Project Synopsis

Pilot scale process design and front-end engineering design package for a novel bitumen / heavy oil upgrading unit designed to reduce the feedstock viscosity.

Project Summary

Heavy Oil Upgrading System Pilot Plant Process Design

Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client, a technology development company, to develop a process design and capital cost estimate for the client’s 1,000 barrel per day pilot-scale facility to be used for proving a unique concept for bitumen / heavy oil upgrading (viscosity reduction).  The client's goal is to enable economical field treatment of heavy oils to lighter fractions, thereby making them easier to pump and process. More specifically, PROCESS performed the following tasks in support of this design effort:

  • Characterized the bitumen / heavy oil feed stream based on chromatography data provided by the client and simulated distillation curve techniques for estimating normal boiling point (NBP) distributions for the feed.
  • Performed process simulations of the bitumen / heavy oil feed and product process, equipment, and piping system using licensed commercial process simulation software to determine: (1) head required to pump the specified feed and product flow rates from the feed surge tank, processing chamber collection sump, and product surge tank, (2) the flow rates and properties of the vent gas streams, and (3) heat duty and percent recovery for a vent condenser designed to capture gases evolved from the process.
  • Performed calculations and provided preliminary design sketches for a heavy oil distributor and a specialty processing device to be built into the processing chamber.  These calculations included: (1) required pressure drop and hole sizes for a perforated pipe distributor and (2) the device characteristics required to maintain predetermined heavy oil flow regime requirements.
  • Worked extensively with equipment and instrumentation vendors to specify and provide purchased cost quotations for all required equipment, valves, and instrumentation.
  • Developed a process design level capital cost estimate using PROCESS' in-house factored capital cost estimating program for the purchase and construction of the pilot plant.

The information generated during the process design was assimilated into a comprehensive process design package that was submitted to the client.  The design package included the following elements:

  • Simulation and calculation results
  • Process and process control descriptions
  • P&IDs
  • Equipment, valve, and instrument specifications
  • Vendor proposal submittals
  • Purchased cost information
  • Capital cost estimate for the pilot plant

Industry Type

  • Oil Field Services
  • Oil & Gas Field Processing

Utilized Skills

  • Pilot plant design
  • New technology development assistance
  • Front end engineering design (FEED)
  • Process design level cost estimation

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