Microwaving oil sands SAGD reservoirs advances to 10,000 b/d test project with Prosper Energy

RF XL uses no water or solvent, small physical footprint, can be adapted to many reservoir types, expected to reduce or eliminate GHGs

New technology like Acceleware’s RF XL radio frequency heater be key to Alberta’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands. The Calgary-based company has partnered with Prosper Petroleum on a commercial-scale test on SAGD production that is partly funded by $10 million from federal and provincial agencies. Prosper’s CEO said RF XL “could be a game-changer.”

“Testing the technology at Rigel is strategic for Prosper (10,000 b/d project expected to be approved this year) 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 bbl/day of production with far lower costs and environmental impact,” Brad Gardiner said in a press release.

Graphic: Prosper Energy.

“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 (steam-assisted gravity drainage) facility within the existing footprint.”

RF XL efficiently mobilizes heavy oil and bitumen by using radio waves to heat the water already present in the reservoir. RF XL requires no chemicals or solvents, no external water, utilizes a smaller surface footprint, and can reduce GHG emissions by 50-100 per cent, compared to SAGD.

Prosper will provide the test project with access to specific Rigel leases (located 100 kms northwest of Fort McMurray), 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.

“Given how critical and pressing economic and environmental factors have become to the ongoing development of Canadian oil sands and heavy oil, partnering with a company that offers experience and agility combined with a resource that can demonstrate the massive potential reach of the RF XL innovation is key to us. Prosper brings all of these and an impeccable reputation in a wide range of heavy oil and oil sands environments,” said Geoff Clark, CEO of Acceleware.

“We are very excited to move forward with them on this project.”

Sustainable Development Technology Canada and Emissions Reduction Alberta have committed up to $10 million in non-repayable funding for the test. With the support of Prosper, Acceleware says it will begin raising remaining capital to further support the test.

“Producers have been looking to harness RF energy as a means to mobilize oil sands and heavy oil reservoirs for more than 50 years,” said Mike Tourigny, Acceleware’s VP commercialization RF heating.

“We believe we are on the verge of realizing the full potential of this technology once it is successfully deployed at Rigel.”


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