BA Energy Builds Oils Sands Upgrader with Matrikon Suite

Cleaning oil sands isn't easy or cheap. So finding a new upgrading process that's half as expensive is really good news. The bad news is that you now have to design a build a company and a plant to do it.


This has been BA Energy's challenge as it works to build its first Heartland Upgrader oil sands upgrading facility in FortSaskatchewan, Alberta. BA Energy is owned by Value Creation Inc. (VCI), which developed its new upgrading process that has capital and energy costs that are reportedly half as much as traditional oil sands upgrading expenses. That's fortunate because VCI also holds 365 square miles of oil sands leases, estimated to hold up to 8 billion barrels of recoverable bitumen.


To commercialize VCI's process, BA Energy is now building its new plant outside of Edmonton. The Heartland Upgrader Project (HUP) is scheduled to start operating in the last half of 2008, and will be the first of six upgraders BA Ebergy has planned for the Edmonton area. This first upgrader is presently permitted to produce 260,000 barrels per day through 2012.


"We have two basic tasks. To build a bitumen heavy-oil upgrader and build a new company," says Kevin Melnyk, general manager at BA Energy's Heartland Upgrader, on May 8 at Matrikon Summit 2007.


To start tackling these goals, BA Energy first organized an Operations Resource Planning Committee to define the new firm's business processes and also those that would be used at the upgrader plant. Defining these processes, in turn, helped BA Energy begin to design its new systems and select the best tools to support them. Melnyk says the committee and BA's other organizers tied all the applicable stakeholders together, so the new firm could have proactive, real-time decision making, and convert its internal and external interactions, so its applications could be scalable and better fits its overall business pusposes.


"This isn't ERP," says Melnyk. "In fact, I have a nightmare in which I wake up, and find that SAP has developed a DCS."


As a result, BA Energy enlisted Matrikon to help with a variety of functions and projects on which the Heartland Upgrader is going to be founded. These functions include alarm management and labs information management, and the projects include integrating with the firm's other systems, including Exaquantum DCS, Maximo, and SAP. Matrikon provides functional elements that integrate the facility's information architecture to provide a scalable, asset-based application suite that supports the needs and challenges of the business.


"Matrikon Suite does a lot more than yield accounting," adds Melnyk. "The main thing is you want to have a safe plant. We're using Matrikon Suite to get the many documents we need to do it. These days, you can't run a plant safety or legally without a system like this in place."


Melnyk adds that Matrikon Suite's primary capabilities include:


·        EPCM documentation for transfer and tracking

·        Capital to operating system transition

·        Operator logs, orders, manual capture, etc.

·        Leak detection and repair

·        Environmental accounting

·        Process asset integrity excellence (PAIE)

·        Plus LIMS (light), knowledge management, and integration with SAP.


Three or four months into its HUP project, Melnyk adds that BA Energy was identifying the risk and probability of failure of each component and system it was considering, so it could also develop maintenance, inventory purchasing, and reliability inspection plans.


"We now have the ability to capture the information we need, and see what's most important," adds Melnyk. "Matrikon Suite allows integration by configuration rather than customization. It's scalable, and so we think it's going to be the one-stop shop for most users."