Josef Levin

Head of Brack Capital Group’s operation in Russia

BCE Green Sands Ltd. 

BCE Green Sands Ltd. (“BCE”) is a Cyprus based Exploration & Production (“E&P”) company that was incorporated in 2005 to own and develop oil sands deposits around the world, specializing in solvent-based extraction of oil from oil-wet oil sands (OWOS) that are found in abundance around the world. 

BCE principal & founding shareholder is Brack Capital Group, a major international owner, developer and manager of real estate and infrastructure projects.

BCE is working with world-leading experts in the mining and oil sands disciplines, as well as with the top geological analysis laboratories worldwide.

BCE’s management, advisory team and principal shareholders are comprised of prominent business executives, engineers, geologists and scientists with extensive experience in oil sands development and related technologies projects. 

BCE has secured exploration and mining rights of Oil Sand deposits in selected locations globally — currently in Albania, China and Nigeria. In Kazakhstan the company has engaged in a JV agreement with a local company in order to develop a promising Oil Sand Field at the Caspian Sea.

The green sands

In his interview Mr. Josef Levin, Partner in BCE Green Sands and Head of Brack Capital Group’s operation in Russia, told RV on the new production technologies used to Extract Crude Oil from Oil Wet Oil Sands, on the cooperation with Russia in this field and gave his own oil price forecast.

Mr. Levin, which revolution will win: the slate or the bituminous one?

Today, new production techniques and technologies are successfully used to process oil and natural gas resources from oil-sand reserves that were either technically impossible or uneconomic to produce. This course of constant improvements of energy supply matrix is obviously important, but its production and cost effectiveness are yet facing challenges. On the other hand, the first commercially successful oil sands mining and upgrading facility was pioneered in Canada more than 45 years ago and; since then the industry gained substantial know-how, expertise and successful track record. Based on this experience, BCE has developed its innovative, patented, cost-effective and environmental-friendly extraction technology, tailored for extraction of oil from oil-wet oil sand deposits worldwide.

Most of our readers — as well as me — have very little knowledge of BCE Green Sand. For instance, the oil sands are not green in color, but “green” in the sense of the process being environmental friendly. Can you explain (to beginners): where is the oil here?

The first part of the company name — BCE — represents our mother group — Brack Capital, which focuses on development of large scale commercial real-estate properties, applying unique entrepreneur vision and practice. The second part — Green Sands — represents our vision to produce energy from natural resources in a manner that respects and preserves the resource environment-the population, natural life and growing. The “Green” represents the company values of combined innovation with environmental and social responsibility. I am proud that we are able to implement our values in the company business model and activities.

What is the difference between your technology and, for example, the Canadian one?

The world’s oil sands deposits are divided into two basic types: Water-Wet and Oil-Wet. In the Water-Wet Oil Sands the bitumen is separated from the silica sand grains by a film of water. In the Oil-Wet Oil Sand the bitumen is bonded directly to the sand with no water film present. The Water-Wet Oil Sands are successfully processed in large Canadian commercial plants using hot water process. However the current Canadian technology is not successful in processing oil from Oil-Wet Oil Sands. Although a number of process development studies of oil-wet sands extraction techniques were conducted during the last 45 years, none of the processes have been commercialized yet. So, BCE Green sands extraction technology is first and outstanding.

The company proven technology is based on a petroleum-based widely-used solvent, and is energy efficient — a key factor for economic viability. The technology is flexible and easily configured for oil sands from different deposits worldwide, using standard and relatively low cost industrial components to secure production certainty. Ideally BCE technology and process suit small-to-medium sized deposits with production rate of up to 10,000 bpd in a single production unit. It is important to emphasize that cost of a barrel’s production using the BCE processing technology is significantly lower than cost of a barrel processed using other technologies currently available for processing oil from oil sands and shale.

Is the BCE technology eco-friendly?

BCE’s process technology is more environmental-friendly than other existing extraction methods. The process, in contrast to Canadian processes, uses little water. A solvent is added to the crushed ore to dissolve the bitumen and separate it from the mineral matrix. After a series of separation and solvent washing steps, the mineral is stripped of solvent and can be returned directly to the mine. Recovered distilled solvent, together with solvent recovered from sand stripping, is recycled and reused in the process.

This process naturally offers significant environmental benefits — water usage is minimal, no tailings or out-of pit storage areas are required, reduced surface disturbance and all mined material can be safely returned to the mine.

Your Company owns oil sand resources in total of a few billion recoverable barrels in Albania, Nigeria and China. What are the future prospects?

BCE has secured exploration and mining rights of Oil Sand deposits in selected locations globally and operate to expend this activity to the Caspian Sea region. The company’s major relative advantages is in its ability to focus on specific Oil-Wet Oil-Sands deposits that are located in regions of significant market demand. We are now working on structuring a first commercial-scale oil sand extraction operation in Albania (Mine & Plant), designed to produce 1,500 barrels per day and it is our mission statement to become a leading global Exploration and Production company in the oil-wet oil sands market by commercializing our proven extraction process to commercial-scale extraction plants in all our deposits worldwide.

What is the nature of your cooperation with Russia?

BCE’s unique extraction process and technology consists of knowhow from both fields of oil industry and mineral beneficiation. The company’s strategic decision was to subcontract the first Plant and Mine engineering design to a Russian leading engineering company, and to purchase most of its Plant’s core equipment from Russian accredited suppliers. For that we established an office and engineering division in Moscow and St. Petersburg and recruited talented and skilled Russian staff. The basis for this strategic decision was Brack Capital Group’s accredited relationships in Russia, the proven and respected experience of the relevant Russian industries, and the project eligibility for Russian government development grants. Since the first Plant will be structured in Albania based on Russian made engineering and equipment we find gratification knowing that we contribute to Russian production and export apparatus and promote Russian business interests to new opportunities in foreign markets.

Oil prices — the main topic of conversation in the business community now. Experts, as far as I know, do not like to give forecasts. You are not an expert in its pure form; you are an actor, oilman. Perhaps, you will risk guessing?

Crude oil and oil products are global commodities. Their prices are determined by supply and demand factors on a worldwide basis. The recent price swipes have been the result of actual and perceived changes of these factors and conditions. Global economic activity reduced, Crude oil consumption declined and production increased rapidly based on strategic decision and significant improvement on productivity.

World crude oil prices will continue to be driven primarily by international supply and demand factors. Among these, I believe that the cost of development and production of new oil deposits and the cost of response to additional infrastructure needs will influence the supply matrix in a manner that will stable the prices in an higher appearance than last year performances.

Natalia Kalashnikova