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MarketWatch: Venezuela looks to Shell’s ICP technology for the Orinoco

CARACAS (MarketWatch) — Venezuela is interested in deploying Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s (RDSA.LN) In-situ Conversion Process technology, or ICP, in the Orinoco river basin to help improve recovery rates at extra-heavy oil fields, said an official at state firm Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

“We’re interested in a technology that Shell has…that upgrades crude at the oil field,” Eulogio Del Pino, a director at PdVSA, said late Thursday.

Shell first began developing ICP technology, which inserts electric heaters in oil wells to improve flow rates and the quality of the oil before it reaches the surface, in the 1970s. Shell hopes to use the technology to unlock reserves of shale oil in Colorado, but says the technology can also be used in the Orinoco.

“This technology has a high recovery rate, of over 30%,” said Del Pino, adding that PdVSA executives have visited Shell’s ICP pilot projects in Canada and Colorado.

Del Pino, however, said ICP can only be used at certain reservoirs that have thick layers of sand to help contain the heat. The technology will not work in oil fields that are near aquifers, because “all the energy will be spent vaporizing the water,” said Del Pino.

“We’re deciding on the most appropriate block,” to test the technology, he said.
PdVSA has divided the undeveloped areas of the Orinoco into 27 blocks, eight of which it is currently exploring with foreign firms like Brazil’s Petrobras (PBR) and Russia’s Lukoil (LKOH.RS). Venezuela plans to book 235 billion barrels of new oil reserves at the Orinoco after completing a three-year exploration campaign.

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