How It Works: Heavy Oil

Heavy Oil is an up and coming energy resource that is aggressively being sought out as the world's energy demand increases. As technology continues to improve, this once costly energy source is quickly becoming a more viable alternative. This section focuses solely on Heavy Oil, what it is, where it's found, and the technologies that make it acquisition possible.

Madagascar: Heavy Oil Promises a Bright Future for this Island Country
Soon, the world’s fourth-largest island may be known more for heavy oil than it is known for the ring-tailed lemur. Experts estimate that half of the island is covered by the heavy oil-rich sedimentary basins of Morondava, Majunga and Ambilobe.
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Heavy Oil Articles

Heavy Oil Recovery - The Road Ahead
When analysts try to estimate the world’s remaining oil reserves, one of the largest variables is heavy oil. The question is not how much is in the ground, but how much of it can be recovered. For Canada’s heavy oil operators - those who could make Canada the world’s fifth-largest producer by 2015 - the answer depends on the efficiency of their recovery plans. If heavy oil is in your portfolio, here are some points to consider.
Heavy Oil:  Catching the Wild Beast
Getty's formula has worked for American oil enthusiasts, yet oil is becoming increasingly difficult to find -- let alone recover. Among other concerns, peak oil theories and geopolitical agitations in OPEC nations have left operators scrambling to find inexpensive, more efficient methods of recovering nonconventional hydrocarbons, like heavy oil, that will satisfy the world’s demand for petroleum into the next century.
Flow Control in Heavy Oil
A great number of heavy oil wells rely on horizontal completions and are thus prone to the flow control challenges inherent to this type of completion such as the "heel-to-toe" effect from friction loss along the wellbore, as well as pressure, fluid mobility and permeability contrasts in the producing section. There is a natural tendency to have much higher production at the heel (near the vertical part of well) than the toe (at the end of the well).
Heavier Crude Feedstocks:  Gaining Respect
Long regarded as virtual pariahs among crude oil feedstocks, heavier slates of crude are increasingly proving their worth at oil processing facilities worldwide. Cheaper to buy but costlier to refine, heavy oils have often taken the proverbial back seat to more expensive but easier-to-process light- and medium-gravity crudes. Now, heavier crudes are getting their due.
China
China has one of the world's most voracious appetites for oil. Its rapidly growing demand is so strong, in fact, that it has pushed the country to develop all the limited oil resources it has available--even heavy oil reserves in hard-to-reach locations.
Heating up the Job Market
Whether or not conventional oil has a "peak," the world’s heavy oil reserves have only just been tapped. In fact, some experts estimate that heavy oil represents more than half of the globe’s known reserves - and those are just the known resources. Many heavy oil deposits remain unexplored.
Unconventional Oil Update 2008 - Heavy Oil and Tars Sands Potential

This article in the four part series discusses the increased activity in heavy oil and tars sands with increased oil prices © Hart Energy Publishing, LP.

China:  Far East Measures In As Heavy Oil Hotspot
After spending considerable time investing in Canadian and Venezuelan heavy oil ventures, China is looking to its own oil fields as a next source of production. To date, heavy oil has been discovered in 70 oil fields throughout 12 basins. All of these sources have remained largely unexploited.
Husky Steams Ahead with Tucker Project
Husky Energy, a fixture in Canada’s oil and gas industry for 60 yrs with extensive experience in heavy oil production, recently completed construction of its first-ever oil sands project.
Venezuela
Home to the world's largest single accumulation of heavy and extra-heavy oil, Venezuela boasts an estimated 1.2 trillion barrels of oil in place. Approximately 270 billion of those barrels could be recovered and produced from the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt.
Why Heavy Oil
Because the challenging, yet almost entirely untapped, deposits of heavy oil hold some of the largest reserves of hydrocarbons in the world. According to Bill Bush of the API, "Heavy oils, oil sands, and potentially shale, could contribute substantially to future U.S. and world oil supplies."
Heavy Oil Production
Because heavy oil is so viscous, conventional methods, such as vertical wells, pumps, and pressure maintenance, are inefficient at extracting the oil. So, new technologies are being used to recover heavy oil including: cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS), vapor extraction (VAPEX), and thermal in situ methods.
Heavy Oil Fluid Characterization
Success with heavy oil depends as much on understanding the fluid properties of the reservoir as it does on knowing the geology of the reservoir itself. The reason is that the chemical differences between heavy oil and conventional oil ultimately affect their viscosity.
Where is Heavy Oil
Heavy oils are found around the world, with an estimated 69 percent of the world's technically recoverable heavy oil and 82 percent of the technically recoverable natural bitumen located in the Western Hemisphere.
Russia
For decades, Russia has been a major player on the global energy scene. At times, the vast country has even bested Saudi Arabia as the world's top oil producer. Throughout history, the country has relied on its largely mature supply of conventional oil.
Alberta
Used in previous centuries for various tasks, the bitumen found in Alberta's Athabasca Oil Sands may serve another purpose: securing Canada's role as an important oil producer with nearly 500 billion barrels of potential oil.
Heavy Oil
Heavy oil is thick crude oil that is viscous and has a low API gravity, making it difficult to produce using conventional methods.
Heavy Oil Planning
Until recently, many producers thought commercial quantities of heavy oil were unique to a handful of large fields in Canada, Venezuela and the United States. Now that market conditions have changed, prospects are quickly opening up around the world.
Brazil
Brazil is set to achieve energy self-sufficiency this year, thanks in large part to its production of heavy oil. Most of its crude oil production is offshore in the Campos, Espírito Santo, and Santos basins in deep and ultra-deep waters.

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Heavy Oil Stats
Heavy Oil Reserves by Region
  Heavy Oil Bitumen
North America 35.3 530.9
South America 265.7 0.1
Africa 7.2 43
Middle East 78.2 0.0
Asia 29.6 42.8
Russia 13.4 33.7
Western Hemi 301 531
Eastern Hemi 128.4 119.5
Worldwide 429.4 650.5
source: U.S. Geological Survey
Heavy Oil Releated Job Opportunities
Assistant Operator
Sarnia | Posted on April 14, 2017
3rd Class Operating Engineer
Sarnia | Posted on April 14, 2017
Senior Tax Advisor
Manila | Posted on March 28, 2017
Project Engineer (Intermediate)
Calgary | Posted on April 12, 2017
Staff Wells Supervisor
Calgary | Posted on April 14, 2017
Field Production Maintenance Operator (PMO)
Pincher Creek | Posted on April 14, 2017
Terminal Operator
Ottawa | Posted on April 14, 2017
Find more Heavy Oil jobs in the downstream sector at
Recent Headlines on Heavy Oil
Suncor Evaluates Potential Oil-sand Deals as Global Majors Exit
Thursday, April 27, 2017 - Canada :: Canada's largest energy producer is still evaluating opportunities for oil sands acquisitions in northern Alberta as foreign oil majors exit the high-cost region, Chief Executive Steve Williams said on Thursday.
Cenovus Energy Posts Smaller-Than-Expected Quarterly Loss
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - Canada :: Cenovus Energy reports a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss as operating costs fell, while oil sands production rose.
Oil-Sands Operators Bet on Local Advantage as US Partners Flee
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - Canada :: Now that multinational energy producers have sold their stakes in Canada's oil sands, local companies are hatching plans to make some real changes.
Sources: Chevron Exploring Sale Of Canada Oil Sands Stake Worth About $2.5B
Thursday, April 13, 2017 - Canada :: Chevron is exploring the sale of its 20% stake in Canada's Athabasca Oil Sands project, which could fetch about $2.5 billion, according to people familiar with the situation.
Syncrude Outage Limits ConocoPhillips Oil Sands Production
Tuesday, April 04, 2017 - Canada :: A shutdown at the Syncrude oil sands facility in northern Alberta has curbed output from ConocoPhillips' Surmont plant, the US company says.