Shell Canada has announced the first commercial application of a new high-temperature froth treatment processing technology—Shell Enhance—that it says will improve energy efficiency and reduce costs in oil sands production.
Developed by Shell Canada with the help of government scientists at Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET Energy Technology Centre facility in Devon, Alberta, Shell Enhance froth treatment technology is a process that removes sand, fine clay and water from oil sands froth to make clean bitumen suitable for upgrading via hydrogen addition, which is the upgrading method used at Shell Canada’s Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton. Shell Enhance will use higher temperatures to make the separation process happen at a faster and more efficient rate, utilizing less energy.
Froth is the mixture of oil, solids and water that results from the extraction process. By processing froth at a higher temperature, Shell Canada will be able to use smaller equipment, less water and less energy per barrel than conventional low temperature paraffinic processing. By saving energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with oil sands production are also reduced.
Compared to Shell Canada’s current paraffinic froth treatment processes, Shell Enhance offers the following benefits:
- Improves energy efficiency by 10 per cent (about 40,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year);
- Uses 10 per cent less water;
- Uses plot space 35% smaller and essential equipment 75% smaller; and
- Can be modularized, generating construction efficiencies and reducing costs.
Shell will apply its new froth treatment technology in the first expansion of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP), which was formally launched on November 1, 2006. (Earlier post.)