September 2014

Special Report: Refining Developments

Optimize field upgrading of oil sands with slurry-phase combi-cracking technology

Slurry-phase combi-crackers are able to process a much wider range of feeds—including those with very high levels of metals, asphaltenes and sulfur—that cannot be economically upgraded in fixed-bed or ebullated-bed reactors, which makes this process ideal for upgrading oil sands.

Schleiffer, A., BP Refining & Petrochemicals GmbH; Till, A., FIChemE; Brown, B., AMIChemE

Canada is home to the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world of more than 174 Bbbl. Of these reserves, only a small portion exists as conventional crude oil, and the remainder (170 Bbbl) exists in the form of oil sands (Fig. 1).   Fig. 1. World proven oil reserves, 2014. Oil sands are a naturally occurring mixture of sand, clay, water and a viscous form of petroleum known as bitumen (Fig. 2). At 11°C, this bitumen is extremely hard, making it notoriously difficult to extract.   Fig. 2. A sample of oil sands. If the deposit is close to the surface, the oil sand may be extracted using traditional surface mining techniques. However, if it is

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