N-Solv receives new round of funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)
August 22, 2011
Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has approved a further $10 million in funding to N-Solv, to develop the company’s innovative Bitumen Extraction Solvent Technology (BEST) at a pilot plant in Alberta, Canada, a collaboration between N-Solv, Hatch, Suncor Energy, Enbridge, and Bay International.
The announcement was made by Lee Richardson, a Calgary-area Member of Parliament at an event hosted at Hatch’s Calgary office. A national announcement was also made by the Honorable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.
N-Solv is a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta and is owned by Hatch, Enbridge, and Nenniger Inc.
Through this project, N-Solv will demonstrate BEST, a low temperature, primary, in-situ production technology for bitumen reserves using a pure, condensing solvent. The N-Solv technology will produce 85% less greenhouse gases than Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and will reduce the consumption of process water to zero. The N-Solv process is expected to have lower operating and capital costs than SAGD with fewer restrictions on the reservoir conditions under which it can operate.
Canada has 170 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil stored in its oil sands — the vast majority of which are located in the western province of Alberta. Oil sands deposits exist in other countries, including the United States, Russia and the Middle East, but the world's largest deposits are in Canada and Venezuela, each of which have oil sand reserves approximately equal to the world's total reserves of conventional crude oil.
Of the remaining established reserves in Alberta, 80% are too deep to be mined and are currently recovered using in-situ processes such as SAGD, which is both water and energy-intensive.
As a critical step in the technology commercialization continuum, and to demonstrate the operability and performance of in-situ extraction using a pure solvent in actual reservoir conditions, N-Solv will drill and complete a 300 metre producer and injector well pair, and complete final engineering and construction of a supporting 500 barrel per day surface facility located at the Suncor Energy Dover oil sands facility near Fort MacKay, Alberta. First production of bitumen is scheduled for Q4 2012.
Suncor Energy is an essential collaborator on this project. The host site at Dover is being provided in-kind to the project, which represents a significant non-cash investment by Suncor. Additionally, the site is uniquely set up for demonstration activities, including the existence of numerous, well-analyzed core samples, several observation wells, an all-weather road, other onsite infrastructure, and an extensive library of studies to facilitate permitting. Suncor is providing the expertise of its in-situ team, its drilling and completions engineers, environmental managers, as well as procurement of well equipment and instrumentation through their volume purchasing contracts. The use of this facility and Suncor’s contribution to the project cuts significant time and cost in the commercialization timeline for N-Solv.
Hatch has delivered its experience and skills as a multi-disciplinary, engineering consulting firm to develop the process and pilot plant, and is responsible for process flow diagrams, equipment selection, mechanical, electrical, piping, and structural designs, cost estimates, schedules, and project management. Hatch will provide the complete EPCM scope for the field pilot.
Enbridge is one of the continent’s most extensive transporters of liquid and gaseous products. Enbridge is intimately involved in oil sands projects through the supply of natural gas and diluent, and through the export of dilbit and synthetic crude oil to upgraders and refineries. Enbridge has an extensive network of pipelines across North America, brings well established relationships with operators and refiners, and will be influential in marketing the technology.
SDTC is a not-for-profit foundation that finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies. It operates funds aimed at the development and demonstration of innovative technological solutions, including those that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil. SDTC was established by the Government of Canada in 2001 and reports to the Canadian Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources.