September 2012

Special Report: Refining Developments

Upgrade heavy oil more cost-efficiently

A new technology can economically upgrade and significantly improve the properties of heavy oil by reducing viscosity, increasing gravity and removing contaminants.

Heavy petroleum resources are becoming significantly more important as the availability of light, sweet crude oil continues to decline (Fig. 1). Heavy-oil resources are difficult to extract, transport and refine. Producers are focused on heavy-oil regions around the world, such as Venezuela, the Amazon basin and Canada’s oil sands. A new technology can be used in the field to economically upgrade and significantly improve the properties of heavy oil by reducing viscosity, increasing gravity and removing contaminants (Fig. 2). The authors discuss the economic drivers and benefits now available with this new method.     Fig. 1. Global Oil recoverable resources.

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