The THAI™ process was first used by Petrobank at its Christina Lake site in the Athabasca Oil Sands, Canada, in June 2006 in a pilot operation which is currently producing 3,000 barrels of oil a day. This was on deposits of bitumen - similar to the surface coating of roads - rather than heavy oil.
Petrobank is applying for permission to expand this to 10,000 barrels a day though there is a potential for this to rise to 100,000.
The 50,000 acre site owned by Petrobank contains an estimated 2.6 billion barrels of bitumen. The Athabasca Oil Sands region is the single largest petroleum deposit on earth, bigger than that of Saudi Arabia.
Professor Greaves, of the Universitys Department of Chemical Engineering, said: When the Canadian engineers at the Christina Lake site turned on the new system, in three separate sections, it worked amazingly well and oil is being produced at twice the amount that they thought could be extracted.
Its been quite a struggle to get the invention from an idea to a prototype and into use, over the last 17 years. For most of the time people werent very interested because heavy oil was so much more difficult and expensive to produce than conventional light oil.
But with light oil now hitting around 100 dollars a barrel, its economic to think of using heavy oil, especially since THAI™ can produce oil for less than 10 dollars a barrel.
Weve seen this project go from something that many people said would not work into something we can have confidence in, all in the space of the last 18 months.
Professor Greaves, who was previously Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and who al
|Contact: Tony Trueman|
University of Bath