StatoilHydro studies carbon dioxide reduction at Leismer

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

LONDON, Sept. 18 -- StatoilHydro is exploring ways to reduce water use and carbon dioxide emissions at its Leismer Oilsands demonstration project, 160 km south of Fort McMurray, Alta. The project is slated to produce 20,000 b/d starting in 2010.

The company hopes the research could yield at least 10% savings on the steam-to-oil ratio required for extraction, and may be as much as 25%.

StatoilHydro’s pilot project, Solve, will focus on steam-solvent coinjection to potentially reduce the steam-to-oil ratio and increase the bitumen recovery in partnership with the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) in Regina, Sask. Drilling of coinjection well pairs at the demonstration site will happen this year, injecting of steam in early 2010, and coinjection beginning in the autumn of 2011.

Solve received $6 million (Can.) in funding from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support its research. “Reducing the steam-to-oil ratio effectively lowers water use and CO2 emissions because the solvent raises the amount of bitumen produced per barrel of water and fuel consumed,” said StatoilHydro.

The company’s solvent coinjection steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology will test specific wells on Leismer field with the hope that this could be applied all over. Around 20 technologies will be deployed at the plant.

“SAGD is the predominant in-situ recovery method currently used in Canada’s oil sands. Unlike surface-mined oil sands, in-situ recovery involves much less land disturbance but still requires the use of water and natural gas in the steam production process. Burning natural gas produces CO2 emissions,” it added.

The Solve project will also consider the impact of factors like solvent loss, oil production, energy use, and water consumption.

Despite Statoil’s commitment to environmental management, its involvement in oil sands has proved to be controversial in the nation’s general elections, which go to the polls on Sept. 14.

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Norwegian media recently it is Canada’s responsibility to cut its emissions as debate raged during the political campaign about who should take care of the matter.

Helge Lund, the company’s chief executive, insisted its investment in Canada was necessary as the world’s energy demand was expected to increase sharply in coming decades, driven mainly by population growth and increased standards of living.

“By building a demonstration plant first, we have chosen a stepwise approach. We have decided to prioritize learning and knowledge before rapid project development and production,” he said. “The facility will provide valuable operational experience and a basis on which to adapt further work in line with technological developments.”

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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