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Refining Canada’s oil sands produces petroleum coke, called "the dirtiest residue from the...

Refining Canada’s oil sands produces petroleum coke, called "the dirtiest residue from the dirtiest oil on earth." It's piling up along the Detroit River, NYT reports, thanks to a Marathon Petroleum refinery that began refining Canadian oil sands in November. Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products from oil sands to the U.S., which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone pipeline, are pulling more coking south to U.S. refineries, creating more waste product.
Comments (21)
  • Pet coke is feedstock. NYT? Similarly useful for starting a fire.
    18 May 2013, 08:36 AM Reply Like
  • Check Petroleum Coke Awareness on Facebook to see the local impact of this disgusting mountain'
    19 May 2013, 07:48 PM Reply Like
  • Why go to FB for facts? The internet is littered with facts. Seems to be a 1st post agenda.
    19 May 2013, 07:59 PM Reply Like
  • coke can be used to make steel. Too bad there are no more steel mills in the USA. Perhaps Canada can ship their bitumen to Korea and China, those nations can refine it into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, use the coke for their steel mils, sell the finished product steel to us for our crumbling infrastructure, and lend us the money to pay for it. Would that work for you, New York Times?
    18 May 2013, 08:38 AM Reply Like
  • Another article from the green clowns at the NYT - petroleum coke is actually a useful by product that can be sold to other industries for may purposes.
    18 May 2013, 08:43 AM Reply Like
  • So why isn't it?
    18 May 2013, 10:21 AM Reply Like
  • The article actually addressed that very question.


    Too bad the commenter didn't read the article before commenting on it.
    18 May 2013, 12:50 PM Reply Like
  • Imagine, the NYT coming out against a fossil-fuel operation.


    Solar! Wind Turbines! Unicorns!
    20 May 2013, 08:04 AM Reply Like
  • I thought that Venezuela crude was the dirtiest crude on the planet and US refineries that refine it would switch to Canadian once Keystone is built?
    18 May 2013, 10:15 AM Reply Like
  • This is how the public will end up indirectly subsidizing the production of our lowest grade crude products. Through mulch-generational 100 billion dollar cleanup projects.
    18 May 2013, 10:24 AM Reply Like
  • Think of the jobs it will create.
    18 May 2013, 10:30 AM Reply Like
  • So... did anyone read the article before commenting?


    "Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.


    While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.


    “It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce.”
    18 May 2013, 11:15 AM Reply Like
  • Show me the "Facts". Is the article based on truth or distortion?
    18 May 2013, 12:05 PM Reply Like
  • One alternative is to read the article and find out for yourself. The easier one is to just fling out a knee-jerk rant.


    I don't know enough about the topic to know how much their facts are skewed, incorrect or leave out important facts that don't support the angle that the article wants to push.


    I'm not commenting on whether or not the article is biased -- it certainly does have a point of view that it is pushing. I'm laughing at all the comments that were clearly made without reading the article, because the article did anticipate some of these knee jerk rants and presented some facts to counter them.


    So I'm just finding the whole thing entertaining.
    18 May 2013, 12:44 PM Reply Like
  • Having visited a few refineries plus a couple of oil sands plants and never having seen such huge piles of coke at any of them I wonder about the photo shown along with the article. Therefor "what are the facts"? How much coke is actually produced from each barrel of crude? How big really is that pile in the photo and is it all coke and all from oil sands crude? Is the situation described in the article a result of current or outdated technologies and practices.
    It is easy to show photos and create a story around any one scenario a writer may wish to present but that does not make it an accurate view of the industry or of current day practice. Mining and refining technologies and practices are continually being researched and upgraded. The following is borrowed from Ivanhoe Energies site;


    "HTL (heavy to light oil) is a proprietary technology that converts bitumen to a higher-value, lighter product that can be transported by pipeline. Not only does it create a more valuable product and avoid the need for diluent, it also converts byproducts to energy in the field that can be used instead of natural gas for steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).


    “It’s a one step process – we deal with all the principal heavy oil challenges in one simple step,” says Ed Veith, Ivanhoe Energy’s Executive Vice President, Upstream.
    Upgrading heavy oil improves the hydrogen to carbon ratio of the product; that is, carbon is removed and/or hydrogen is added to the oil. There are different processes to achieve this, either removing carbon (carbon rejection) or adding hydrogen (hydro-cracking or hydro-treating). Traditional upgraders, such as cokers, use carbon rejection plus hydrogen addition.


    HTL uses thermal cracking to break apart the long hydrocarbon chains, remove carbon and reassemble the chains with improved hydrogen-carbon ratios. Unlike traditional carbon rejection technologies, it’s able to do this very quickly, at scales as small as 10,000 barrels per day, and without the need for hydrogen, catalysts or significant pressure.


    Furthermore, the process doesn’t create piles of environmentally challenging coke that is typically transported to distant markets.''
    (end of quote)


    A realistic view is only presented if all sides of an issue are discussed. To write an article on an ever evolving and improving industry without bringing into the article those facts is doing a disservice to the reader.
    18 May 2013, 02:06 PM Reply Like
  • petroleum coke is used to make fertilizer.
    18 May 2013, 01:25 PM Reply Like
  • Exactly, along with a host of other products. Wouldn't mind if CVR Partners($UAN) bought some of this extra pet coke on the cheap.
    18 May 2013, 01:49 PM Reply Like
  • The petcoke is accumulated in Great Lakes vessel size lots for shipment to customers in the US and Canada. The primary market for this quality petroleum coke is as a substitute for coal in cement kilns. There are many cement kilns located along the St. Lawence River in Ontario and Quebec. It can also be burned in power plants as a substitute for coal, especially in electric generating units equipped with circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers (e.g. Nova Scotia Power's Point Aconi Generating Station). I believe the first shipment went to Nova Scotia power. A portion of the petcoke is also trucked directly from the refinery to Detroit Edison's Monroe Generating Station, where it is burned in a blend with coal in either of the two units currently equipped with SO2 scrubbers (SO2 scrubbers are being retrofitted to the remaining two units).
    18 May 2013, 01:36 PM Reply Like
  • I'm not sure everyone is working from the same page on this matter.


    I read a NYT article entitled "A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit" which was published yesterday, May 17. While the article mentions that MPC produced the pet coke by-product and that it is stored near its Detroit refinery, the focus of the article is on Koch Carbon which bought the coke and is storing it along the Detroit River through a company called Detroit Bulk Storage. The article raises several controversies. One, the owner of Koch is a conservative who does not believe in global warming and ships the coke offshore to other countries that will burn it without regard of environmental and health risks. Two, local residents are concerned that the storage of the coke along the river presents a threat to the river (if it leaches into the water) and the residents (from the coke dust that blows on windy days). They believe it contributes to cancer. And three, the storage company apparently doesn't have the required permit to have open storage. From other Detroit articles I read, it sounds like they will get the permit but will have to go through a public hearing to outline what measures they will take to prevent environmental and health risks.


    Unless I'm reading the wrong article, MPC is in this article and others because they produce the coke and there is some resentment that coke produced in Canada is being stored in the US along a river. The responsibility for the coke and its storage rests with two other companies. I guess that if this whole matter blows up, MPC will get some bad press and may need to move storage elsewhere or take other actions.


    However, from reading other articles there seems to be another risk at the MPC Detroit refinery. MPC recently had a chemical fire there. An article noted that the MPC Fire Department is smaller and less experienced than before and the Detroit Fire Department has been seriously reduced for budget reasons. Local authorities are concerned that this may be a disaster waiting to happen. That would be a MPC liability. I'm hoping MPC will address.
    18 May 2013, 05:16 PM Reply Like
  • How long did it take to amass this pile of coke? Seems the article could have told the reader. That wasn't the intent of the article though. It was a scare piece aimed at defaming the Koch brothers.
    18 May 2013, 07:09 PM Reply Like
  • I assume the pet coke pile was accumulated since the Marathon refinery installed their two cokers in 4Q2012.


    "By 4Q12, Marathon expects to finish construction on a 28 mb/d coker at the company’s Detroit refinery" - by Rob Smith PFC Energy
    February 09, 2012


    "MEMBERS OF DETROIT Local 169 installed a pair of mammoth “coker drums” as part of the Marathon Petroleum Co.’s $2.2 billion Heavy Oil Upgrade Project (HUOP) at the firm’s 100,000-barrels-per-day Detroit refinery."
    25 May 2013, 05:29 AM Reply Like
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