Saturday, March 17, 2007

Alberta History Being Made..

Thought you might want to capture some history being made in Alberta on your GPK blog. The pictures show a coker unit being transported to Fort McMurray - there is detail in the black text below. This is a common site up here in McMurray now that so many oil companies are starting to develop their oil sands leases.

FYI a coker unit is used in the first stages of processing bitumen (a black gummy gook that results after the sand has been removed from the oil sands i.e., extraction process) into synthetic crude. It is one of the most critical and expensive pieces of equipment used in oil sands processing today. Syncrude, the second major oil sands developer who set up shop in the mid-to-late 1970's, has three of these operating on their site as well as an LC Finer unit.
This unit is over 500 feet long, weighs more than 1.2 million lbs., is carried on highly specialized trailers with approximately 700 wheels; it takes 5 days to haul it 600 miles. In order to cross the North Saskatchewan River it must travel east on Highway 14, then north to the Duvernay Bridge, then back west on Highway 28 to Highway 63, through Boyle and Grassland and north to Ft. McMurray.

Tonight it will be resting in Wandering River before getting to its final destination tomorrow. Highway signs, overhead power lines, street lights, etc. all have to be disconnected while this unit is passing through. The company that moves it is called Mammouet Transport. It was fascinating seeing it cross over the bridge with two trucks pulling and one pushing. The engineering must be very intricate handling it going down hills as well as pulling up the hills!! You will notice that there were two more trucks on the other side of the bridge to hook up and pull it over the bridge and up the hill on the other side.

They hook together with ropes. It is very important not to have too much extra weight on the bridge. Today we wanted to see the unit turn off Highway 55/63 onto the Ft. McMurray highway. It is a 90 degree you can see in the pictures it was a piece of cake. The coker pivoted on top of the two trailers, the pilots on each of the trailers had control of the 700 wheels to turn the corner with ease; there are two pullers and two pushers. It took about 5 minutes. It only travels in the daylight. Police reroute the traffic ahead and behind the unit as it travels so slowly and you cannot pass it going either direction. There wouldn't be any room to pass anyway.

Thanks Joan N

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