Cracking heavy oil
It´s called the CAPRI system and it´s been designed to do the job of a refinery at the bottom of Petrobank´s patented THAI (toe-to-heel air injection) wells at the company´s pilot project near Christina Lake in northeastern Alberta. In the THAI system, an air pressure-driven combustion front loosens heavy oil as it slowly works its way forward, and the freed oil flows under gravity through slots in horizontal collector pipes, then is gas-lifted to surface processing systems.There's more here, and allowing for hyperbole and wishful thinking, I still think there's some substance to this claim:
For the CAPRI pilot, the horizontal pipes have been uniquely configured such that after passing through the slots, the hot crude will pass through a bed of catalyst and on through slots in a concentric inner pipe before being lifted.
The cracking to be achieved by CAPRI will be a step further in the upgrading process already occurring with THAI. With temperatures of over 600°C, THAI has achieved coking, raising 8°API oil to 13 or 14 degrees.
"It´s in situ coking," says Chris Bloomer, Petrobank´s vice-president, heavy oil. "If we look at it from a refiner´s perspective, you´re increasing the saturates content, slightly reducing the aromatics, but significantly reducing the asphaltene content and the resin content. You increase the volatile organics fairly substantially. It´s very encouraging."
If the Capri/Thai processes are successful then Canada's oilsands, other oilsands and heavy oil deposits around the world will have higher recovery rates using a more economic process and the oil will be upgrading in the ground to a higher and more valuable quality. This would be the technology that would crush peak oil for several decades and allow an orderly transition to a post oil world. The processes would enable trillions of barrels of oil to be economically accessed.One things is for sure: high prices bring out ingenuity. I'm not giving up on my conjecture that 20 years from now prices for a barrel of crude will be below $100.
Labels: oil prices