“The booming oil sands business in Canada is driving demand for stainless steel in all forms and not just for drilling and production applications, but even for the bridges designed to handle the heavy traffic servicing the oil sands,” reports
Poul-Erik Arnvig, Vice President Global Market Development for Outokumpu’s Quarto Plate.
“Extracting the oil sands uses a lot of hot water to release the oil compounds from the mix of sands, soil, etc. This mixture is pumped out of the ground, filtered, and the sediment removed to get clean oil. So stainless steel can been specified for pipes, boilers, and pressure vessels used in the extraction process. Where chlorides and other impurities exist, duplex grades like 2507 and 2205 are good solutions,” Arnvig highlights.
Excellent corrosion resistance
Outokumpu’s super duplex, 2507, is recognized for its excellent corrosion resistance, high mechanical strength, and increased wear resistance while 2205 offers high overall corrosion resistance, particularly in chloride bearing environments.
Further upstream, new refineries and chemical processing facilities are being built in California to serve the oil sands boom. Designers for these facilities are specifying stainless steel for several applications including piping, storage tanks, and heat exchangers. “All of this increase in production affects infrastructure,” points out Arnvig. “There becomes a real need for better roads & bridges, more processing equipment, and even more employees.”
One key Canadian infrastructure improvement is the Athabasca II Bridge project, completed in 2011, in the heart of the North American oil sands region. Part of a 10-lane bridge system spanning the Athabasca River, the bridge was designed to withstand the “super-loads” on their way to the Fort McMurray oil sands. The bridge features stainless rebar produced by Outokumpu. “By specifying stainless steel for the Athabasca II, the Alberta Ministry of Transportation got a longer lasting bridge, able to withstand not just heavy traffic weights but also the chloride salt material used to reduce winter snow and ice on the bridge,” Arnvig adds. Average temperatures in January in Fort McMurray can hover around -18° C (0° F).
“Initially 955 stainless was specified for the Athabasca II project, but Outokumpu presented pricing for duplex stainless 2304 and the lean duplex LDX 2101®, as well,” recalls Tom Holsing, Product Manager Rebar & Wire Rod for Outokumpu in the Americas. “In the end, LDX 2101 rebar was used because it was more economical.” According to the Alberta Ministry of Transportation web site, the bridge is Alberta’s largest bridge deck project (15,500 square meters or 5 square miles) and in 2012, 503 super-loads (with gross vehicle weight of 180 metric tons or greater) traveled across the bridge.