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PTAC-Genome Alberta Technology Information Session
Alberta is home to some of the world’s top experts in oil & gas research and innovation. There is tremendous opportunity to apply the knowledge obtained from the genetics of living organisms in and around oil & gas systems to inform operations and performance. Genomics (DNA-based) technologies take advantage of this information to improve production, mitigate emissions, and expedite remediation. The purpose of this session is to share information on leading genomics technology and applications being developed for the benefit of Alberta and Canada’s energy sector. The researchers presenting at these sessions will share their plans and proposed efforts for enhanced oil recovery, biosurfactants, wetland treatment systems, and groundwater stewardship.
Genome Alberta is a not-for-profit funding organization that promotes genomics-enabled solutions across sectors. Genome Alberta works with their primary funding partner, Genome Canada, and others to support the development of genomics research proposals that will yield socioeconomic benefits. Genome Alberta has been supporting the presenting researchers in their applications to Genome Canada’s 2020 Large-Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) Competition: Genomic Solutions in Natural Resources & the Environment.
1) Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 – 11:00 am
“Microbial Genomics for Lowering the Emissions Intensity of Oil Sands Production”
Summary: This University of Calgary led team aims to advance bio-genomics technologies for Alberta’s oil industry as companies pursue per-barrel emissions reductions targets and chart a course towards net zero. Proposed applications will leverage Alberta’s strengths in understanding and exploiting the microorganisms living in subsurface petroleum reservoirs. Microbial populations are poised to respond to major perturbations in these subsurface ecosystems, such as inputs of heat or hydrogen; this microbial activity can be tuned towards disruptive innovation. During SAGD, heat-loving thermophilic bacteria can be harnessed to generate gas in situ in bituminous IHS layers above the steam chamber as it gets gradually heated over the operational lifetime of a project. Technology for nutrient-enhancement of dormant microbes (4 granted patents in the US and Canada) is designed to lower the steam-to-oil ratio and could be especially relevant for steam management to optimise late-in-life SAGD operations. The oil reservoir microbiome also determines the biogeochemical suitability of oil and gas fields as storage sites for hydrogen, tackling an important challenge connected to Alberta’s strategic position in an emerging hydrogen economy. Bio-genomic innovations in these areas will be undertaken in close collaboration with Indigenous communities and businesses in order to benefit from their perspectives and expertise in charting a just, strategic and successful course for Alberta’s energy evolution.
Lead: Dr. Casey Hubert, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences; Campus Alberta Innovation Program (CAIP) Chair in Geomicrobiology, University of Calgary
Co-Lead: Samantha Morton, Director of Research, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Businesses
2) Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 – 11:35 am
“Genomics-informed groundwater stewardship”
Summary – This project will develop genomics-based groundwater bio-indicators for impact of three contaminants associated with oil and gas exploration: stray methane gas migration, salinization and souring. These bio-indicators will use the groundwater microbiome as the canary in the coalmine and reflect the level of microbiome stress, or “inflammation”, a transient response to environmental change, a measure of the impact caused by the contamination. This research will deliver these bio-indicators to end-users, for better groundwater stewardship based on more effective groundwater quality monitoring.
Lead: Dr. Marc Strous, Professor, Department of Geoscience; Campus Alberta Innovation Program (CAIP) Chair in Energy Bioengineering, University of Calgary
Co-Lead: Dr. Cynthia McClain, Hydrogeologist, Alberta Environment and Parks; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary