2018-08-09 03:13:23 UTC
Here's what Venezuela is struggling with:
Venezuela's deteriorating oil quality riles major refiners
CARACAS/HOUSTON (Reuters) - Venezuela’s state-run oil firm, PDVSA, is increasingly delivering poor quality crude oil to major refiners in the United States, India and China, causing repeated complaints, canceled orders and demands for discounts, according to internal PDVSA documents and interviews with a dozen oil executives, workers, traders and inspectors.
The disputes involve cargoes soiled with high levels of water, salt or metals that can cause problems for refineries, according to the sources and internal PDVSA trade documents seen by Reuters.
The quality issues stem from shortages of chemicals and equipment to properly treat and store the oil, resulting in shutdowns and slowdowns at PDVSA production facilities, along with hurried transporting to avoid late deliveries, the sources said.
And here's what Alberta's 'oil' looks like:
Alberta's oil sands contain on average about 10% bitumen, 5% water and 85% solids. Most of the solids are coarse silica sand. Oil sands also contain fine solids and clays, typically in the range of 10-30% by weight.
Bitumen is a heavy complex hydrocarbon, contained within the oil sands deposit. Bitumen is almost solid at room temperature and has a tar-like consistency. As will all heavy oils in general, Alberta bitumen has a relatively higher concentration of nitrogen, sulphur and heavy metals.
And here's what has to be added to the goop to force it through the pipelines:
Bitumen produced from the oil sands is too heavy to be sent directly to a conventional refinery due to its high asphaltene and sulphur content. Depending on the extraction process used, bitumen can sometimes contains as much as 2% water and solids, which does not meet pipeline specifications for long distance transport. This product is therefore upgraded into a light synthetic crude, which is then sold on the open market.
Upgrading is a process by which bitumen is transformed into an lighter and sweeter crude by fractionation and chemical treatment. This improves the quality of the oil, reducing its viscosity and sulphur content. The SCO product is then sent to a downstream refinery for conversion into final product. About 40% of Alberta's bitumen is currently upgraded before being sold to market.