Two companies have teamed up to provide water treatment and de-oiling options for Canada’s oil sands.

GE, Trevose, Pa., and FilterBoxx Water & Environmental Corp., in Calgary, Canada, have signed an agreement to develop efficient ways to recover heavy oil from the Canadian oil sands regions. The companies will work together on heavy oil produced-water treatment projects using in-situ thermal methods such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

Approximately 80 percent of the oil sands in Alberta cannot be open-pit mined because the bitumen is buried too deep below the surface and therefore must be recovered via in-place, or in situ, methods. In situ processes use thermal energy, steam or solvents to make bitumen flow so that it can be pumped by a well to the surface.

There are an estimated 98 billion barrels of bitumen recoverable by in situ technologies in the Athabasca region of Alberta alone. Conventional de-oiling and produced-water treatment technologies require approximately 0.3 to 0.4 bbls of make-up water for each barrel of bitumen produced. FilterBoxx’s de-oiling and GE’s produced-water evaporation technologies achieve high recoveries of the produced water, resulting in 30 percent to 50 percent less make-up water required for the SAGD process, depending on reservoir losses and other technical limitations.

According to Kevin Slough, FilterBoxx’s CEO, by coupling his firm’s technology for de-oiling at high temperatures with GE’s evaporator technology, the result is an end-to-end produced-water treatment system.