Published: December 2008
This report presents preliminary process designs and the corresponding production economics (capex + opex) for upgrading tar sands to synthetic crude oil that can be pumped through common carrier pipelines. Although we focus on Canadian Tar Sands in this report, the same technologies can be applied to Orinoco heavy oil (Venezuela), and other sources of extractable bitumen.
We examine the nature and composition of various tar sand sources in situ, and present 2 process technologies for extraction of Athabasca (Alberta) tar sands:
- Surface mining + conventional retorting
- Steam assisted gravity drainage
We then examine methods for upgrading the resulting bitumen to a pumpable synthetic crude oil, and present one preliminary process design for processing tar sands through conventional refinery process equipment. This involves pre-treating the bitumen with hydrogen, followed by delayed coking to convert the bitumen primarily to gas oil + delayed coke.