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Bruce Yardley appointed Chief Geologist

Bruce Yardley (Leeds University) has been appointed Chief Geologist by The Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

Chartership news

Chartership Officer Bill Gaskarth reports on a projected new logo for use by CGeols, advice on applications and company training schemes

Climate Change Statement Addendum

The Society has published an addendum to 'Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record' (November 2010) taking account of new research

Cracking up in Lincolnshire

Oliver Pritchard, Stephen Hallett, and Timothy Farewell consider the role of soil science in maintaining the British 'evolved road'

Critical metals

Kathryn Goodenough* on a Society-sponsored hunt for the rare metals that underpin new technologies

Déja vu all over again

As Nina Morgan Discovers, the debate over HS2 is nothing new...

Done proud

Ted Nield hails the new refurbished Council Room as evidence that the Society is growing up

Earth Science Week 2014

Fellows - renew, vote for Council, and volunteer for Earth Science Week 2014!  Also - who is honoured in the Society's Awards and Medals 2014.

Fookes celebrated

Peter Fookes (Imperial College, London) celebrated at Society event in honour of Engineering Group Working Parties and their reports

Geology - poor relation?

When are University Earth Science departments going to shed their outmoded obsession with maths, physics and chemistry?

Nancy Tupholme

Nancy Tupholme, Librarian of the Society and the Royal Society, has died, reports Wendy Cawthorne.

Power, splendour and high camp

Ted Nield reviews the refurbishment of the Council Room, Burlington House

The Sir Archibald Geikie Archive at Haslemere Educational Museum

You can help the Haslemere Educational Museum to identify subjects in Sir Archibald Geikie's amazing field notebook sketches, writes John Betterton.

Top bananas

Who are the top 100 UK practising scientists?  The Science Council knows...

Book Review: Heavy Crude Oils

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Heavy Crude Oils: From Geology to Upgrading – An overview

Heavy Crude Oils is a comprehensive review of all aspects of heavy crudes. Part 1 deals with definitions, composition and geological origins. A brief review of the key terms, such as ‘heavy’, ‘extra-heavy’, ‘bitumen’, ‘tar sand’ and ‘oil sand’ (the book uses “heavy crudes” for all of them), is followed by a section on the statistical importance of the world’s heavy crude resource.

Part 2, the biggest section, details the reservoir habitat and the production methods commonly used to exploit heavy crudes. Oil sand mining is used for completely immobile crudes, where the reservoir is excavated wholesale and the separated sand returned to the ground after processing. Crudes which are to some degree mobile can be produced either “cold” or by heat-treating them.

Part 3 examines the transport of heavy crudes, and the various methods of reducing viscosity. These include heat treatment (I was surprised to learn that it is possible for heat treatment to worsen the rheological properties of crudes), dilution with solvent, aqueous emulsions, and techniques still in the experimental phase, such as core annular flow. Part 4 looks at upgrading of heavy crudes, focusing on the lowering sulphur and metal contents. The processes of de-asphalting, visbreaking, coking and hydrotreating are described, and their relative merits and de-merits examined. Much of this section was new to me, but it is very clearly written and all the terms and various acronyms are fully explained.

Part 5 tackles the environmental issues that arise out of the very nature of heavy crude production, such as the problems of sand treatment and disposal in bitumen mining; the large amounts of water necessary to generate steam for steam soaking; and the amounts of CO2 produced by steam generation and by some of the upgrading processes. Part 6 looks at the ongoing technical challenges associated with major heavy oil projects. This section also contains useful summary figures for the costs involved, and a cost comparison with conventional crude production.

The book is very clearly written (written in French, it has been Englished by a native speaker) and would usefully serve any company that is interested in investing in heavy crude exploration and production. Given the amount of untapped heavy crude out there, more and more companies will no doubt be investigating that possibility in the not too distant future. This book is a very good place to start.

Reviewed by: Pete Webb, Petrus Consulting, High Peak, Derbyshire

HEAVY CRUDE OILS: FROM GEOLOGY TO UPGRADING – AN OVERVIEW Alain-Yves Huc (ed.) Published by: Editions Technip Publication date: 2010 ISBN: 978-2-7108-0890-9. 439pp. List price: $US115.00; €100.00