Rich Kruger, president and CEO of Imperial Oil, is confident that two of the company’s major oil sands projects will obtain provincial government approval. Kruger cites new technologies that will make the projects more energy efficient and environmentally friendly as reasons for his optimism.
New Technologies Boost Efficiency
Imperial’s two major proposals involve the Aspen and Cold Lake Expansion oil sands projects. These facilities will use a new technology known as solvent-assisted steam-assisted gravity drainage (SA-SAGD). Imperial says the new process will produce 25% less emissions and use 25% less water than traditional SAGD facilities. The company also expects the new process to boost the overall efficiency of bitumen production.
Imperial applied to the Alberta Energy Regulator for approval for Aspen in 2013, but updated its submission last year to include the new technology.
SA-SAGD has risen in prominence lately with oil sands producers seeking innovative ways to improve the economics of their operations. Recently, federal natural resources minister Jim Carr was quoted as saying there is “no better example of innovation” than the Alberta oil sands industry.
Vista Projects has extensive experience with SA-SAGD and traditional SAGD facility projects.
Oil Sands Projects Face Challenges
Oil sands projects have been in limbo following the government’s imposition of a greenhouse gas emissions cap. The NDP implemented a 100-megatonne annual cap on emissions from the oil sands industry, which currently produces around 70 megatonnes. The government recently approved the first three projects under the new rules. Kruger says Imperial expects the 75,000 BPD Aspen facility will produce about 1.2 megatonnes of emissions annually.
The government’s ruling is expected next year, at which point Imperial would make a decision on whether to move forward with the project.
Another significant challenge for new oil sands projects is their profitability in the currently depressed oil market. Imperial says Aspen and the Cold Lake Expansion facilities would be profitable with oil prices in the $50 to $60 USD-per-barrel range.
Read this article on the CBC’s website to learn more about Imperial’s statements.
To learn more about SA-SAGD oil sands technology, read this blog post.