Presentation 2016-001

Author(s) Date 2016-06-19

The vast oil sands of Alberta have become one of the major unconventional energy resources in the World, and an integral part of the global energy mix. Origins of the oil-sands/heavy-oil industry are a Canadian technology and entrepreneurial success story – one, of which, is often ignored. By the late 1800s/early 1900s a number of unsuccessful drilling seasons finally resulted in 1910 with the establishment of the first Athabasca Oil and Asphalt Co. Founding of the Alberta Research Council and later hiring of Dr. Karl Clark resulted in the 1929 patenting of a hot-water separation process to extract bitumen from the oil sands. About 30 years ago, cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) projects were started at Primrose and Peace River, AB, followed by targeted Alberta government (AOSTRA) funding to test the feasibility of Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (or SAGD) for in-situ recovery of bitumen. The SAGD process, invented by Dr. Roger Butler, was field tested at the AOSTRA Underground Test Facility near Dover, AB. At this time, well delineation of the oil sands was sparse, and databases consisted (at most) of ∼ 4 wells/township. Through the decades, government, industry and academia have collaborated to bring the science and technology together for effective, efficient, safe, and environmentally-responsible development of the oil sands/heavy-oil. This collaboration made what many considered (at best) an experimental design(s), to be the backbone of the Alberta present and future energy industry.

AER Lunch and Learn session, 2016