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Opportunities and Challenges for Partial Upgrading of Bitumen
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When: June 27-2018
11:30-1:00 pm
Where: Calgary Petroleum Club
319 5th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta  T2P 0L5
Contact: Jill Sugars
403-269-1755 ext 300

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Opportunities and Challenges for Partial Upgrading of Bitumen

Presented by: 

Murray Gray, Senior Technical Advisor, Bitumen Partial Upgrading, Alberta Innovates

Given the financial, social, and environmental expectations of oilsands producers, new technologies for partial upgrading of bitumen are attractive for enhancing the value of oilsands resources. This presentation opens the discussion on the constraints facing the successful development of partial upgrading technology. The physics and chemistry of bitumen at the molecular level determine the potential process pathways and yields of products per barrel of feedstock. Financial constraints on cost of facilities and their operations favor simple processes with a minimum number of process steps, and integration of upgrading with upstream production. Socio-environmental constraints are shifting towards an emphasis on using existing transportation infrastructure and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of full utilization of the energy resource. The technology development efforts of Alberta Innovates are supporting the recently announced Alberta Partial Upgrading Program, which will lead to the demonstration and commercial operation of plants for partial upgrading of bitumen. 


 Dr. Murray Gray has over 30 years of research experience in upgrading of heavy oil and oil sands bitumen. During his career at University of Alberta, he served in a number of roles, including Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, Director of the Institute for Oil Sands Innovation, Vice-Provost (Academic), and Associate Vice-President (Research). He served as Vice President Research at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar and Senior Vice President Academic and Provost of the Petroleum University in Abu Dhabi, before joining Alberta Innovates in 2017. His success in collaborative research with industry on the development of Canada’s oilsands has been recognized by numerous awards and prizes, including the Centennial Award from the professional engineering association in Alberta (2011), and the Industrial Practice Award of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (2003). In 2005 he was elected a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. In 2006 he was awarded a Canada Research Chair and an Industrial Research Chair in Oil Sands Upgrading. Gray obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1984. He also holds a M. Eng. degree with a specialization in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Calgary (1980) and a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto (1978).



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