Acceleware successfully field tests low-carbon, low-cost oil sands production technology

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Acceleware RF XL technology cost per barrel vs SAGD

Acceleware had all objectives successfully achieved during the three-day test run

Calgary-based Acceleware Ltd. says it has successfully tested a new radio frequency technology that reduces emissions and costs for oil sands production, potentially eliminating steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) techniques.

RF XL is a “revolutionary” low-cost, low-carbon radio frequency (RF) enhanced oil recovery for both situ oil sands and heavy oil production, according to the company.

Acceleware says it has successfully completed the first phase of a multi-phase field test program and has sold the data and a report from the test to an oil sands producer.

“We are excited to continue our validation of the massive potential of RF XL. While it is certainly a lower cost, lower emissions alternative to SAGD, we expect it may play an even bigger role as a clean and efficient way to access 90 per cent of oil sands deposits in Alberta that have not been commercially accessible to date,” said Mike Tourigny, VP commercialization for RF Heating in a press release.

Acceleware Ltd. says it has successfully completed the first phase of a multi-phase field test program for its RF XL enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology, according to a press release.

Acceleware previously announced that in partnership with GE, it plans to complete a multi-stage pilot test for the “disruptive” new heavy oil and oil sands production technology.

Phase One of the multi-stage program involved a near-surface test of RF XL. The test was run at 1/20 of commercial scale power and length to validate core design elements of the solution.

RF XL is designed to optimize RF heating for oil production in five main ways:

  1. the system utilizes a unique RF transmission line system that is able to carry high levels of RF power;
  2. the transmission line system is highly efficient;
  3. the system delivers heat to the formation quickly after start-up;
  4. the system employs a highly efficient silicon carbide (SiC) based RF power generator; and
  5. the technology is scalable to very long horizontal wells.

Specific objectives included:

  1. demonstrating that RF XL is capable of delivering high levels of power from the surface into the target formation;
  2. confirming that transmission line system losses are very low;
  3. proving that the technology can heat the test formation of sand and water as efficiently and quickly as predicted in simulations; and
  4. validating the accuracy of Acceleware’s RF heating simulator, AxHeat.

Tourigny says the Acceleware team is pleased to report that all of these objectives have been successfully achieved during the three-day test run.

The test delivered average power of 75kW, with peak power of 85 kW. Transmission line losses were below 1 per cent per 100m, well within predictions. RF XL was able to heat the test formation up to steam saturation temperature within the three-day test period.

Preliminary analysis of the test results show greater than 85 per cent correlation with AxHeat simulations.

These positive test results are very significant in that they demonstrate that key components of RF XL are technically sound, and therefore Acceleware is now planning for Phase Two – a commercial-scale field test.

The second phase is planned for 2017 and 2018, and will deploy a 1,000 metre RF XL heating system using Acceleware and GE’s SiC power electronics technology into an oil sands reservoir with fully instrumented wells.

The test will use commercially viable dimensions and power levels to further confirm efficiency and production estimates.

The patent-pending RF XL heating technology has the potential to save billions of dollars in oil sands production costs by reducing both capital and operating costs by at least 50 per cent, according to Tourigny.

RF XL offers immediate and significant improvements in GHG emissions, water use, land use, and does not require the use of solvents.

As an electrically driven process, RF XL can eventually provide a clear pathway to zero GHG emissions production of heavy oil and oil sands.

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