Petrobank presented at the CAPP 19th Annual Oil and Gas Investment Symposium June 19 and June 20, 2007 with an update on the Whitsands THAI™ pilot and I recommend listening/viewing that presentation at . They present an in-depth report on the progress in commercializing THAI™. I've been monitoring the work at Whitesands for 2+ years and the pilot facility performance seems to be exceeding all expectations. The produced bitumin is exhibiting a 4 to 5+ degree API improvement over virgin bitumin. Sand production has been a problem and they are currently installing surface sand removal equipment to address this situation. I understand the next three pilot wells will incorporate CAPRI™ with the goal of producing a pipeline shipable product with no diluent. Petrobank recently awarded a grant to the University of Bath for additional downhole process optimization research on CAPRI™, the catalytic cracking enhancement to THAI™. The UofBath abstract can be viewed at . I understand Petrobank plans to submit an application to the EUB for the first 10,000BPD commercial production module before the end of this year with construction to be completed 12 months after permit approval. The permit approval should proceed since the facility uses essentially no NG after pre-ignition steaming, produces a quality industrial water, requires a minimum surface footprint and releases half the amount of CO2 compared to SAGD. I believe we will be hearing a lot more about THAI/CAPRI™ in the months and years ahead.
CAPP presentation url at
and UofBath abstract at
Seems a little like alchemy to me. I thought you had to add hydrogen to get the tar to the syncrude level-that the whole problem with bitumen is a lot more carbon than crude oils, so the gunk won't flow, like a chunk of unmelted roofing tar. Bob Ebersole
You are right that you need to change the chemistry of the butumen to make it flow. The option to adding hydrogen to the bitumen is to remove carbon from the bitumen. This is what happens in the Cokers at Syncrude and Suncor and what is happening in the Reservoir in the THAI process.
Hydrogen will be added to further refine the bitumen at a Refinery down the pipeline.
In the three pilot THAI™ wells currently in operation, the temperature and pressure are so high as to cause extensive thermal cracking...you have, in effect, a down hole coker, in the mobile oil zone, which not only heats the oil, reducing the viscosity to water, but thermally cracks the asphaltenes which are not oxidized in the combustion zone. So, effectively, you are oxidizing part of the asphaltenes to provide the heat for the process and thermally cracking the remaining asphaltenes. Analysis of the exhaust gases confirms the presence of free hydrogen, a byproduct of the thermal cracking. By adding catalyst down hole, you can accomplish catalytic cracking. This ppt presentation at the Alberta Research Council on 10/12/05 presents the science and some of the original laboratory work.
The field full scale pilot tests are complete with three producing THAI™ wells on line (first well in operation for over a year). Work has begun on the three THAI/CAPRI™ wells. In essence, this process enables production of a syncrude with the upgrading taking place in the reservoir with no use of NG and water and half the greenhouse gas emissions. Capex is half of SAGD currently being permitted/constructed in the province and opex is also greatly reduced, not to mention bypassing the need for an upgrader. This technology is now onstream and in continuous operation at Christina Lake. This is a very exciting development for Alberta Province and Canada from both an energy independence and Kyoto compliance perspective.
Thanks Dave. Technology rocks!
Here's a recent article on the guys who are bringing this technology into production...
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