Measurement and Testing

  • How is Oil Sands Production Changing?

How is Oil Sands Production Changing?

Oct 01 2018 Read 437 Times

Alberta is currently sitting on the world's third largest oil sands reserve, headed closely by Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The USA is another major oil-producing nation, with Utah cradling the country's biggest oil sands stash.

Oil sands, explained

Made up of sand, water and bitumen, the unconventional petroleum deposit can be difficult, and expensive, to exploit. Now, the USA is breaking new ground with an exciting new technology that could revolutionise the country's oil sands production industry.

While in 2017 the EIA criticised Utah for failing to pursue the "price-sensitive and water-intensive development of the state's oil shale and oil sand resources", the new technology from California-based company Petroteq Energy could mark a new era of commercially profitable oil sands production.

David Sealock, Petroteq’s CEO, describes the technology as "disruptive" and asserts, “there was a treasure chest here that didn’t have a key, and this technology is the key.”

Efficient, affordable, water free technology

Unlike Canada's oil sands industry which has come under fire for its environmentally destructive nature, Petroteq maintains that its breakthrough approach is both affordable and eco-friendly. The proprietary, waterless technology relies on solvents that actively separate oil from rock and extract heavy oil sands. After oil has been extracted the sand, which is free from oil and solvents, can be deposited back into the site.

“What’s in Canada is an environmental nightmare,” says Jerry Bailey, president of Petroteq. “With our operation, nothing goes in the air, nothing goes in the ground, and there is no water involved.”

The environmental impact of transporting oil will also be much less extreme, with Bailey pointing out that Utah isn't plagued with the same pipeline troubles as Canada. Instead, oil producers can simply sell crude to local refineries capable of processing the oil sands.

Competitive profit margins for Petroteq

Currently, Petroteq is eyeing roughly 15 billion barrels of oil sands reserves in Utah, a figure that could be built on if production goes ahead in neighbouring Rocky Mountain States. The company is also looking to license its technology in countries like Australia and Colombia, where the oil sands industry is quickly gaining momentum. Petroteq is also claiming that it can turn a profit if oil prices don't drop below US$32 per barrel, which puts it in league with some of the world's most competitive shale basins. With WTI currently trading at just under US$70 a barrel, there's plenty of room to manoeuvre.

In the face of global droughts, water conservation is front of mind for many oil producers. For a closer look at the latest technologies being used to heighten environmental credentials in the oil and gas industry don't miss 'A paradigm shift for shale: the environmental, financial, and litigative impetus for produced water recycling'

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