Ivanhoe Energy Inc.'s proprietary HTL upgrading technology is designed to cost effectively process heavy oil in the field and produce a stable upgraded synthetic oil that meets pipeline requirements. Upgrading by-products are converted on-site to steam for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In developed markets, HTL improves the economics of heavy oil production by reducing or eliminating the need for natural gas and diluent, and by capturing the majority of the heavy to light oil price differential. In remote areas, where natural gas and diluent are not available, integrated HTL production frees otherwise stranded resources. HTL accomplishes all of this at a much smaller scale, at lower per barrel capital costs, and with less impact on the environment compared with conventional technologies.
After years of piloting, development and commercial demonstration, HTL upgrading is in the process of commercial implementation. Integrated HTL/thermal EOR projects are progressing in Canada and Ecuador, illustrating applications in developed and undeveloped markets, respectively. This paper provides a description of the HTL upgrading process, with a particular focus on energy integration with upstream operations.