Oil Sands Innovation Challenge Awards $71M in GHG Technology Grants

Emissions Reduction Alberta Oil Sands Innovation Challenge Cleantech Grant Alberta

Nine oil sands producers in Alberta, Canada have been awarded with Alberta government funding. The companies chosen to receive cleantech grants had projects dedicated to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) at a competitive cost using advanced innovative technology. In turn, these projects will be help increase the global competitiveness of Alberta’s oil sands industry.

Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) Oil Sands Innovation Challenge has invested $70.6M in nine projects to reduce GHG emissions.

The Oil Sands Innovation Challenge offered Alberta government grants to support the development, piloting, and demonstration of technologies which could improve bitumen production and processing. Proposals were invited for technology solutions related to in situ or mined oil sands extractions. The program ended in September 2017 and is currently not accepting submissions.

Alberta Companies Receive $71M in Oil Sands Technology Grants

The nine projects receiving Alberta government funding from the Oil Sands Innovation Challenge are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than four million tons per year by 2030. The awarded oil sands producers include:

CLEANSEAS™ Demonstration Project

Enlighten Innovations Inc. will design and construct a demonstration facility for its DSU technology, which removes sulphur and upgrades heavy oil including Alberta bitumen into low-sulphur marine fuel.

The company will receive up to $10M in Alberta government funding.

It’s estimated that the DSU technology will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a lifecycle basis by 40%, compared to alternative methods.

Enhanced Bitumen Recovery Technology Pilot

Imperial Oil will be using the Alberta government funding to advance a field trial of its Enhanced Bitumen Recovery Technology (EBRT) to finalize the method and prepare it for commercial use. The process uses a recovery solution to dilute and mobilize bitumen in the reservoir, reducing the amount of steam needed by as much as 90% compared to current methods.

$10M in cleantech grants have been awarded to Imperial Oil.

As well, it is estimated that the technology will reduce GHG emissions by 60% compared to alternate methods.

FSG Field Prototype

Cenovus Energy will partner with FSG Technologies Inc. to demonstrate Flash Steam Generation (FSG) technology for production of steam for in-situ oil sands extraction. FSG’s innovative boiler design may allow more efficient steam generation and eliminate some of the water treatment infrastructure typically required to support in situ projects.

$10M in grants have been awarded to Cenovus Energy Inc. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This project is expected to reduce GHG emissions by 14% and capital expenditures by 20%.

Multi-Pad Pilot of a Solvent-Aided Process

Cenovus Energy will also use cleantech grants to improve one of their technologies, Solvent, which improves the efficiency of its in-situ oil sands recovery and reduces its environmental impact.

ERA’s Oil Sands Innovation Challenge has invested $10M in technology grants to Cenovus Energy.

The Solvent-aided process (SAP) is expected to cut emissions by a third compared to a current technology, Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

Partial Upgrader with Integrated Water Treatment

Heavy Oil Solutions and Cenovus Energy are testing a process that upgrades bitumen to lighter oil at Cenovus’ Christina Lake oil sands project. This technology has the potential to eliminate the need to blend the bitumen with diluent to make it flow through a pipeline.

The company will receive up to $10M in cleantech grants.

The process is expected to reduce costs, shrink the company’s environmental footprint, and free up pipeline capacity.

eMVAPEX Pilot, Phase 3

MEG Energy is implementing their eMVAPEX (enhanced Modified VAPour EXtraction) technology, which involves the application of infill wells and the injection of a condensable gas instead of steam after initial steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operation.

MEG Energy has been awarded $10M in Alberta government funding for their project.

This process is anticipated to reduce the company’s steam-to-oil ratio, increase bitumen production by 76%, and reduce GHG emissions by 43%.

In-Pit Extraction Process

Canadian Natural Resources Limited will use oil sands technology grants to demonstrate a field pilot of its In-Pit Extraction Process (IPEP) technology, which is an alternative to conventional oil sands mining and ore processing. The process involves a relocatable, modular extraction plant that can be moved as the mine face advances.

The company will receive up to $5.6M from Emissions Reduction Alberta’s Oil Sands Innovation Challenge.

The IPEP technology is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 40%, and substantially reduce long term tailings management costs and liabilities.

Non-Condensable Gas Co-Injection for Thief Zones

ConocoPhillips Canada will use funding from the Oil Sands Innovation Challenge to deploy its Non-Condensable Gas (NCG) injection technology at 12 Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) well pairs to validate the technology at commercial scale.

Alberta has invested $2.5M in oil sands technology grants to ConocoPhillips Canada.

The company is proposing that the projects could reduce GHG emissions by up to 15% and reduce operating costs for SAGD facilities by up to 20%.

High Temperature Membranes for SAGD Produced Water Treatment

Suncor Energy Inc. will partner with Devon Energy and Suez to demonstrate High Temperature Reverse Osmosis (HTRO) membranes for SAGD water treatment. If successful, the membranes could eliminate the need to reduce the temperature and pressure of produced water prior to water treatment.

This innovative water treatment will receive up to $2.5M in Alberta government grants.

This technology is expected to reduce GHG emissions by up to 5-10% and reduce capital costs compared to previous SAGD water treatment facilities.

About Emissions Reduction Alberta Oil Sands Innovation Challenge

The Oil Sands Innovation Challenge was designed to work with Alberta government and industry innovators to accelerate the development of new technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with Alberta’s oil sands products.

Potential projects of interest for this program included (but were not limited to):

  • Alternative steam generation methods for in situ recovery;
  • Solutions for tailings reductions and management; and
  • Novel surface mining and bitumen ore processing technologies.

All projects were to be in one of the following stages: Prototype testing, field pilot, commercial demonstration, or first-of-kind technology deployment.

The ERA Oil Sands Innovation Challenge provided up to 50% of project costs to a maximum $10 million in Alberta technology grants.

The Alberta government funding program is currently closed and has not yet announced a re-opening date. Businesses interested in learning more about Emissions Reduction Alberta and their funding opportunities are encouraged to visit their website.

To stay up to date on business grants, industry and funding news, and resources geared to Canadian businesses, sign up for Mentor Works’ Weekly Funding Newsletter.

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Posted: June 19, 2018 by Myra Bredin. Updated: June 19, 2018 by Myra Bredin.

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