​Acceleware steps closer to commercializing RF oilsands production technology

1. Horizontal wells are drilled and completed in a similar fashion to a SAGD well pair; 2. High-efficiency RF generators convert electricity to RF energy, which energizes the formation; 3. RF energy turns connate water into steam, which then heats the oil and allows it to flow to the producer well; 4. This 'volumetric heating' effect allows RF XL to heat the entire formation far more efficiently than steam injection, according to the company. Image: Acceleware

Following a successful 1/20-scale field test earlier this year, Acceleware continues to invest in its radio frequency (RF) heating research and development for oilsands production.

The company says it sold the data and results of the field test to an oilsands producer during the second quarter.

“Our intentions are to at least start commercial-scale field tests of RF heating [by year-end],” Geoff Clark, Acceleware’s chief executive officer, told JWN.

The Calgary-based software development company won the 2017 Global Petroleum Show Award for Emerging Clean Technology for its RF technology.

By using radio waves instead of steam, Acceleware expects to drive down the costs and environmental impacts of oilsands production to that of other lower-intensity global sources of crude oil.

Last summer the company partnered with GE to conduct a 1/20 scale field test with the objectives of demonstrating the heating of a sand formation similar to an oilsands reservoir, to confirm the results predicted by Acceleware's AxHeat RF heating simulation software and to prove out the concepts around RF energy transmission from the generator to the oil bearing formation.

Having satisfied these objectives, Acceleware now needs to partner with an oilsands producer for a commercial-scale test. The TSX-listed company also needs additional funding.

“I won’t say we have those things firmed up yet, but we feel pretty good about starting that project before the end of the year,” Clark said.

Acceleware is talking to multiple producers — “One [of which] we’re talking very seriously with,” he added.

Meanwhile Acceleware is running in the red in order to develop RF technology. While its software and services business bounced back in Q1 2017, Acceleware still faces a challenging oil and gas market, with lower revenues compared to this time last year.

For the six months ended June 30, 2017, the company’s RF development operating loss increased 45 per cent to $1,146,178 from $790,952 for same period last year.

Clark, however, remains undaunted: “We think we’re on the cusp of something good. This field test was very encouraging, so we think it’s worth it to get to the commercial scale test.”