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Alberta earmarks $70 million for oil sands technologies

Don Horne   


Nine Alberta oil sands technologies will receive more than $70 million through the Oil Sands Innovation Challenge to support economic growth in the oil sands sector.

The funds are provided by the Alberta government through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), an organization that accelerates the development and demonstration of innovative, emissions-reducing technologies.

The funding leverages a combined project value of more than $720 million for Alberta’s oil sands sector. This is ERA’s biggest challenge to date in terms of funding.

“Albertans know that our economy and our environment go hand-in-hand,” says Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and Minister responsible for the Climate Change Office. “These new technologies will reduce emissions while also creating jobs, reducing costs and boosting competitiveness. Our investments in innovation continue to position Alberta as a forward-looking energy producer and climate change leader.”


In total, 47 projects were submitted including field pilots, commercial demonstrations and first-of-a-kind commercial technology with the potential for substantial greenhouse gas reductions in retrofit and new-build oil sands operations.

“Alberta’s energy sector is the most innovative in the world and has proven it can rise to any challenge,” says Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy. “This is about growing production while reducing emissions and costs. That means getting top dollar in return for our oil, which will help secure the industry’s long term success and build an economy to last.”

Selections were made based on the ability to advance innovative technology solutions to delivery, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and cost competitiveness enhancements. All projects include a major oil sands producer as the lead applicant or as a substantial partner and all field demonstrations are required to occur at an Alberta oil sands site.

The following projects are selected for funding:

• Suncor Energy Inc. – High temperature membranes for steam-assisted gravity drainage water treatment;

• Canadian Natural Resources Limited – In-pit extraction process;

• Enlighten Innovations (formerly Field Upgrading Ltd.) – CLEANSEAS™ demonstration project;

• Heavy Oil Solutions Inc. – partner with Cenovus Energy Inc., partial upgrader with integrated water treatment;

• MEG Energy – eMVAPEX pilot, phase 3;

• Cenovus Energy Inc. – Flash Steam Generation field prototype;

• Imperial – Enhanced bitumen recovery technology pilot;

• ConocoPhillips Canada – Non-condensable gas co-injection for thief zone mitigation; and

• Cenovus Energy Inc. – Multi-pad pilot of a solvent-aided process.

These projects will help Alberta’s oil sands industry meet the provincial climate leadership oil sands legislated emissions limit of 100 megatonnes by 2030.

“ERA’s mandate is to identify and accelerate technologies that have the greatest potential to reduce GHGs,” saysSteve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta. “Each of the technologies associated with these nine projects is in the final stages of development and each has the potential to transform Alberta’s oil sands development by significantly reducing both emissions and costs.”

The projects are estimated to result in potential greenhouse gas emissions reductions of up to 4.1 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions reductions in Alberta by 2030. This is equivalent to more than 440,000 homes’ energy use for one year.


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