Acceleware to proceed with commercial RF oilsands pilot with $10 million in new federal/provincial funding

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

A technology that is expected to improve the economics and environmental footprint of oilsands operations by using radio waves to mobilize bitumen has received $10 million in combined funding from Ottawa and the Province of Alberta.

It’s by far the largest investment in a joint federal-provincial announcement on Friday, where 11 Canadian companies were allocated a total of $28.8 million.

“By providing a single window to access resources, Alberta and Canada are leveraging funds to stimulate investment and advance GHG-reducing technologies,” Steve MacDonald, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta, said in a statement.

Acceleware, which reported successful completion a 1/20 scale field test of its RF XL technology earlier this year, says it will now proceed with field testing on a commercial scale.

“RF XL efficiently mobilizes heavy oil and bitumen by using radio waves to heat the water already present in the reservoir,” the company says.

“[It] requires no chemicals or solvents, no external water, utilizes a smaller surface footprint, and can reduce GHG emissions by 50 to 100 percent compared to SAGD.”

Acceleware also estimates that RF XL has the potential to reduce capital costs by as much as 70 percent and operating costs by up to 40 percent when compared to SAGD.

“If successful, RF XL will allow Alberta oil to compete even in today’s low oil price environment, as it is commercially viable one well at a time allowing both large and small operators to explore new deposits, and produce them profitably and cleanly,” the company says.

The commercial-scale test will utilize electronics developed in partnership with GE.

“It is technologies like this that pave the way for cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.,” MacDonald said.

Also receiving funding on Friday were:

  • PurLucid Treatment Solutions, Inc. to develop a new process to cool steam created during oil production, reducing energy demand and lowering costs;
  • Mariner Partners Inc. to develop software to improve energy efficiency in smart buildings;
  • Calscan Solutions to develop new control systems to eliminate methane emissions from pneumatic equipment;
  • Agar Corporation, Ltd. to develop new systems for water treatment in oil extraction operations;
  • waterStrider Treatment Inc. to develop a new process to treat water recovered during oil and gas production;
  • Saltworks Technologies Inc. to build a water desalination plant to eliminate the freshwater needed for oil production;
  • Forward Water Technologies to develop a new water treatment process to lower costs and reduce the need for wastewater disposal during oil production;
  • Ground Effects Environmental Services Inc. to develop a new process to reuse water in oilfield operations and reduce the demand for freshwater;
  • Fossil Water Corporation to adapt water treatment processes to reduce costs associated with the transport and disposal of wastewater produced during oil production; and
  • SewerVUE Technology Corp. to develop new technologies to detect failing asbestos cement pipes.