Workshop Explores Solutions to Transporting Uinta Basin Waxy Crude

The sixth annual Waxy Crude Workshop, presented by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative’s Eastern Utah Outreach team, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining and Integrated Energy Companies will be April 9th at the Uinta Basin Applied Technology College from 8:30 a.m. until noon. 

Held in conjunction with the DOGM quarterly meetings in Vernal, the workshop explores solutions to the challenges associated with transporting Utah’s waxy oils.

Transporting waxy crude can be difficult due to its high paraffin (or wax) content. The wax particles in the oil solidify as the oil cools, which happens around 102 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is commonly referred to as the “pour point”. Keeping the crude hot and in a liquid form requires the use of heaters, which in turn produce emissions.  The oil is then put into insulated tanker trucks, where it can only be driven a short distance before it cools, limiting the accessible market to Salt Lake City. Since there is no rail access to the Uinta Basin, the waxy crude must be trucked to rail loading facilities outside the region before it can be loaded on to the rail cars. Pipeline options are also limited due to the problems associated with its pour point.

While high paraffin content oils are not unique to the basin area, they are highly unusual. The focused discussion on Uinta Basin waxy oils offers an opportunity to delve into a topic of importance to Utah’s oil and gas industry.

“There has been enough interest in waxy crude oil and the Basin over the past couple of years, and people are now looking at possible solutions,” said Ryan Streams, Associate Director of USTAR Eastern Outreach. “We have had conversations with several operators who have made investments into infrastructure to move waxy oils based on a clear need they discovered while attending the workshops. It is a complicated problem without an easy solution, but we have been building critical mass toward a solution.”

The workshop agenda features discussions by individuals representing both academia and industry. The focus will be the current state of the waxy crude oil industry, the challenges and the possibilities of what lie ahead. 100-150 people are expected to attend, including members of industry as well as representatives from local, state and federal government. Streams said the attendees know the problem of waxy oil and in many cases, deal with it on a daily basis.

“For this year’s workshop, we have representatives from the University of Utah and Utah State University who have spent the past year researching waxy crude flow assurance,” said Streams.  “We will also be featuring speakers from industry with an emphasis on Utah oil marketing.”

The workshop is free to attend, and breakfast will be provided. For more information about the waxy crude workshop, contact Alan Walker at [email protected].