Solvents to the rescue_ how chemistry can save the oilsands industry _ financial post

Asked what percentage of Imperial’s Calgary research centre is currently focused on solvents, the company’s vice-president of upstream engineering Rick Gallant said, “All of it.”

Imperial is already using solvents to boost production at older wells on its steam-based Cold Lake oilsands project, which produces 160,000 barrels of oil per day, Gallant says. Gas used in ww1 The company has also filed applications with the Alberta Energy Regulator for two other projects that would use a process Imperial calls “solvent assisted, steam-assisted gravity drainage.”

The process injects a combination of steam and solvent into an oilsands deposit through one well, then pulls the oil to the surface through a neighbouring well. A shell gas station near me It’s similar to a better known and widely used process, called Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage or SAGD, but the addition of solvents reduces the need for water.

Competing operators have tested variations of the technology with a variety of similar-sounding names for the same purpose – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity and improve efficiency – and are working on full-scale commercial facilities.

Cenovus began work on the Narrows Lake oilsands project in 2012, which at the time was set to be the first commercial-scale “solvent-aided” project in the oilsands. Gas vs electric stove top But the company suspended construction on Narrows Lake in 2014, when the project was about 20 per cent complete, to save cash during the dramatic collapse in oil prices.

Chhina said Cenovus plans to restart construction when the oil market improves, possibly in the next 12 to 18 months, and after it wraps up two other projects that were also suspended in 2014 but are closer to completion than Narrows Lake.

Barry Munro, management consultancy Ernst & Young’s national oil and gas leader for Canada, calls solvent-based oilsands extraction a “step change” for the oilsands and, possibly, the wider Canadian energy sector. Electricity quiz grade 9 He said that many technological innovations in the oilsands have been applied in conventional heavy oil formations, boosting their output and productivity.

“Guys have gone out and done look-alike developments in conventional heavy oil,” Munro said, adding that the same could happen with solvents across Western Canada, possibly leading to a productivity boost across the industry and a reduction in emissions.

Imperial Oil expects it can cut operating costs by deploying its solvent-assisted process in the oilsands, boost output and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions intensity per barrel by 25 per cent, while also reducing the company’s water use per barrel of oil produced at the same rate, according to Gallant.

He said that society’s expectations for environmental responsibility have changed in recent years, requiring companies in the energy sector to shrink their environmental footprint and oilsands companies are increasingly turning to new technologies, like solvents, to do so. Electricity usage calculator south africa “Those expectations continue to increase and we need to continue to respond,” Gallant said.

Chhina thinks the process can reduce Cenvous’ steam-to-oil ratio, an important measure of an oilsands plant’s efficiency and its environmental performance, by 30 per cent to 40 per cent.

Eventually, as solvent-based techniques improve, oilsands companies hope to entirely eliminate the use of water, which is used to make steam that is injected into oilsands wells, Chhina said.

Joseph Kuhach, chief executive at Calgary-based Nsolv, says his company has already patented a waterless technique using solvents to extract oil from the oilsands. Gas chamber The company is running a field test, which produced its 100,000th barrel of oil in July, on a Suncor oilsands lease and the process produces oil with a quarter of the emissions as a typical SAGD facility.

Still, no major company has partnered with Nsolv or licensed its technology on a commercial scale facility in the oilsands to date. Up electricity bill payment online Kuhach hopes that increasing societal pressure and new emissions regulations in Alberta – oilsands operators now face a cumulative 100-megatonne emissions cap – could change that in the near future.

EY’s Munro believes there is another economic advantage of solvent-based oilsands extraction techniques, which could deliver the “step change” the industry is looking for. Electricity and magnetism purcell pdf The use of solvents has been shown in laboratory and field testing to produce oil that is less viscous than oilsands extracted without solvents, he said.

The significance of this isn’t lost on oilsands producers that have been pushing for new pipelines for years. Electricity manipulation Oilsands companies that don’t upgrade their crude currently blend their product with a chemical blend called diluent – which, incidentally, can be used as a solvent – in order to flow it through a pipeline.

As a result of the need to blend bitumen with diluent – creating a product called dilbit – Canadian export pipelines are clogged with more diluent and carry less crude than they might otherwise be able to deliver, limiting pipeline takeaway capacity.

Kuhach said that solvents can solve this problem by producing a pipeline-ready oil. Jokes gas prices “When we extract it, we’re leaving a lot of that nasty stuff, the heavy asphaltines, in the ground,” he said.

Still, oilsands companies have avoided sanctioning new projects and new technologies while oil and gas prices are depressed, meaning a full-scale facility using solvents is still years away from operation.

Oilsands producers understand the environmental and economic stakes are high and are pouring money into research in the hope that solvents work as well on a commercial scale as they do in a laboratory setting. Gas laws definition chemistry As Cenvous’ Chhina said, “One success story out of 100 trials can change this province.”