May 6, 2014

EAP Breakfast focuses on latest research on heavy oil

Harvey Yarranton, NSERC Industrial Research Chair, demystifies fluid properties

“Fluid properties are at the heart of many of the things we do to recover and process heavy oil,” said Harvey Yarranton, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, as he addressed a gathering of EAP members April 25. He described how heavy oil processes involve reducing the viscosity of heavy oil from something like molasses to a fluid that flows like motor oil. He went on to disclose the advances made by his research team in the quest to understand the fluid properties of heavy oil so that more effective, efficient, and environmentally friendly processes can be developed.

Says Cecile Siewe, manager – upgrading technology at Shell Canada, who has been attending the EAP breakfast series for over two years: “Shell Canada is one of the supporters of Dr. Yarranton’s research, so I am quite familiar with what his team is working on and what it has achieved. And yet, in today’s presentation, he distilled the research is a way that it was simple and easy to understand, and I learned so much.” She also said that the EAP breakfasts were a great way to connect with people who were working in the same area and form new collaborations.

Yarranton’s research has a direct bearing on improving the recovery of the 1.7 trillion barrels of heavy oil and bitumen in Alberta. “With today’s technology, we can only recover 10 percent of the oil currently underground,” he says. “It is critical to understand the properties of heavy oil and the issues it creates in order to develop processes that will improve our ability to recover this key resource.”

His research has recently been used in process/reservoir simulators, design of a froth treatment plant, assisting in a solvent deasphalting pilot study and assessment of weathering of spilled dilbit.

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