- Non-conventional oil
Non-conventional oil is oil produced or extracted using techniques other than the traditional
oil wellmethod. Currently, non-conventional oil production is less efficient and some types have a larger environmental impact relative to conventional oil production. Non-conventional types of production include: tar sands, heavy oil, oil shale, biofuels, thermal depolymerization(TDP) of organic matter, and the conversion of coalor natural gasto liquid hydrocarbonsthrough processes such as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. These non-conventional sources of oil may be increasingly relied upon as petro motor fuel for transportation when conventional oil becomes "economically non-viable" due to depletion. Conventional sources of oil are currently preferred because they provide a much higher ratio of extracted energy over energy used in extraction and refining processes. Technology, such as using steam injection in tar sands deposits, is being developed to increase the efficiency of non-conventional oil production.
Extra heavy oil and tar sands
Extra heavy oils are extremely viscous, with a consistency ranging from that of heavy
molassesto a solid at room temperature. Heavy crude oils have a density (specific gravity) approaching or even exceeding that of water. As a result, they cannot be produced, transported, and refined by conventional methods. Heavy crude oils usually contain high concentrations of sulfur and several metals, particularly nickel and vanadium. These properties make them difficult to pump out of the ground or through a pipeline and interfere with refining. These properties also present serious environmental challenges to the growth of heavy oil production and use. Venezuela's Orinoco heavy oil belt is the best known example of this kind of unconventional reserve. Estimated reserves: convert|1.2|Toilbbl|km3. [cite web |url=http://www.battelle.org/Environment/publications/envupdates/Fall2003/article9.stm
title=Environmental Challenges of Heavy Crude Oils
Heavy oils and
tar sands(aka oil sands) occur world-wide, but the two most important deposits are the Athabasca Tar Sandsin Alberta, Canadaand the Orinocoextra heavy oil deposit in Venezuela. The hydrocarbon content of these deposits is called bitumen, on which the fuel Orimulsionis based. The Venezuelan extra heavy oil deposits differs from tar sands in that they flow more readily at ambient temperature and could be produced by cold-flow techniques, but the recovery rates would be less than the Canadian techniques (about 8% versus up to 90% for surface miningand 60% for steam assisted gravity drainage).
It is estimated by oil companies that the Athabasca and Orinoco sites (both of similar size) have as much as two-thirds of total global oil deposits. However, they have only recently been considered proven reserves of oil as cost to extract the oil declined to less than $15 per barrel at the
Suncorand Syncrudemines while world oil prices rose to over $140 during the oil price increases since 2003.
Extracting a significant percentage of world oil production from these
fossil fuels will be difficult since the extraction process takes a great deal of capital, manpower and land. Another major constraint is energy for heatand electricity generation, currently coming from natural gas, itself in short supply. A bitumen upgrader is under construction at Fort McMurray, Alberta to supply syngasto replace natural gas, and there are even proposals to build nuclear reactorsusing fuel from nearby Uranium City, Saskatchewanto supply steam and electricity.
At rate of production projected for 2015, about convert|3|Moilbbl/d|m3/d, the Athabasca oil sands reserves would last over 400 years. [cite web| url=http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/OilSands/954.asp#Facts| month=June | year=2006| title=Oil Sands Fact Sheets| first=Alberta| last=Department of Energy| accessdate=2007-04-11] The oil extraction process requires either strip mining or in-situ processing, steam and caustic soda (NaOH). The process is more energy intensive than conventional oil and thus more expensive.
Oil shale is a general term applied to a group of fine black to dark brown
shales rich enough in organic material (called kerogen) to yield petroleumand combustible gas upon distillation. The kerogen in oil shale can be converted to oil through the chemical process of pyrolysis. During pyrolysis the oil shale is heated to 450–500 °C in the absence of air and the kerogen is converted to oil and separated out, a process called "retorting". Oil shale has also been burnt directly as a low-grade fuel. Oil Shale requires extensive processing, consumes large amounts of water and energy. An operation producing convert|100000|oilbbl/d|m3/d requires approximately 1.2 gigawatts of dedicated electric generating capacity to heat the oil shale.
United States Office of Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reservesestimates the world supply of oil shale at 1662 billion barrels (264 billion m³) of which 1200 billion barrels (191 billion m³) is in the United States[http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/conf/pdf/dammer.pdf] .
Most of the U.S. oil shale deposits are located in the
Green River Formation( Green Riverand Washakiebasins, Wyoming; Uintabasin, Utah; Piceance Creek basin, Colorado). Estonia, Russia, Brazil, Australiaand Chinacurrently mine oil shale, however production is declining due to economic and environmental factors.
If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of the current convert|20|Moilbbl/d|m3/d demand, convert|800|Goilbbl|m3 of recoverable resources would last for more than 400 years. [cite web
title=Oil Shale Development in the United States
However, attempts to develop these reserves have been going on for over 100 years with limited success. [cite web
title=Oil Shale Development Imminent
publisher= R-Squared Energy Blog
Biofuelssuch as biodiesel, ethanol, and straight vegetable oilare also hydrocarbonfuels. There are non-hydrocarbon biofuelsas well such as anaerobic hydrogen producers.
Thermal depolymerization(TDP) has the potential to recover a lot of energy from existing sources of waste such as petroleum cokeas well as pre-existing waste deposits. Because energy output varies greatly based on feedstock, it is difficult to estimate potential energy production.
Coal and gas conversion
The conversion of coal and natural gas has the potential to yield great quantities of non-conventional oil albeit at much lower net energy output. Because of the high cost of transporting natural gas, many known but remote fields are not being developed. Conversion can make this energy available even under present market conditions.
Karrick processis a low temperature carbonization (LTC) of coal, shale, ligniteor any carbonaceous materials. These are heated at 360 °C to 750 °C (680 °F to 1380 °F) in the absence of air to distill out oil and gas. Production works out at about $35 per barrel.
Fischer-Tropsch processoperates on similar principle to the Karrick process, but is less efficient for coal gasification because more of the energy content of the coal is lost. For producing liquid fuel from natural gas, the Fischer-Tropsch process is currently an area of significant process research by most major oil companies. [cite web|url=http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/8129/8129catalysis2.html|title=Chemical & Engineering News: Catalyzing GTL]
Future energy development
Synthetic Liquid Fuels Program
World energy resources and consumption
* [http://trendlines.ca/freddyhutterscenario2500.htm TrendLines Research] Chart representation of non-conventional components production profile until 2500 AD.
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