Heavy oil processing

Geological exploration data indicate that reserves of light oil are decreasing each year, while the role of heavy crude is increasing. Traditionally, heavy oil is defined as oil with a density of less than 20° API.

As heavy crude cannot be transported by pipelines given its viscosity and is refined at existing oil refineries, two methods are currently used to transport it to sites where it is refined:

  • Mixing with light petroleum for subsequent transportation and refining
  • Processing of heavy crude at the site of extraction while synthetic oil obtained as a result

The first option is the least cost effective; when adding cheaper heavy oil to expensive light oil, the qualitative parameters of the resulting mix deteriorate. This reduces the value of commodity mix and as result profit of oil companies is decreasing.

For heavy oil processing at site of extraction, a special heavy crude refining complex can be installed. The refinery produces synthetic oil, which is transported and easily processed at the oil refinery, and road asphalt, which is a high-demand product.

 

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