In 2004 MEG Energy (Calgary, Canada) and WRI initiated a research and development effort to evaluate and develop a partial upgrading technology to produce a pipeline ready product from their produced bitumen without the use of diluent. Bitumen is the hydrocarbon product recovered from the Alberta oil sands deposits in Canada. The bitumen is a highly viscous material that will not flow in pipelines. As a result, the bitumen must be diluted with a light hydrocarbon to meet pipeline specification for transport to market.
The diluent is expensive and consumes valuable pipeline space. It is desirable to partially upgrade the bitumen to produce a product that will meet pipeline specification without the use of added diluent. The heavy oil technology center (HOTC) worked closely with MEG personnel to develop and evaluate processing concepts that resulted in the HI-Q® technology.
The SET team has successfully advanced the HI-Q® technology from the conceptual design through a 1 bbl/day process development unit (PDU) and on to a 5 bbl/d pilot plant. The studies have identified the operating envelope, defined optimum operating conditions, and simplified the process to be a robust, field deployable technology. The HOTC team has handed the technology off to MEG Energy for further evaluation in a commercial demonstration facility.
The HI-Q® technology produces a pipeline product with several advantages over partial upgrading by delayed coking.
Meets pipeline specifications
API° density – 20.1
Viscosity – 58.52 cSt
High liquid yield (90%) without needing a catalyst
Reduced use of hydrogen, thus decreasing operating costs
Product has favorable characteristics that increase its marketability
Lower GHG emissions and higher product quality than a sour syncrude