First of all, an overview of the future importance of ultra-heavy oil in the energy market as well as the present status is described: Heavy oil is expected as an alternative fuel of conventional crude oil, but on the other side, it is recognized to be too heavy to satisfy the strongly increasing demand of light oils. These facts clearly require some new movement towards the conversion technology into light oils. The hydrothermal conversion of heavy oils into light oils in supercritical water with or without alkali may be one of the candidates. In the presentation, its merit, the present status of technology development, and a high pitch of expectation will be described, mostly in order to emphasize the promotion of a project in near future as a cooperative national project for both sides of development and refinery.
Most heavy and extra-heavy oils originate from conventional oils which have been subsequently degraded in shallow and porous reservoirs by one or several of the following processes: biodegradation, water washing, loss of volatiles, and inorganic oxidation. These processes result in a decrease of the light ends of the crude oil, and also of the alkanes and low molecular weight alkylbenzenes, and an increase of the more resistant polyaromatics, resins, and asphaltenes. Furthermore, at certain conditions, sulfur extracted from sulfate by anaerobic bacteria may react with hydrocarbons to increase the sulfur content. The extent of degradation is associated with depth, proximity to aerial contact, and salinity of formation waters. Excellent examples are provided by the two major provinces of heavy and extra-heavy oils, i.e., Eastern Venezuela and Western Canada. These provinces are situated in foreland-type basins. The basin frequently offer a large volume of mature source rocks. Then, the existence of a wide homocline slope, with a tremendous drainage area, and the occurrence of conductors, such as sandstone layers formed in a paleodelta system or major unconformity surface, favor a long-distance migration from the deep part to the end part of the basin. A wide drainage area is an essential condition for gathering a huge amount of oil into a single accumulation. Finally, degradation itself seems to be an important factor for trapping very large quantities of oil. The R/P of recoverable conventional oil is estimated as c.a. 64.5 years from the recoverable reserves and the additional quantities of conventional oil, which were estimated in 2002 by JPDA. Oil-in-place of heavy and extra-heavy oils are 2,044.3 billion barrels and 4,145.4 billion barrels, respectively, estimated by UNDP project in 1999. In addition, heavy oil of 717 billion barrels and extra-heavy oil of 724 billion barrels are considered as potential recovery. These figures correspond to the R/P c.a. 24.5 and c.a. 24.7 years, respectively. Therefore, total R/P of recoverable oil resource, conventional oil plus unconventional oil, exceeds 100 years.
The amount of proven reserves of oil sands in Canada is estimated to be 175 billion barrels, placing the deposit second in the world in size. Even if the production increases to the same peak level as the North Sea, the R/P ratio is still 80 years, showing the richness of the oil sands resource. The current combination of, the advantageous location adjacent to the extensive U.S. market, with established infrastructure for transportation, the decrease of development and production costs as a result of improved technology, and the recent rise in oil prices are attracting many investors to oil sands development. Canada Oil Sands Co., Ltd. (CANOS), through its subsidiary JACOS, started the pursuit of commercial bitumen production in 1978. After decades of technical trials, CANOS has implemented the SAGD method in 1997 and started production in 1999. It is currently producing 8,000 to 9,000 b/d of bitumen. Throughout its operation history, CANOS has faced many technical challenges and significant advances have been made. These challenges include; ·Application of horizontal well drilling technology. ·Proving the efficiency of the SAGD mechanism. ·Improving G&G evaluation accuracy using sequence stratigraphic framework and 3D seismic data. ·Improving reservoir evaluation quality with the help of sector models and 3D simulation models. ·Optimization of operations including improvement of steam-oil ratio. ·Analysis of volatile pricing of diluted bitumen. SAGD is a new innovative technology and requires the integration of various technical fields. With continuing room for improvement, SAGD offers challenging but worthwhile opportunities for geoscientists and petroleum engineers. The attractive investment environment resembles that of the North Sea development in its early days. In the North Sea, Japanese companies were at a disadvantage as late-comers. CANOS, on the other hand is, and plans to stay on the leading edge of Canadian oil sands development.
Oil sand project in Alberta, Canada is booming now because of the reasons such as huge reserves, technology improvement and higher demand of energy resulting in a good market condition. How does Canada itself think about a current situation and what kind of strategy does it have in the future of oil sand business? To have a better understanding for the questions above, the messages from oil sand industry in Alberta are quite helpful. This paper presents the information of a brief introduction on oil sand industry including oil sand reserves, production forecast, future challenge-risks provided by the Alberta Energy & Utilities Board and the Athabasca Regional Issues Working Group Association and also the information provided by Syncrude of its project history and view of the future.
Utilization of heavy crude including unconventional oil may be indispensable to cope with an increasing demand of crude oil in developing countries, such as China and India. Upgrading technologies and processes are, therefore, important for utilizing such heavy oils. In the present paper, upgrading technologies of carbon rejection and hydrogen addition processes are reviewed. Coking and SDA are focused as carbon rejection process. Hydrogen thermal cracking process based on slurry technology is focused as hydrogen addition process. Characteristics of such processes and possibility for integration of SDA and hydrogen thermal cracking are presented.
Upgrading technology for heavy residue in which sulfur and metals are concentrated is getting more important since crude oils tend to be heavier. In this paper, first characteristics of heavy crude oil are explained, then technologies of residue desulfurization and fluid catalytic cracking in refinery are introduced. Especially, HS-FCC technology, which Nippon oil Co., Saudi Arabia and JCCP are under developing, is focused on as a new technology. Finally, the effect of heavy crude oil on the production of clean fuels is discussed and a promising way to produce clean fuels from heavy residue is proposed.
Flow-through experiments were performed for single tensile fractures artificially created in granite, using Rubber-Confining Pressure Vessel (R-CPV), which has been developed for the experiments under relative high confining pressure conditions up to 100 MPa. The experimental results showed great differences in permeability depending on degree of offset along the fracture surface. In case of the fractures without offset, permeability decreased significantly with increasing confining pressure until around 40-50 MPa, beyond which the permeability, however, decreased gradually and then became constant, and remained much higher than that of rock matrix even at 100 MPa. In case of the fractures with 1, 3, 5 and 10 mm offset, permeability was much higher than that of the fractures without offset. The behavior of permeability for increase of confining pressure, however, drastically changed between 1 mm and other offset conditions. No obvious decrease of permeability was observed with increasing confining pressure in case of 3, 5 and 10 mm offset, while permeability decreased continuously until 70 MPa and abrupt decrease was also observed at 80 MPa in case of 1 mm offset. Those results indicate understanding of offset conditions is a key factor for prediction of productivity in oil/gas fractured reservoir.