Barrufet receives research award for heavy crude oil transport

Maria Barrufet, professor, assistant department head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and the Baker Hughes Endowed Chair, has been awarded $50,000 as part of a one-year contract for the research proposal "Value Chain Analysis of Heavy Oil from Wellhead to the Refinery."Dr. Maria BarrufetHeavy or extra heavy crude oils cannot be transported by pipeline without a prior reduction of their viscosity. This is commonly obtained by blending the oil with light hydrocarbons. Currently most operators dilute bitumen and heavy oil at the wellsite using these solvents which are piped in from an upgrading facility or from an adjacent conventional oilfield; this diluted product is then transported (ship, train, truck, and pipeline) to market (either an upgrader or a refinery).The research project headed by Barrufet will study the entire value chain (value analysis and a market analysis) of the heavy oil from when it is produced at the well to when it is delivered to the refinery. The objectives of this TEES research project are to understand and estimate the value of upgrading heavy oil at the wellsite versus the common practice of transporting diluents to the wellsite from centralized facilities located a large distance from the field.