Mircowaving oilsands to extract the oil
I discussed this topic a little over 4-years ago – it’s not new.
16 Jun 2016
National Post – (Latest Edition)
Is this the WAVE of the FUTURE for the oilsands?
ACCELEWARE SHARES HEAT UP ON DEAL TO TEST ‘INSIDE- OUT MICROWAVE’ EXTRACTION TECHNOLOGY
Triple-digit-share-price jumps have been rare in Calgary since oil prices began to tumble two years ago.
This week, however, micro-cap oilfield service and technology firm Acceleware Ltd.’ s shares climbed 766 per cent in one day, from 3 cents to 26 cents on Tuesday, after it announced a partnership with General Electric Co. to test a cleaner, greener oilsands extraction technique.
“It’s an inside- out microwave,” Acceleware’s vice- president of commercialization and RF Heating Mike Tourigny said in an interview about his company’s patent- pending process, which is now heading into a pilot project with GE.
The basic premise is not new: researchers around North America have been working on microwavetype techniques for heating bitumen for years. But the partnership with research and development giant GE and its research centre in Calgary is new, and provided the boost to Acceleware’s shares on the Venture exchange. Acceleware shares closed at 22 cents on Wednesday
“We were familiar with the technology but really hadn’t been directly involved with any operators or oilsands companies with that technology,” GE Global Research’s manager in Canada Brian Gregg said.
Acceleware’s oilsands extraction technique would use radio waves rather than steam to heat up bitumen and draw it to the surface, allowing operators to eliminate their need for water and dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The system would work by lowering antennas into an oilsands formation to emit radio waves that would heat up the crude using only electricity.
“If we could tap into a renewable source of energy, we could be zero emissions,” Tourigny said of the method.
The technology is three to five years away from commercial use, Tourigny said, and he acknowledged that other companies have proposed new and competing methods to pull oil from the oilsands with fewer emissions. He is also aware most of those methods have yet to be put to commercial use.
However, Tourigny said that oilsands companies are under increasing pressure to reduce their emissions as provincial, national and global climate change targets and policies come into force. Companies no longer have the luxury of time to make smaller, incremental improvements to their processes.
“We don’t have 10 years to get something that can make a 20- per- cent difference. We’ve got to get some things that can have a massive impact and be not just functional but profitable,” Tourigny said.
In Alberta, oilsands operators are faced with a strict, cumulative 100- megatonne emissions limit as the result of the provincial government’s recently introduced climate- change policies, which means that all future projects will need to be significantly less emissionsintensive than current projects.
“We know we need solutions and we need them faster than before,” Gregg said.
Tourigny did not s ay which major oil companies Acceleware was working with but the patent application his company’s chief scientist Michal Okoniewski filed in Dec. 2015 lists senior engineers at Chevron Corp. as co-inventors of the radio- wave based hydrocarbon extraction technique.
Chevron owns 20 per cent of Shell Canada Ltd.’ s Muskeg River and Jackpine oilsands mines. Chevron also owns a 60- per- cent interest in heavy oil leases in the region that it plans to develop using steam- assisted gravity drainage ( SAGD) methods.
A spokesperson for the San Ramon, Calif.- based oil producer declined to comment on whether or not Chevron is working with Acceleware or if it would use a radio- wave based approach at potential future oilsands projects.