SELEX-Asp: Allowing Alberta to Control its Destiny

In our previous volumes, we explored how we could rethink the way pipeline capacity and refinery feedstock issues are approached. It was clear that if Alberta is to remain competitive in the oil industry, it is not sufficient to continue operating at status quo while presuming sending raw bitumen down the pipeline is effective.

To recap on earlier discussions, access the articles below:

The Race to Limit the Usage of Diluent

Diluent currently occupies close to one-third of the pipeline capacity required to move raw bitumen to market. It is also often purchased at a premium at the blending site compared to its sale price at the export destination. With both factors in mind, there is tremendous incentive for oil sands companies to curb the usage of diluent altogether. In doing so, economic benefits can be realized by:

  • Increasing effective bitumen carrying capacity in existing pipelines by a proportion equal to the decrease in diluent volume

  • Mitigating the pipeline tolls incurred on transportation of unnecessary diluent

  • Mitigating the discounts on diluent resale taken at the export destination compared to its purchase price at the blending site

There is currently a gold rush taking place in Alberta to solve this diluent problem. As it currently stands, many oil sands companies are spending large amounts of capital to develop processes that fall under a technological umbrella called ‘partial upgrading’.

Solving the Diluent Problem Head-on

Well Resources Inc. has taken a unique approach to tackle the diluent problem. We have adopted a bottom-up approach by capitalizing on more than two decades of characterizing and understanding bitumen chemistry. In doing so, our flagship process Selective Extraction of Asphaltenes (SELEX-Asp) was developed, which is uniquely capable of cleanly removing asphaltenes from heavy oil fractions. Asphaltenes are the heaviest components of bitumen, which drastically decrease the flow properties of crude and cause operational issues downstream.

Through our innovative process, we are able to remove asphaltenes as solid granules from heavy feedstock. By subjecting bitumen to the SELEX-Asp process prior to pipeline transport, not only can oil sands companies capitalize on the benefits of decreased diluent usage, but it also frees-up additional pipeline capacity as asphaltenes no longer need to be transported.

SELEX-Asp: The Commercially Proven Solution

Well Resources Inc.'s research and commercial experience has shown that, with asphaltenes effectively removed, the balance of bitumen can be subjected to conventional refinery processes previously thought to exclusively service light and medium grade feedstock. That is, SELEX-Asp processed bitumen can be used in virtually any refinery, worldwide, without the need for highly capital intensive equipment such as cokers.

Source: Chung K H, et al., Selective Asphaltene Removal from Heavy Oil, PTQ, 2006, Q4.

SELEX-Asp is patented, energy efficient, safe, and cost effective. It is technologically viable, has been tested on crudes from around the world, and most notably, the process is already commercially proven with nearly 40Mbopd of globally installed flowing capacity. While alternative technologies in the partial upgrading space are still at the bench or pilot scale, Well Resources Inc. is proud to offer the commercial solution to Alberta’s oil sands dilemma, today.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today at

What is
Take Control?

Take Control is Well's insight series that addresses subjects relevant to civil society, governments, and industry. The discussions focus on rethinking the way we approach difficult issues and providing transformative solutions as they all relate to the topic of effective resource utilization.

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