CA1196594A - Recovery of oil from tar sands - Google Patents

Recovery of oil from tar sands

Info

Publication number
CA1196594A
CA1196594A CA000400779A CA400779A CA1196594A CA 1196594 A CA1196594 A CA 1196594A CA 000400779 A CA000400779 A CA 000400779A CA 400779 A CA400779 A CA 400779A CA 1196594 A CA1196594 A CA 1196594A
Authority
CA
Canada
Prior art keywords
gas
process
mass
oil
hydrocarbon
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Expired
Application number
CA000400779A
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Guy Savard
Robert G.H. Lee
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Canadian Liquide Air Ltd/air Liquide Canada Ltee
Original Assignee
CANADIAN LIQUIDE AIR LTD./AIR LIQUIDE CANADA LTEE.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by CANADIAN LIQUIDE AIR LTD./AIR LIQUIDE CANADA LTEE. filed Critical CANADIAN LIQUIDE AIR LTD./AIR LIQUIDE CANADA LTEE.
Priority to CA000400779A priority Critical patent/CA1196594A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of CA1196594A publication Critical patent/CA1196594A/en
Application status is Expired legal-status Critical

Links

Classifications

    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C10PETROLEUM, GAS OR COKE INDUSTRIES; TECHNICAL GASES CONTAINING CARBON MONOXIDE; FUELS; LUBRICANTS; PEAT
    • C10GCRACKING HYDROCARBON OILS; PRODUCTION OF LIQUID HYDROCARBON MIXTURES, e.g. BY DESTRUCTIVE HYDROGENATION, OLIGOMERISATION, POLYMERISATION; RECOVERY OF HYDROCARBON OILS FROM OIL-SHALE, OIL-SAND, OR GASES; REFINING MIXTURES MAINLY CONSISTING OF HYDROCARBONS; REFORMING OF NAPHTHA; MINERAL WAXES
    • C10G1/00Production of liquid hydrocarbon mixtures from oil-shale, oil-sand, or non-melting solid carbonaceous or similar materials, e.g. wood, coal
    • C10G1/02Production of liquid hydrocarbon mixtures from oil-shale, oil-sand, or non-melting solid carbonaceous or similar materials, e.g. wood, coal by distillation

Abstract

Abstract of the Disclosure Oil is recovered from tar sands by causing a gas, heated to a temperature within the range from 300°C to 600°C, to flow downward through an enclosed mass of tar sands to cause an oil fraction to separate from the mass by gravi-tational flow and the separated oil fraction is recovered.
The gas may be an inert gas or an active gas. The process may be carried out on masses of tar sands separated from the deposit or in-situ.

Description

365~

This invention relates to the recovery of oil from tar sands.
There are in Western Canada huge deposits of tar sands containing useful oil fractions. However, recovery of the oil is complex, difficult and costly.
A principal surface process for the recovery of oil from tar sands is by hot water immersion followed by extraction of the oil fractionO In the case of subterranean deposits, high pressure steam, at a temperature of about 300C, is injected into the oil-bearing formation for a period of several months, following which the steam is cut off and oil from the heated formation flows to a s~np, whence it is raised to the surface. This is known as the "huff and puff" system. In a variation of this system, steam may be introduced into an injection well and after heating the tar sands to 300C to 400C, the oil fraction, separating from the sand, is driven towards a connecting production well.
These processes are complicated by the fact that, where steam is used, it has to be conveyed from a source, through insulated piping. Also, its thermal efficiency is not more than about 30%, A further complication is that residual water mixes with the oil fraction to form an emulsion from which it is hard to separate the oil.
It is an aim of the present invention to provide a process for recovering oil from tar sands which avoids these disadvantages and provides certain positive advantages as will be selen from the ~ollowing description.
A process according to the invention comprises causing a gas, heated to a temperature within the range r ~ 1 ~ ~

;5~9L

from 300C to 600C, -to flow downward through an enclosed mass of tar sands to cause an oil fraction to separate from the mass by gravitational flow~ The oil fraction i8 re-covered after being forced from the bottom of the retort by the pressure of the incoming gas.
~ Gases which may be used are inert gases, for ,i`, ~/ffo9c~
'~` example, hyd~ogc~, argon, helium, carbon dioxide, or active gases, for ~x~mple, hydrogen or oxygen. In the case of the use of an inert gas, the mixture of gases formed within the mass and emanating therefrom are recovered and the inert gas stripped from the product gases combined with makeup gas, heated and recycled through the mass. Where a hydrocarbon gas is used, it dissolves the hydrocarbon fluid within the tar sands to provide a fluid of lower density, which is recovered.
In the case where oxygen is used, heat is gener-ated by the ensuing combustion of some of the hydrocarbon within the mass, the resulting oil fraction is recovered together with carbon dioxide and water from the reaction.
The latter are separated from the oil fraction.
The invention will be described in more detail, by reference to the accompanying drawings, which illustrate preferred embodiments and in which:
Figure 1 is a diagram showing a typical recovery plant employing an inert gas;
Figure 2 is a graph showing the results of uslng an lnert gas.
~e~erring more particularly to Figure 1, the preferred process illustrated proceeds as follows. A

mass of tar sands, from the Athabasca Tar Sand Fiel.ds, is placed in a retort B (or this may be a number of retorts in seri.es or in parallel) Hot nitrogen, at a temperature of ~50C is introduced into the retort B from the line J.
Passage of the hot gas through the retort B first heats up the mass of tar sands to operating temperature and then causes a gravitational flow of the tar sands assisted by the downward flow of the inert gas~ The oil fraction is forced from the bottom of the retort by the pressure of the 10 incoming gas and passes to an oil-gas separator D. The oil is removed from the separator D and the gas conveyed through a line F.
Off gases coming from the tar sands are bled off at G, while the nitrogen passes through the line H, which is also supplied with fresh hydrogen and flows into the ga.s re~enerator I. The nitrogen is heated in the regenerator I
and passes through the line J and back into the top of the retort B.
The spent tar sand, which is a fine particled relatively dry siliceous mass, is then removed from the retort B and replaced by additional mass of tar sands.
Alternatively, the invention contemplates an in-situ procedure, either to treat surface or subterranean tar sand deposits, specially the latter.
It is seen that, according to the process, des-cribed, the gas is heated to a predetermined temperature and is then circulated through the tar sands. The e~fect is to warm the tar sands to the point where the oil separates. It then drains by gravity to a sump heated by ~6~
the circulating hot gas or gases which flow in the same gravitational direction.
In selecting a gas, suitable for this process, one must consider the results to be achieved. For example, where it is desired to extract the oil from the sand without any reaction, then there may be selected an inert gas, for ~x~mpl e, nitrogen, argon, helium, or CO2.
Nitrogen has proved specially effective when applied to tar sands of the Athabasca typeO Where a tar sand formation is extremely dense and, therefore, qui~e impervious, helium would be preferable to nitrogen.
Under other circumstances, where it is desirable to lower the density of the oil, before pumping to the surface, carbon dioxide would be a preferable gas because of its miscibility in oil.
Under other circumstances, it may be desirable to achieve a partial cracking of the hydrocarbon in order to generate heat. In this case, various concentrations of oxygen, above 70%, and including pure oxygen (99.5%~ may be introduced into the tar sands to provide heat through partial combustion.
Further, one might wish to use hydrogen because of its good heat transfer properties and low density. The introduction of hydrogen may, under suitable conditions, produce hydroforming.
Other suitable gases for oil extraction are re-lated hydrocarbon gases, for example, methane, ethane, propane, or butane.
The optimum temperature is that which extracts I

6~9~L
the greatest amount of vil. The applicants have found that a temperature between about 300C and 600C, preferably 400C
and 500C, makes it possible to extract up to 85% of the oil contained in the sand. Surprisingly, the oil fraction has a viscosity, at 20~C, comparable to that of llibricating oil.
This product has the advantage over the heavy bltumen pro-duct extracted by steam methods which, at room temperature, is not fluid and requires spec:ial insulating precautions to keep it fluid.
The process may be applied to tar sands which are mined at the surface, for ~x~mple~ the Athr~basca Tar Sands.
It may also be used for in-situ recovery where the oil- ~
bearing formation is located 500 metres or more beneath the surface, for ~x~mpl e at Cold Lake, Alberta.
The invention will be further illustrated by reference to the accompany non-limiting example.
~x~mple A mass of 600 grams of Athabasca tar sands con-taining about 14% volatiles by wei~ht, was treated with hot nitrogen (400C) substantially as described above by reference to Figure 1~! The amount of oil extracted was 71.4 grams. This represents a yield of about 85%. This was achieved in not more than 30 minutes, including the initial heating of the mass to extraction temperature.

Claims (11)

The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A process of recovering oil from tar sand, comprising, enclosing a mass of tar sand, made up of oil entrained in a fine particled siliceous material, with-in an enclosed elongated vertical retort vessel having gas and solids entrances,at the top and gas and solids outlets from the bottom and an enclosed unobstructed direct passage extending between them, causing a gas, heated outside the vessel, to a temperature within the range from 300°C to 600°C, to flow into and downward through the passage in contact with the enclosed mass of the tar sand to cause its heating to operating temperature and to cause a liquid oil fraction to separate from the siliceous mass by gravitational flow and by the pressure of incoming gas and to be forced with entrained gas through said gas outlet leaving in the vessel a fine particled relatively dry siliceous mass, recovering the oil fraction so separated from entrained gas, and recovering the siliceous mass from the vessel.
2. A process, as claimed in claim 1, in which the gas is an inert gas.
3. A process, as claimed in claim 2, in which the gas is nitrogen, argon, helium, or carbon dioxide.
4. A process, as claimed in claim 1, in which the gas is an active gas.
5. A process, as claimed in claim 4, in which the gas is hydrogen.
6. A process, as claimed in claim 4, in which the gas is oxygen.
7. A process, as claimed in claim 1, 2 or 3, in which the gases emanating from the mass are re-covered and the inert gas stripped from the product gases then combined with makeup gas, heated and recycled through the mass.
8. A process, as claimed in claim 1, in which the gas is a hydrocarbon soluble in the hydrocarbon fluid of the tar sands.
9. A process, as claimed in claim 8, in which the hydrocarbon gas dissolves in part of the hydro-carbon fluid to provide a fluid of lower density, and recovering said lower density fluid.
10. A process, as claimed in claim 1, in which the gas contains oxygen whereby part of the oil in the tar sand is burned to produce a partial cracking of the hydrocarbon to provide heat.
11. A process, as claimed in claim 1, 2 or 3, in which the gas flowing into and downward through the passage contains oxygen, whereby part of the oil in the tar sand is burned to produce a partial cracking of the hydrocarbon to produce heat and in which the gases emanating from the mass are recovered and the inert gas stripped from the product gases and combined with make-up gas, heated and recycled through the mass of tar sand.
CA000400779A 1982-04-08 1982-04-08 Recovery of oil from tar sands Expired CA1196594A (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
CA000400779A CA1196594A (en) 1982-04-08 1982-04-08 Recovery of oil from tar sands

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
CA000400779A CA1196594A (en) 1982-04-08 1982-04-08 Recovery of oil from tar sands

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
CA1196594A true CA1196594A (en) 1985-11-12

Family

ID=4122550

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
CA000400779A Expired CA1196594A (en) 1982-04-08 1982-04-08 Recovery of oil from tar sands

Country Status (1)

Country Link
CA (1) CA1196594A (en)

Cited By (15)

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WO2005116166A1 (en) * 2004-05-27 2005-12-08 Francois Jacques Labuschagne Separating wax from siliceous materials
US7644765B2 (en) 2006-10-20 2010-01-12 Shell Oil Company Heating tar sands formations while controlling pressure
US7673786B2 (en) 2006-04-21 2010-03-09 Shell Oil Company Welding shield for coupling heaters
US7735935B2 (en) 2001-04-24 2010-06-15 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of an oil shale formation containing carbonate minerals
US7798220B2 (en) 2007-04-20 2010-09-21 Shell Oil Company In situ heat treatment of a tar sands formation after drive process treatment
US7860377B2 (en) 2005-04-22 2010-12-28 Shell Oil Company Subsurface connection methods for subsurface heaters
US7866386B2 (en) 2007-10-19 2011-01-11 Shell Oil Company In situ oxidation of subsurface formations
US7942203B2 (en) 2003-04-24 2011-05-17 Shell Oil Company Thermal processes for subsurface formations
US8151880B2 (en) 2005-10-24 2012-04-10 Shell Oil Company Methods of making transportation fuel
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US8224164B2 (en) 2002-10-24 2012-07-17 Shell Oil Company Insulated conductor temperature limited heaters
US8220539B2 (en) 2008-10-13 2012-07-17 Shell Oil Company Controlling hydrogen pressure in self-regulating nuclear reactors used to treat a subsurface formation
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US8701768B2 (en) 2010-04-09 2014-04-22 Shell Oil Company Methods for treating hydrocarbon formations
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US8608249B2 (en) 2001-04-24 2013-12-17 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of an oil shale formation
US7735935B2 (en) 2001-04-24 2010-06-15 Shell Oil Company In situ thermal processing of an oil shale formation containing carbonate minerals
US8224164B2 (en) 2002-10-24 2012-07-17 Shell Oil Company Insulated conductor temperature limited heaters
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