Oil sands are a combination of sand, water, clay and bitumen – heavy oil. Due to the consistency of the oil it has to be diluted or heated for it to be extracted from below the surface. Oil sands are found in the USA and Canada. Within Alberta, the largest deposit is found in Athabasca. It is the most developed, covering the span of 142,000 km2.

As of January 2014, 100 oil sand projects took place in Alberta. About 97 per cent of Canada’s oil reserves are found in the oil sands. Producing a substantial amount of bitumen, Canada exports its production. To the U.S. alone Canada exported 1.2 million barrels of unprocessed bitumen per day – approximately 60 per cent of daily oil sand production.

Oil sands large deposits allow Alberta to prosper. Mining or drilling can retrieve the bitumen. Helios Equipment provides Canadian customers with the equipment to be able to pump the oil to the surface. Drilling disturbs a small amount of land making it an environmentally friendly way of removing the oil. By drilling two pipes into the ground, which run horizontally, and perpendicular to each other, steam can be forced through to soften the bitumen and carry it to the surface. With FC-style gate valves companies can manage liquid flow from the pumping process. 

Helios’ FC-style gate valves are optimized to achieve perfect seal surfaces and floating gates. Derived from Cameron FC-style gate valves, they are re-engineered for enhanced service performance. They produce at maximum speed and reduce pressure drop, increasing productivity of oil sands. Helios Equipment’s also offers inlay welding with Inconel 625, to create and FC-style gate valve that resists oxidation and corrosion. 

Bitumen can also be retrieved by mining, which requires tailing ponds to enable process water to be separated. With the usage of tailing ponds in Alberta they have innovated a way to make the tailing pond water reusable. Using electric current in the water it allows the clay to become more compact, easily separating from the water. Alberta recycles approximately 95 per cent of water used, reducing the amount of fresh water for oil sand mining.