Why was this study done?

This study is in response to a recommendation by the panel looking into odours and emissions from heavy oil and bitumen operations in the Peace River Oil Sands (PROS) Area in Alberta. One of the panel’s findings was that there was not enough data on the geology and petroleum chemistry of the heavy oil and bitumen in this area.

What is the goal of the study?

The goal of the study was to identify the geology (such as rock type, location in the ground, and how and where the oil is contained in the rocks), method of production, and the chemistry of the heavy oil and bitumen and determine if any of these might contribute to higher amounts of odorous gases being released.

What was sampled?

The study analyzed oil and gas samples mainly from wells in the PROS area. Samples from Athabasca and Cold Lake Oil Sands Areas and light oil from key source rocks (geological formations where oil is formed underground) were also analyzed to compare to the Peace River area samples. Gas emitted from liquid samples was also analyzed when heavy oil and bitumen samples were heated to different temperatures.

What did the study conclude?

Based on the samples analyzed, the research findings suggest that in the PROS area, the depth, type of oil (heavy oil and bitumen), and heating of the oil are key factors contributing to increased odorous compounds, and not location.

Additional Resources:

Figure 1: Geological picks used to build the model geological surfaces

Figure 2: Geological units in the model