December 15, 2016 – In conjunction with Emerson, Spartan Controls announced a five-year research and development commitment to the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Both companies have joined industry partners Syncrude and Cenovus as well as Canada’s National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in funding research in the field of Oil Sands process control.
“At Spartan we understand the Oil Sands industry faces many challenges as it continues to work to lower their cost of producing resources in the face of global competition,” said Warren Mitchell, Solutions Development Leader at Spartan Controls. “Improved measurement, process control and critical equipment surveillance will play a role in this regard. This collaborative research effort will help the oil sands industry rise to these challenges by finding innovative solutions to some of their most difficult measurement control and optimization problems today.”
This NSERC Industry Research Chair is aimed at developing solutions that will lead to estimation, control and optimization technologies and focuses on the systems that control the oil sands processes, as they allow for steady and safe process operations, consistent product quality, less waste and better control of emissions.
“Our integrated program will enable collaboration with industry to convert research outcomes into implemented solutions, and train highly qualified personnel with excellent job prospects.” stated Biao Huang, Professor at the University of Alberta. “As a result, Canada will be well-positioned to meet its future energy needs.”
As one example, the group will be investigating the use of advanced data analytics in order to improve the longevity of electric submersible pumps (ESP) in Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) applications. Today, the average lifespan of an ESP in SAGD service is on the order of several hundred days due to the severe downhole conditions they are exposed to. The service rig to pull these pumps once failed, replacement parts or pumps along with lost production are costly to the industry impacting the overall efficiency of these operations.
Can an intelligent monitoring application automatically detect and help diagnose the early onset of failure of these assets using data routinely collected and stored on site? Can better control strategies be developed in order protect these pumps and lengthen their time between failures? If so the research and development done under this program will assist the industry in solving a challenging problem that will ultimately help lower their cost of operation.