(639b) Supercritical Water Process to Upgrade Heavy Oil

Authors: 
Choi, K. H., Saudi Aramco
Abdulhadi, A., Saudi Aramco
Jishi, A., Saudi Aramco
Punetha, A. K., Saudi Aramco
Shafei, E., Saudi Aramco
Lee, J. H., Saudi Aramco
Garhoush, M., Saudi Aramco
Alshareef, A. H., Saudi Aramco
Al-Mulla, F., Saudi Aramco
Albahar, M., Saudi Aramco
Al-Otaibi, B., Saudi Aramco
Qarzouh, M., Saudi Aramco
Al-Dossary, M., Saudi Aramco



Supercritical water, as an environmentally friendly solvent, found potentially a new application area: heavy oil upgrading. Although water is a very common species in exploration and production of petroleum, direct usage in upgrading of heavy oil has not been applied industrially. Basic chemistry governing upgrading reaction under supercritical water is believed to resemble that of conventional thermal cracking such as visbreaking and coking. However, presence of supercritical water has capability to organize random radical reactions to suppress coking and gas generation. Major huddles to the scale-up of such a novel process are high energy cost required to heat-up large quantities of water, heavy-duty equipment to handle harsh operation conditions, and plugging of process lines by coke or sludge. These technical challenges can be resolved based on the fundamental understanding of the process reactions and fluids. This paper will present the recent advances in supercritical water technology for heavy oil upgrading as well as the proper approach to facilitate its industrial application.