Shell Canada begins first commercial use of more efficient oil sands treatment method
CALGARY, ALTA-Shell Canada is launching the first commercial application of its Shell Enhance(TM) froth treatment technology, an innovative high-temperature processing technology for treating froth, the mixture of oil, solids and water obtained through the initial extraction of oil sands. Shell Enhance uses higher temperatures in the paraffinic froth treatment process to separate sand, fine clay particles and other impurities from oil sands froth faster and at a more efficient rate, utilizing less energy. The technology will enable Shell to use smaller equipment, less water and less energy per barrel than conventional low-temperature paraffinic processing. Less energy use will in turn reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with oil sands production. The company says the Shell Enhance technology will improve froth treatment process energy efficiency by 10%, translating to a GHG reduction of about 40,000 tonnes per year. It takes up 35% less plot space, its essential equipment being 75% per cent smaller, and uses 10% less water. Additionally, it can be modularized, generating construction efficiencies and reducing costs. Shell Canada developed the technology with the help of government scientists at Natural Resources Canada's CANMET Energy Technology Centre facility in Devon, Alberta. Shell Enhance froth treatment technology will be utilized in the first expansion of the Athabasca oil sands project (AOSP), which was formally launched on November 1, 2006. Completed in 2003, the AOSP uses innovative technology throughout its oil sands extraction and upgrading processes and is the first oil sands project to be ISO 14001 registered.