Coal slurry systems— a viable transport alternative

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 75, No. 848, 1982

LYNN C. FISTER, Manager, Slurry Systems, Bechtel Petroleum Inc., Houston, Texas

Coal is rapidly becoming a major alternative to oil. According to the World Coal Study Final Report, total world coal trade could approach one billion tons annually by the year 2000. To facilitate the increased production and export market potential of the coal producing countries, advancements must be made to improve the transportation systems. Coal slurry pipeline systems could play a significant role in achieving these market forecasts. There are three major components to a coal slurry system— the preparation plant, the pipeline and the dewatering plant. The experience and expertise gained from the Consolidation Coal Company system in Ohio, the Black Mesa system in Arizona and ETSI's Coal Evaluation Plant demonstrate that slurry pipeline technology is proven and available to meet the coal transport challenge. The costs of transporting coal by slurry pipeline can offer significant savings, as about 70 per cent of its costs are fixed. The reverse is true for railroads, where 75 to 80 per cent of the costs vary with inflation. All forms of transport—rail, barge and pipeline—will be required to move the massive volumes of coal. Coal slurry systems can provide a viable transport alternative.
Keywords: Slurry systems, Coal slurries, Transportation, Pipelines, ETSI system, Coal preparation, Pump stations, Dewatering plants, Black Mesa pipeline.