A method of producing hydrocarbon diluent from heavy crude oil, comprises pre-heating the crude oil to produce a heated crude oil, separating in a separator vessel by flashing the heated crude oil to produce a first vapor fraction and a first liquid fraction, thermally cracking in a cracking unit at least a portion of the first liquid fraction to produce a first liquid effluent, quenching the first liquid effluent, recycling at least a portion of the quenched first liquid effluent into a separator, condensing the first vapor fraction, and separating in a separator vessel the condensed vapor fraction to produce the hydrocarbon diluent and gas.
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