Western Economic Diversification Canada

Western Economic Diversification Canada

January 27, 2012 12:13 ET

Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan Invest in Research on Oil Production Technologies

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - Jan. 27, 2012) - A combined investment of over $800,000 by the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan will help the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) and the University of Regina (U of R) study innovative recovery methods for oil and gas production, as well as reclamation of associated byproducts.

Ray Boughen, Member of Parliament for Palliser, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, and the Honourable Laura Ross, Minister of Government Services, on behalf of the Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan Minister of Enterprise, joined representatives from the PTRC and U of R for the announcement. The federal and provincial governments are each contributing $403,791 for the three initiatives through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA).

"Our Government is proud to invest in innovative technologies and processes that enable companies to more efficiently and sustainably develop oil and gas resources," said MP Boughen. "We will continue to support research and technology commercialization that helps increase productivity, create jobs and spur sustained economic growth."

"Developing hi-tech innovations to extract our resources and grow our industry while at the same time protecting the environment is a win-win for our province," Minister Ross said. "We are pleased to support our research parks and universities in developing cutting edge technology that address local challenges and have a potential for commercialization to an international market."

The research will focus on three clean technology projects that could increase efficiency of oil and gas production, and reduce its environmental impact. With this funding, the U of R will purchase and install laboratory equipment to develop new membranes and filtration systems to decontaminate produced water, a by-product from oil and gas production.

The PTRC will oversee two related projects. It will refurbish a separator unit and construct field test trailer units to sample produced water in field locations for reclamation and re-use, potentially in agricultural irrigation or other industries. The U of R's laboratory research will be developed in concert with these trailers to help optimize field applications. The PTRC will also undertake a broad evaluation of organic nutrient sources in Saskatchewan, leading to further research on microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) technologies. All three projects will contribute to increased efficiency of oil and gas production and reduce the environmental impact of these activities.

"One of the most pressing concerns in the Western Canadian oil patch is the amount of produced water during oil recovery," noted Malcolm Wilson, CEO of the PTRC. "It is particularly difficult for smaller companies in the field because of the costs associated with clean up, so developing cost effective methods is critical."

"The funding committed today by our federal and provincial government partners demonstrates the value of government, industry and academic collaborations in finding solutions to meet challenges in the energy industry," said Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina. "The University of Regina is pleased to partner once again with the Petroleum Technology Research Centre to develop practical and environmentally sustainable solutions that will benefit our province and country by helping meet the needs of our growing resource sector."

The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are contributing $25 million each, over four years, to the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement to strengthen economic activity and improve quality of life in western Canadian communities.

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University of Regina and Petroleum Technology Research Centre

Clean Technology Oil Production projects

The federal and provincial governments are each contributing $403,791 through the Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA) towards three clean technology projects to improve the efficiency, productivity, and environmental impact of the Western Canadian oil and gas sector.

All three projects will be managed by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) as part of its STEPS Business-Led Network of Centres of Excellence Program. One of the projects will be undertaken with research at the University of Regina (UofR).

Background Project Info

Separator Unit Refurbishment and Construction of Field Test Units - PTRC

Government of Canada funding: $180,000

Government of Saskatchewan funding: $180,000

  • PTRC will refurbish a separator unit to separate the produced water in a field setting to capture streams of oil, gas and water for removal and analysis in laboratories. It is an essential piece of equipment to provide field data to researchers so as to identify better methods of improving the quality of produced water.
  • Two water processing units will be developed to help PTRC test for removal of oil from produced water. Partners in the field test will be Erin Consulting of Regina and the Saskatchewan Research Council. The two units will take a slipstream of produced water from a producing reservoir and skim the agglomerated oil and particles in real time, in the field. Various technologies might be used as part of these two units, and will be tested for their abilities to be scaled up.
  • Produced water is defined as either water that is pumped out of the ground with oil, or a by-product of the recovery process. This water has particulates, oil emulsions, salt, and micro-organisms. Produced water cannot be put into existing water sources without significant treatment, nor re-injected into oil reservoirs because it could put new contaminants back into the reservoir.
  • Handling produced water is a major issue facing small-to-medium sized oil companies, which lack the resources of larger companies to deal with water treatment.

Benefits: The benefits are the same as the laboratory development for water filtration systems because the project work is complimentary.

Laboratory Development for Water Filtration Systems - University of Regina

Government of Canada funding: $179,791

Government of Saskatchewan funding: $179,791

  • The University of Regina will purchase state-of-the art processing and testing equipment for its laboratories to develop new membranes for cleaning produced water, and to test established membranes under different conditions to help optimize processes.
  • Ceramic membrane testing will be a particular focus of the U of R's research, along with the testing of ionic liquids to facilitate water and oil separation - the lab work may lead to the testing of such membranes and fluids in the PTRC's field units, at different locations.

Benefits: On average four barrels of water gets produced in Saskatchewan for every one barrel of oil. The cost to industry averages about $3 to $5 million per day. The objective of these projects is to design a cost effective treatment process to remove different contaminants, including salts, from produced water so that the treated water can meet the criteria for clean water and/or agricultural water standards.

Together, these produced water projects will help reduce production costs by reducing the cost of water treatment and improving environmental impacts. With these technologies, oil and gas companies may be able to reduce the amount of water used from surface or ground sources and re-use produced water for oil recovery or other industries, such as agricultural irrigation.

Nutrient Scan for Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery - PTRC

Government of Canada funding: $44,000

Government of Saskatchewan funding: $44,000

  • Evaluate possible sources of nutrients in the province that could be used to increase oil production, for the study of microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR).
  • Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR) is in its early stages but is being investigated as a means to pump more oil from existing reserves that are in decline.
  • This preliminary work will characterize nutrients that occur naturally in Saskatchewan, and help determine how they might interact with certain microbes of interest. It is essential before the larger-scale field tests and deployment of the technology can occur.
  • Microbial EOR works by natural bacteria changing the chemical composition or characteristics of oil in the ground. For example, some microbes might react in the reservoir and create gases (methane, etc.) which are solvents that act to improve the viscosity of the oil, allowing it to flow to production wells more easily.

Benefit: Saskatchewan heavy oil production declined 36,000 barrels/day between 2005 and 2010 according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) June 2011 Report. Successful microbial applications to depressurized, non-producing wells are anticipated to create incremental revenue of $1.7 million to $3.4 million per well over five years.

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