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Derrick Digest for Dec. 9, 2016: Oil sands producers pushing limits of environmental innovation

The Derrick Digest is a weekly collection of curated content, based on events from across the oil and gas industry, that caught our eye at Pennine Petroleum Corporation. We hope you find it just as intriguing as we do.

 

Dec. 9, 2016

Canada’s oil sands producers are unfairly, and regularly, slandered for their role in creating greenhouse gas emissions.

On the contrary, the oil sands industry lives on the leading edge of environmental innovation.

In recent weeks, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) noted that its members—which represent 90 percent of the country’s oil sands production—are rapidly accelerating environmental performance improvement in the region.

Since COSIA was established in 2012, member companies have shared more than 900 distinct environmental technologies costing $1.33 billion, according to CEO Dan Wicklum.

“COSIA members are . . . sharing technology further than any other sector in the world by coming together as collaborators in innovation to solve environmental problems,” said Wicklum.

These innovations include:

  • Enhancing cogeneration of heat and power;

  • Increasing waste heat recovery;

  • Carbon capture, storage and conversion;

  • In-situ and oilsands mining energy efficiency; and

  • Water treatment, management and recovery.

“We are developing and testing cutting-edge technologies, and leading in a true innovation-based economy,” said Wicklum.

 

SAGD cogeneration a ‘made-in-Alberta’ solution

A recent academic study reaffirms that oil sands producers are already taking a de facto leading role in climate leadership.

And they’re doing it with a readily available and proven technology.

Cogeneration is essential to heavy-oil steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) projects in Alberta’s oil sands.

Widening the use of cogeneration—otherwise known as combination of heat and power technology—would cut more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Alberta’s electrical grid, and do it more efficiently, than replacing coal with stand-alone natural gas-fired power.

That’s the word from Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR), a University of Calgary initiative focused on energy advancement.

“Most jurisdictions in the world do not have an industrial heat demand that could use the waste heat from thermal power generation. Alberta does, and it is SAGD,” says CESAR director David Layzell.

 

Testing fuel cell carbon capture’s chops

Could fuel cell carbon capture have a future in the oil sands?

Eight oil sands players are betting on it.

FuelCell Energy, based in Danbury, CT, recently announced that it will be working with Alberta Innovates and several private companies to test a megawatt-class fuel cell power plant to concentrate and capture carbon at the same time, while producing ultra-clean power.

The engineering study will be carried out at a heavy oil thermal facility near Lloydminster, SK, that’s owned by Husky Energy.

FuelCell Energy says one fuel cell power plant has the capacity to reduce the oil sands footprint significantly by capturing about 28 million pounds of CO2 a year, while also producing 8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of ultra-clean power.

“We are pleased to provide a potential solution to enhance these oil sands operations with affordable, efficient and clean carbon capture via fuel cells,” says FuelCell Energy CEO Chip Bottone.