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What is Partial Upgrading?

What is Partial Upgrading?

There are many different approaches to Partial Upgrading, but the goal is to reduce the amount of sulfur and heavier ends in crude oil, making it less toxic and corrosive, and providing a lighter oil for transport. Partial Upgrading is more cost effective than Full Upgrading, but it is not a commercial practice just yet.


“Partial upgrading is a relatively new technology where bitumen is upgraded to a point where diluent is no longer needed, in turn increasing pipeline capacity. The technology was recommended by the Alberta Royalty Review Advisory Panel as a way to increase revenues for the province.


About 40% of bitumen currently extracted from the oil sands is fully upgraded into light synthetic crude. The remaining 60% is diluted with a generous volume of condensate (as much as 30% by volume) and sold directly to market as heavy oil. Condensate is very expensive, typically trading close to West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices and takes up significant volume in the pipelines


Full upgraders have fallen out of favour in Alberta due to high capital costs and waning demand. Most of the refineries in the US are highly complex and designed to process heavy/sour crude. Rising production of light oil from US shale has also boosted the demand for heavy crude, required for blending purposes.1


Enter Expander Energy Inc., a private Alberta based technology company providing innovative solutions for the energy industry. Expander has engineered the patented FT Crude process to upgrade heavy oil and bitumen into a synthetic heavy crude which is able to be transported via pipeline without the requirements of a diluent blend. In addition, the Expander technology can convert the remaining bottom ends, or left-over bi-product from the upgrading process, into a more valuable synthetic diesel.


To learn more about Expander Energy:





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