Recognizing the importance of finding efficient and economical ways to recover heavy oil from the oil sands regions, GE and Calgary-based FilterBoxx Water & Environmental Corp. have teamed up to develop water treatment solutions.

GE and FilterBoxx recently signed an agreement to develop integrated de-oiling and water treatment options for Alberta’s oil sands. Specifically, the two companies will work together on heavy oil produced water treatment projects using in-situ thermal methods such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

Approximately 80 per cent of the oil sands in Alberta cannot be open-pit mined because the bitumen is buried too deep below the surface and therefore must be recovered via in-situ methods. In-situ processes use thermal energy, steam or solvents to make bitumen flow so that it can be pumped by a well to the surface.

There are an estimated 98 billion barrels (bbl) of bitumen recoverable by in-situ technologies in the Athabasca region of Alberta alone. Conventional de-oiling and produced water treatment technologies require approximately 0.3 to 0.4 bbls of make-up water for each barrel of bitumen produced. FilterBoxx’s de-oiling and GE’s patented produced water evaporation technologies achieve significantly higher recoveries of the produced water, resulting in 30 to 50 per cent less make-up water required for the SAGD process, depending on reservoir losses and other technical limitations.

“FilterBoxx is very excited to be teaming with GE to offer a complete package to treat produced water from thermal heavy oil operations. FilterBoxx technology allows for de-oiling at high temperatures, which makes it a perfect match with GE’s evaporator technology to provide an end-to-end produced water treatment system,” said Kevin Slough, CEO of FilterBoxx.

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