Prosper/Acceleware To Immediately Commence RF Oilsands Field Test

Just one month after receiving regulatory approval for the Rigel SAGD project, the property will “immediately” become a field test site for radio frequency heating technology.

Acceleware Ltd. announced on Tuesday that it has entered into a commercial test agreement with Prosper Petroleum Ltd. after a “multi-faceted partner selection process in which several major, mid-size and smaller operator candidates were assessed.”

The field test also has support from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), which committed up to $10 million in non-repayable funding in November 2017.

Acceleware believes that its RF XL technology has the potential to save the industry billions by reducing both capital and operating costs, while offering major environmental benefits including reductions in GHG emissions and land use along with no requirement for external water or solvents. As an electrically driven process, Acceleware also believes that RF XL technology can provide a clear pathway to zero-GHG production of heavy oil and oilsands.

Prosper’s Rigel project is located about 100 kilometres northwest of Fort McMurray, in the same region as Suncor Energy Inc.’s MacKay River project, Sunshine Oilsands Ltd.’s West Ells project and PetroChina Canada’s MacKay River facility. Suncor’s Dover test site is also nearby, where the oilsands heavyweight and a consortium of companies have been testing another RF oilsands technology since 2015. Earlier this month Suncor applied for a five-year extension to that pilot test (DOB, Jul. 5, 2018).

Prosper received regulatory approval for Rigel in mid-June (DOB, Jun. 13, 2018). CEO Brad Gardiner said Prosper considers Acceleware’s RF XL technology a potential game changer.

"Testing the technology at Rigel is strategic for Prosper because a successful deployment would allow us to transition quickly to a broader commercial development at this site, and potentially help us achieve our goal of 40,000 bbls/day of production with far lower costs and environmental impact,” Gardiner said in a statement.

“Our planned cogeneration facility could provide power for RF XL systems, we could eliminate the need to source additional external water and we could leverage the existing water treatment capacity of the SAGD facility within the existing footprint."

Under the terms of the agreement, Prosper will provide Acceleware with access to specific Rigel leases, engineering and geological support and services, and assistance with obtaining regulatory approvals. In exchange, Acceleware will grant Prosper the right to purchase RF XL systems at a preferential rate for use on Prosper lands for a period of 20 years following the completion of the test.

Acceleware will also receive the proceeds from the sale of any bitumen produced during the test. Subsequent to the test, Acceleware and Prosper may elect to continue operation of the RF XL system to increase production from the well, sharing equally in the proceeds of the sale of the bitumen, once all of Acceleware's costs associated with the test, plus 10 per cent, have been recovered.

"Because of its expected economic and environmental benefits, producers have been looking to harness RF energy as a means to mobilize oilsands and heavy oil reservoirs for more than 50 years," Acceleware vice-president Mike Tourigny added. "We believe we are on the verge of realizing the full potential of this technology once it is successfully deployed at Rigel."

The test will build on Acceleware's 1/20th scale test through deployment of a commercial-scale (1,000 metre) prototype RF XL system at a depth of approximately 424 metres. Key operational aspects of the technology will be tested, including efficiency and oil production rates. The initial heating phase will run for six months using a two-megawatt prototype generator developed with Acceleware's partner, General Electric, using its proprietary Silicon Carbide technology. Upon the completion of the initial six-month heating phase, Acceleware and Prosper may elect to continue the RF XL test.