Oil Patch Prospects to Rise
By Patrick Waurzyniak
While the oil patch experiences an ebb in its boom-and-bust cycle, projections for increased oil sands and conventional oil production point to improving conditions for the Canadian market.
The outlook for oil & gas will improve considerably in the coming years and strengthen Canada’s position as a preferred supplier, according to a report released last week from Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), which forecasts the oil industry’s prospects rising due to increased oil sands and conventional oil production in western Canada.
In its 2013 Crude Oil Forecast, Markets & Transportation report, released on June 5, CAPP forecasts that Canadian crude oil production will more than double to 6.7 million barrels per day by 2030, from 3.2 million barrels per day in 2012. This includes oil sands production of 5.2 million barrels per day by 2030, up from 1.8 million barrels per day in 2012.
At SME’s Western Manufacturing Technology Show (WMTS) held last week in Edmonton, Alberta, many attendees expressed optimism that the industry will soon improve. “The market’s slow right now, but it will pick up,” noted Daniel LaMarche, owner of LaMarche Machinery Inc. (LMI; Edmonton, AB, Canada). “For our industry, it’s feast or famine.”
A distributor of Hyundai Wia and Yama Seiki machine tools throughout western Canada and in Washington and Oregon, LaMarche said that manufacturers of oil industry pipe and other gear used in production are looking for machines and tooling that offer rigidity in machining materials from common steels to exotic alloys including Inconel, 4340 modified and other metals. At WMTS, LaMarche displayed a new Hyundai Wia L800A CNC heavy-due turning center with a 12.5” spindle bore for machining pipes up to 30’ long.
The WMTS show featured 140 exhibitors and more than 2000 attendees with machine tool distributors displaying machining centers, lathes, plasma and waterjet metalcutting machines, to fabrication, welding, workholding, software, automation systems and related equipment. Keynote speaker Andrew Comrie-Picard urged attendees to think outside the box in his talk, “Intuitive Engineering: What we can learn from shade-tree mechanics.” Comrie-Picard, a top rally driver and TV host, said the manufacturing industry has to use intuition, push past the fear of failure, and embrace challenges in order to succeed.
Oil producers and their suppliers need to find cost-effective solutions that offer the durability and reliability demanded by harsh oilfield environments, said John Wolodko, Ph.D., P.Eng., portfolio manager, Advanced Materials, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF; Edmonton), in his discussion of materials and manufacturing R&D challenges for the Alberta energy sector.
Wolodko, who also heads up AITF’s Materials and Reliability in Oil Sands (MARIOS) program, a consortium of more than 40 oil producers and supplier companies, said an area of critical importance is improving the durability of oil sands slurry pipelines. “Due to the abrasive nature of oil sands, pipelines are replaced every three to 24 months,” said Wolodko of the 24” to 36” diameter pipes used in slurry transport. “This environment is uniquely aggressive—you’re basically pumping liquid sandpaper down a pipeline.”
The AITF’s slurry pipeline project researches materials used in pipeline transport, and it offers member companies performance and field-testing data that includes models for predicting pipeline material wear. For more information, see the Web site www.albertatechfutures.ca.
Contact Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak at firstname.lastname@example.org.