Oil sands_________Of Note:A small group of oil sands companies have broken industry ranks.
The alliance members include a group of smaller companies who address the environmental problems in the oil
sands with a new technology called steam-assisted gravity drainage or SAGD.
SAGD has a far smaller landscape footprint because it does not create tailings ponds, uses one-fifth the water
of mining projects, and uses primarily brackish water instead of fresh.
The members include:
Laricina Energy Ltd., (private)
MEG Energy Corp., (private)
Osum Oil Sands Corp. and (private)
Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd. (PBG.T)____________________________________________________________________________________________Related Posts:
Tar sands smog seen worsening
Alberta set to unveil new rules for oil sands waste
To access my current posts, click the following link:Notes From a Cyber Trader____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Tarred by 'dirty oil,' some producers fight backNew alliance of firms that use steam to extract oil argue smaller environmental footprint makes them greener
NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE AND SHAWN MCCARTHY
The Globe and Mail
February 19, 2009
CALGARY and OTTAWA -- Faced with rising pressure from environmental groups and big institutional investors, a group of small oil sands companies have broken industry ranks to characterize themselves as the green vanguard of Fort McMurray.
The companies have joined a growing, but disparate effort by the oil industry - along with the federal and Alberta governments - to counter an aggressive lobbying campaign that has arisen around U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Canada. Environmental groups are looking to persuade the new U.S. administration to introduce new regulations that would cripple oil sands producers.
As those critics continued their attacks yesterday, oil companies also faced growing pressure from major U.S. investors over financial and environmental risks posed by their oil sands projects.
In a news conference yesterday, executives from the Ceres investor group
- a coalition of pension funds and non-governmental organizations - placed two companies, Chevron Corp
. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
, on a "climate watch list" for their alleged failure to address their environmental problems in the oil sands.
But the newly formed In Situ Oil Sands Alliance
argues that not all companies should be tarred with the same brush as major oil sands miners such as Chevron
, Syncrude Canada Ltd
. and Suncor Energy Inc
., whose projects scour vast tracts of boreal forest and require immense tailings ponds.
In contrast, the in situ method
- called steam-assisted gravity drainage or SAGD
- has a far smaller landscape footprint because it does not create tailings ponds, uses one-fifth the water of mining projects, and uses primarily brackish water instead of fresh, the alliance members argue.
"I think it's totally unfair that SAGD
is seen as dirty oil," said Sveinung Svarte, president of Athabasca Oil Sands Corp.
, one of the alliance's founding members.
"We are all considered environmentally unfriendly, but with footprint and water we are not in the same league at all. And we wanted to be seen as different. And if the Americans really sat down and looked at all the different environmental parts of it, they would see that the California oil is as polluting as bitumen from SAGD."
However, the SAGD method is a more energy-intensive extraction process, and typically emits 20-per-cent more greenhouse gases per barrel of bitumen than does the mining method
The alliance members include a group of smaller companies that are designing new technologies that will reduce in situ's natural gas requirements and, they say, put it on an environmental par with U.S. crude imports from Mexico and Venezuela. The members include Laricina Energy Ltd., MEG Energy Corp., Osum Oil Sands Corp. and Petrobank Energy and Resources Ltd.The Ceres investors group
did not distinguish between mining and in situ projects yesterday when it added the two oil sands companies to its watch list. It argues that both methods produce unacceptable levels of greenhouse gases.
"Extracting oil from tar sands is a dead end on the road to a clean energy future, and a risky venture for investors
," Ceres president Mindy Lubber said in a conference call.
"Investors have a message for President Obama on the eve of his visit to Canada: Please do not forsake long-term prosperity and long-term shareholder value for short-term energy independence."
In an interview with CBC this week, Mr. Obama acknowledged the need to improve the environmental performance of the oil sands
, comparing the issue the United States' need to dramatically cut emissions from its coal-fired utilities, which supply half that country's electricity.
But he said the answer lays in technology such as carbon capture and storage - a hugely expensive method of diverting carbon dioxide from power plants and other large projects and injecting it for storage underground
The concept of steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). Horizontal wells drilled in stacked pairs form the basic unit of a SAGD project (top
). Steam injected into the upper well melts surrounding oil (bottom
).Gravity causes the mobilized oil to flow downward to the lower well,where the oil is produced to surface. SAGD well pairs can be drilled totrack depositional features or in patterns for optimal recovery.
The team at AOSC has extensive expertise in recovering bitumen using in situ oil sands recovery processes, such as Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD).
Characteristics of the SAGD Process
Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) is an in situ (in place) heavy oil recovery technology used to recover bitumen from oil sands deposits that are too deep for oil sands surface mining.
SAGD is a thermal production method for heavy oil and bitumen that pairs a horizontal injection well with a horizontal production well drilled along a parallel trajectory. The wells are drilled with a vertical separation of approximately 5 meters with the injector above the producer, and with both wells positioned low in the reservoir. Saturated steam is injected into the reservoir via the SAGD injection well where the steam rises and expands throughout the reservoir.
Upon contact with the cold bitumen in the reservoir the steam condenses thereby heating the bitumen and reducing its viscosity. The goal is to reduce the bitumen’s viscosity so that it will flow under gravitational forces, along with the condensed steam, to the SAGD production well, that in turn extracts the bitumen to surface heavy oil production facilities.
In Situ Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) Facility near Fort McMurray,Alberta, Canada
Source: Suncor Energy Inc._____________________________________________________________