Bitumen monetization using a novel processing sequence
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This invention monetizes bitumen reserves utilizing proven refining processes to ultimately produce, primarily, high quality refined oil products. At the same time, a unique operating sequence and mode of operation produces precursors, the primary building blocks, for the petrochemical, fertilizer and energy co-products markets. Essentially, in producing refined oil products, the feedstock requirements of associated industries are satisfied in such a manner that the integration of these entities produces a higher rate of return for the combined entity than the sum of each of the individual entities. Furthermore, the process is tailored with broad functionality as to be able to “dial for profit” dependent upon the agreed upon business for the integrated facility specific to a certain geographical area.

A further and important inclusion is the use of processes to attain zero emissions of environmental deleterious substances i.e. a profitable use for all co-products during processing.

Rhodey, William George (Calgary, CA)
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International Classes:
C10G1/00; C10G2/00; C10G11/00; C10G21/00; C10G29/20; C10G45/00; C10G45/58; C10G47/00; C10G67/00; C10G69/00; C10J3/00; (IPC1-7): C10G1/00
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William George Rhodey (Calgary, AB, CA)

I claim:

1. A method to produce simultaneously refined oil, petrochemicals, and energy co-products from Bitumen.

2. A method for a zero emissions Bitumen process.

3. A method for monetizing bitumen reserves by maximizing dollars from the process involving cracking margin, co-product optimization and co-operative business venture.

4. A business venture to maximize value for the geographic location of the Bitumen reserves.



[0001] This invention relates to a new concept to monetize bitumen reserves using refinery processes in a unique operating sequence and mode tailored to maximize the value and the number of and access to product markets.


[0002] As light crude oil supplies decline there will be increasing requirements to capitalise on the world's bitumen reserves located largely in Canada, Venezuela and the former Soviet Union. Current bitumen/heavy crude oil production is limited, principally by four factors, namely, market demand, supply of diluent to make the bitumen transportable, pipeline transportation capacity and intensive capital requirements to either create additional demand by upgrading bitumen either in the field or receiving refineries and/or provide additional transportation capacity to receiving refineries.

[0003] There are two traditional approaches to removing these limitations. The first is to secure the supply of diluent to blend with the bitumen to increase pipeline transportation capacity and add upgrading capacity at receiving refineries. The second approach is to mine the bitumen and upgrade it to a lighter synthetic crude oil in the field and transport the resulting synthetic oil or selected components to receiving refineries capable of managing the quality differences with naturally occurring lighter crude oils traditionally processed at these refineries. Both of these approaches leave the smaller independent heavy crude oil producers vulnerable to the larger integrated producers that have stronger access to diluent, markets, transportation, upgrading technology and capital.

[0004] Presently, bitumen is processed to produce upgraded crude commonly called synthetic crude. This synthetic crude is further processed into predominately refined oil products or chemicals precursors at refineries or petrochemical facilities.

[0005] At these upgrader facilities such as Syncrude and Suncor in Canada and PDVSA in Venezuela, co-products such as sand, coke and sulphur are stored until an economic market is available. Consequently, large piles of coke and by product sulphur are found in these locations. As well as huge ponds of hard to settle sand fines are located at these facilities.

[0006] A component of the facilities, the fuel gas system contains some petrochemical and fertilizer components that are burned as fuel rather than produced for market. In some instances, portions of these materials are recovered as a liquid stream, presently propane and heavier material, (C3+). However, these amounts are small by products rather than defined and planned production of very significant portion of the production as petrochemicals and fertilizer precursors. The objective of the existing upgraders is to maximize liquid oil production thereby minimizing gas formation as well as by products. Feedstock for these upgrades is a very heavy bitumen or oilsands, containing besides oil:

[0007] Sand

[0008] Aluminium

[0009] Metals vanadium, nickel, and precious metals

[0010] Water as the oil is in emulsion form

[0011] Sulphur

[0012] Sand


[0013] This invention is a unique application of several conventional state of the art proven process technologies in a unique sequence to produce a broad slate of products from oil sand (bitumen) feedstock. The combination of processes will produce ethylene, propylene, other petrochemicals, fertilizer (urea plus potassium sulphate), cement and aggregates, electricity, gasoline, distillate transportation fuel and heavy crude diluent. The project is unique in that it provides a broad range of co-product capability to respond to market fluctuations. Additionally, it allows the pooling of diverse interests to benefit from the various synergies, and allows participants to minimize their investment and spread the risk over a wider spectrum than each could individually.


[0014] This invention includes the definitive plan to produce the following major co-products from bitumen:

[0015] Refined oil products

[0016] Ethylene

[0017] Propylene

[0018] Fertilizer precursors

[0019] Diluent

[0020] Cement and aggregate precursors

[0021] This invention produces significant quantities of the various co-products not a by-product mode of operation. Each of the co-products is manufactured at a world scale production rate.

[0022] These co-products are all produced from Bitumen. Bitumen is a unique heavy crude having the following properties: 1

Sulphurweight %7
Heavy Metalsweight %3000
V, Fe, Ni
Finesweight %0.2
Nitrogenweight %1.5
Hydrogenweight %911
Carbonweight %8185
Ashweight %0.5

[0023] Presently bitumen deposits are located in Alberta-Canada, Venezuela, Former Soviet Union, USA and Latin America. This invention applies to these locations as well as new locations to be explored in the future and meeting the properties above.

[0024] This invention moves toward the ultimate “Zero Emissions” concept in that no by-products are stored for future use. All liquid, solid and gaseous products produced as a result of this invention are fully utilized for current market consumption. “So called “global warming gases” including: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide are available for use in enhanced oil recovery processes as miscible flooding inputs. Other components such as nitrogen are also available for flooding activities or commercial applications. This invention achieves the zero emission targets by utilizing all process product and intermediate streams.

[0025] This invention provides a method to monetize bitumen reserves using three strategies:

[0026] Maximizing cracking margin

[0027] Co-product optimization

[0028] Co-operatives business venture

[0029] Bitumen is refined to refined oil products, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. The increased value from the crude price to refined oil products is known as cracking margin. This invention takes this approach to bitumen at one location. In addition co-product production of:

[0030] Ethylene

[0031] Propylene

[0032] Fertilizer pre-cursors

[0033] Diluent,

[0034] Cement and Aggregate precursors

[0035] is a significant portion of the product mix. At the same time, the utility requirements including:

[0036] Steam

[0037] Electrical power

[0038] Hydrogen

[0039] Steam

[0040] Nitrogen

[0041] are produced to satisfy the process and external market needs.

[0042] The economic driver for the complex is to maximize the added value to Bitumen by producing all the products. As the market place shifts to favour the production of a particular co-product, the operation is changed to accomplish this objective.

[0043] This invention provides a method for several competitive business entities to co-operate as a business venture. This co-operation is an interdependency of corporate strategies to secure, purchase and process bitumen feedstock. This co-operation is inherent as each of the business entities meets the overall strategy via co-operation. The business venture is composed of the following:

[0044] bitumen producers

[0045] co-product purchasers

[0046] refined oil product marketers

[0047] service and utility suppliers

[0048] The producers require a secure market for their bitumen. At the same time, the producers desire an economic return on the bitumen. The business venture requires a secure source of feedstock from the suppliers and gives a value of refined oil products for the bitumen producers and a share in the co-product revenue for the bitumen.

[0049] The co-product producers require a secure feedstock for the long term as well as a source of low priced feedstock. The business venture provides a secure feedstock supply given by the producers at a value that is one of the lowest valued feedstocks in the world, bitumen that competes price-wise with coal. The co-product producers purchase the precursors for their business at market price but share in the corporate buyers value added business.

[0050] The refined oil product marketers require increasingly high quality products for the North American market place at competitive wholesale pricing. The marketers require access to the markets via transportation modes. The co-operative business venture provides significant supply 2% of the USA marketplace at competitive pricing and provides the transportation pipeline to access the USA market place. The refined oil product marketers add the retail margin to the business whilst paying competitive pricing for the transportation/access to the marketplace.

[0051] The service and utility suppliers require a secure market place for their services. The co-operative business venture supplies a secure market at competitive pricing and the service and utility suppliers share in the return on the services provided for any capital ventured.

[0052] Each of the participants provides such capital assets that can be utilized by the co-operative business venture to reduce the new capital required achieving the venture's business objectives.

[0053] This invention provides a method to maximize the value of bitumen reserves at the geographic location of the reserves. Rather than producing bitumen for sale at another location, the added value identified above is allocated to the location wherein the process is constructed. In these cases, the process is constructed near the reserve location so the added value remains in the same location. Participants with business interests in the reserve location are chosen to participate. Consequently, the value added is also retained by the business venture in the location of the reserves.

[0054] This creates a host of complimentary values for the geographic location including:

[0055] jobs

[0056] skilled jobs

[0057] taxes at all levels

[0058] royalties

[0059] service industries

[0060] infrastructure


[0061] Several process sequences can derive the benefits of this invention. The following sequence of proven process technologies is chosen to illustrate how the concept may be applied to give a detailed processing scheme for this invention. In reference to FIG. 1, Bitumen feed 1, is received as a diluted bitumen feedstock to the process and undergoes solids separation in the separator 2, removing cement intermediates for further processing by the cement co-product participant. Diluent is then recovered in the diluent recovery process unit 3, to return diluent to the producer participant in order that additional bitumen can be transported to the process. The bitumen undergoes crude distillation 4, either a vacuum distillation or a super critical distillation process that produces feed for the Fluid catalytic cracker 10, and/or feedstock for the Partial Oxidation process unit 5. Oxygen for this unit is supplied by a supplier participant that at the same time produces nitrogen required in the process maintenance group and the local miscible flood market. The partial oxidation gasifier product of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen can be processed into additional saturated hydrocarbons in the Fischer Tropse process unit 7, or utilized as feedstock for the fertilizer co-product participant or as hydrogen for treating crude or Fluid Cracking unit distillate products in the distillate unicracker process 8. Alternatively the petrochemical co-product participant can utilize the olefins from the gasifier including ethylene, propylene, and butenes. The gas stream from the partial oxidation unit is purified in the gas treater unit 6, to remove contaminants including sulphur and particulate material. The sulphur can be recovered as a liquid or solid or, alternatively can be recovered as a sulphate using the hot lime process. The co-product participant can use this material as feedstock to produce other fertilizer products.

[0062] Hydrocarbon produced by the Fischer Tropse process unit can be distilled in the distillation column 9, to produce feedstock for the Fluid Catalytic cracker unit 10, and/or blending components for gasoline manufacturing in the gasoline blending unit 13, or the fuel cell blending unit 15. The Fluid Catalytic cracker can be utilized to produce petrochemical precursor C2 to C5 molecules. Alternatively, the C4 and C5 components can be handled by the alkylation units 11, and 12, to produce gasoline in the gasoline blending unit 13.

[0063] The distillate unicracker unit 8, can be utilized to produce additional naphtha or treat the distillates to diesel and jet fuel in unit 14, that removes trace unsaturated components.

[0064] Naphtha from crude distillation unit 4, can be further treated in the Naphtha Hydrotreater 16, utilizing hydrogen from the gas treater 6. Purified naphtha can be distilled in the naphtha distillation unit 17 to recover C5/C6 and naphtha to feed the Naphtha reformer 18. The C5/C6 stream ex the naphtha distillation can be isomerized in the once through C5/C6 Isomerization unit 19. The isomer product C5/C6 can be blended into gasoline in the gasoline blending unit 13. The normal paraffin C5/C6 can be blended into fuel cell gasoline in the fuel cell blending unit 15. The naphtha reformer product produces light ends to the light ends treater 20, and reformate to be feed for the BTX Extraction process 21. BTX petrochemicals are recovered from unit 21 and fractionated into high purity petrochemical precursors for the co-product participant in the BTX Fractionation Unit 22. Non extracted material from the BTX extraction unit 22 is blended into gasoline in the gasoline blending unit 13. Some components of true BTX Fractionation unit 22 can be removed and blended into fuel cell gasoline in the fuel cell blending unit 15.

[0065] Surplus low quality fuel ex the gas treater can be burned in a co-generation unit to produce electricity and steam.

[0066] Each of the above process units are available from at least one supplier, some are available from several suppliers. The participants through optimization can set the parameters in the above process scheme to maximize revenue and increase the added value to the bitumen feedstock.

[0067] All these products can be produced to meet market demand and can be increased or reduced to follow market pricing.

[0068] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, bitumen is heavy crude having a density of 23° API or lower.

[0069] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the process technologies belong to the license owner. This invention does not claim invention rights to these technologies but rather the sequencing and operating mode only for these technologies.

[0070] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, bitumen is usually found as a mixture of oil and sand referred to as tarsands.

[0071] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, diluent is added to bitumen to lower its viscosity in order that the resulting mixture of bitumen and diluent can be pumped in a pipeline economically.

[0072] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the sequence and operating severity of the refinery processes form the processing basis for this invention.

[0073] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the products produced from the process are oil and gas products, composed of methane, ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, normal butane, iso butane, butadiene, butenes, normal pentane, iso pentane, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, residual fuel oil.

[0074] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the co products produced from the process are hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, electricity, cement components, aggregate components, potassium sulphate, ammonia, and urea.

[0075] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the process will be operated in such a manner to maximize the revenue generated from the products produced and meet product and co-product market requirements identified by the owners of the process from time to time.

[0076] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the process scheme will allow the individual owner to pool his interest with several other owners and spread the financial risk.

[0077] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the process scheme will allow the individual owners the ability to produce or sell products for their own consumption at very competitive costs.

[0078] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the process will allow the individual owners to minimize their investments.

[0079] In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, the process scheme provides individual owners with pooling of diverse intents.