The Steam Oil Production Company (“Steam Oil”) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a cooperation agreement with FluidOil, the independent international heavy oil technology company, to explore the potential of integrating FluidOil’s Viscositor Heavy-to-Light (“VHTL”) oil upgrading technology into an offshore steam flooding project.
Steam Oil is working on plans to launch the world’s first major offshore steam flooding project. Steam Oil has under licence or award a number of heavy oil reservoirs in the UK, in an area known as the Western Platform, some 140 km east of Aberdeen. These discoveries have a total of nearly 650 million barrels of oil (“mmbbls”) in place.
As a first step to developing this resource base, and to learn how best to steam flood offshore, Steam Oil plans to construct a steam flood demonstration project on part of the Pilot field. The subsequent steam flood development of the remainder of the Pilot field, and the other Western Platform heavy oil fields, has the potential to produce in excess of 300 mmbbls. Further exploration success could increase the potential recoverable resource base from the Western Platform to over 500 mmbbls.
FluidOil’s VHTL technology generates significant volumes of high pressure steam, and its integration into the process design for the follow-on Western Platform Steam Flood project could reduce separation, steam generation and associated fuel requirements. As part of the cooperation agreement, FluidOil and Steam Oil intend to explore this potential and to determine the plant configuration which maximises process synergies, delivers the highest value of product from the Western Platform reservoirs, and minimises fuel costs.
Steve Brown, CEO of Steam Oil, said: “We are very taken with the obvious synergies of integrating FluidOil’s upgrading technology into a steam flooding project. Steam flooding is the most effective recovery mechanism for heavy oil and we expect to see recovery factors of between 50% and 80% when we steam flood these reservoirs. To do that we will need a lot of steam and the steam produced as a by-product of FluidOil’s upgrading process will significantly reduce our fuel costs. In addition, the VHTL process does not demand a stringent water-in-oil content specification so we can simplify our process requirements. Finally, the VHTL process consumes heavy metals and naphthenic acid and other contaminants which refiners do not like and which would otherwise affect the value of our crude.”
Charles Parker, CEO of FluidOil, said: “We are pleased to be playing a part in what could potentially be the first project of its kind. At a time when the industry is looking to maximise value, we believe that our patented technology could help play an important role in enabling offshore heavy oil producers realise greater returns from their output. Our proposition was developed to help reduce the financial and environmental costs for heavy oil producers around the world. We are thrilled to be teaming up with Steam Oil to deploy an integrated thermal production and upgrading proposition for UK heavy oil.”
Notes to Editors:
The Steam Oil Production Company
The Steam Oil Production Company was established with the intention of launching the first major offshore steam flooding project in the world. The heavy oil reservoirs on the Western Platform: Pilot, Elke, Blakeney, Harbour, Narwhal & Feugh, will all respond very well to a steam flood and we believe the already discovered fields on Steam Oil's acreage have the potential to produce in excess of 300 mmbbls. Exploration success could increase the recoverable resource base on the Western Platform to over 500 mmbbls.
FluidOil is an independent international heavy oil technology company that is commercialising "VISCOSITOR Heavy to Light" (VHTL). VHTL is a proprietary and patented technology that will significantly increase the economic viability of heavy oil by upgrading it close to source, to produce higher value synthetic crude oil.
VHTL combines FluidOil’s patented ‘VISCOSITOR’ technology with the ‘Heavy-to-Light’ (HTLTM) upgrading process, which FluidOil acquired when it purchased the intellectual property of Ivanhoe Energy Inc. in 2016. The VHTL process is a simplification of the traditional Fluidised Catalytic Cracking (FCC) process, which is well understood and widely used in petroleum refineries today.
VHTL has the capability to upgrade heavy oil from less than 10º API into a synthetic crude oil with a gravity of between 23º and 29º API, while removing most of the heavy metals, lowering sulphur content, significantly reducing the Total Acid Number, and lowering the viscosity. The combination of these effects simplifies the handling of the crude oil, reducing production and logistics costs, and allows heavy oil producers to obtain a significantly higher realised price for their product - up to $20 bbl.