ConocoPhillips works to improve product flexibility at Surmont while lowering emissions
In this week's 2018-2020 operational update, Houston-based ConocoPhillips says it is looking at modifying its Surmont SAGD facility to use condensate instead of synthetic crude as a diluent for its heavy oil.
Improving diluent flexibility
Production from the Surmont SAGD facility is normally diluted with synthetic crude oil (SCO) to produce a Synbit stream knows as the Surmont Heavy Blend. SCO is upgraded bitumen produced at most oil sands mining facilities north of Fort McMurray, AB.
Last summer's outage of Syncrude's 350,000 bbl/day Mildred Lake upgrader sent SCO prices soaring, causing widespread shortages for Synbit producers. Both ConocoPhillips and Nexen's Long Lake facility were force to cut production due to a lack of diluent volumes.
Aside from Surmont and Long Lake, most other in-situ operators use condensate as a diluent, producing a Dilbit stream which is slightly lighter than Synbit.
ConocoPhillips says modifications are underway to allow Surmont the flexibility of using either SCO or condensate as a diluent, allowing it to improve netbacks, particularly during a diluent shortage. The company says modifications should be completed by 2019.
Lowering steam loads
Aside from the diluent flexibility project, ConocoPhillips also says pilot testing of non-condensable gas (NCG) co-injection proved successful at Surmont on 3 well pairs and has since been expanded to 9 well pairs. The NCG pilot has reduced steam loads by about 20% to date and has the potential to lower GHG emission by 10 to 15% across the in-situ facility.
In 2015, ConocoPhillips embarked on an emissions reduction strategy to reduce GHG intensity per barrel by 5 to 15% from 2017 levels across its entire production portfolio.
Surmont is 50/50 joint-venture with French energy major Total.