Heavy Oil Solutions and Cenovus plan to test a process to upgrade bitumen to lighter oil at Cenovus’s Christina Lake oil sands project, potentially eliminating the need to blend the bitumen with diluent to make it flow through a pipeline.

The process has potential to reduce costs, shrink Cenovus’s environmental footprint and free up much-needed pipeline capacity. Through a single-step operation, using water that is produced alongside the oil, the process is designed to return crude oil that is effectively pipeline ready and water that can be reused in the crude oil production cycle without extensive treatment. Originally developed for the remediation of nuclear waste, the technology holds potential for simplifying and integrating all surface operations at the well pad.