This study was commissioned by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), in support of the Climate Change Technology Innovation Initiative
(CCTII), with the objective of identifying new R&D directions for oil sands production processes. The new processes should have the potential to reduce GHG intensities, and improve the sustainability of producing the expanded resource base. This initial, Phase I, or high-level roadmap, is intended to stimulate “exploratory” investigations, into these new directions, which can then be used to develop a more detailed, or Phase II, road map.
Scope of the Study
The “inaccessible” bitumen and heavy oil resources, in Western Canada, are vast, amounting to over 150 billion m3 (900 billion barrels). However, they are contained in deposits, which will present new and unique challenges that are unlikely to be met with incremental improvements to existing processes. Inaccessible resources include bitumen in carbonates, thin or uncontained pay zones, oil remaining in primary production areas, and small deposits under tailings, or outside of the main oil sands area of Alberta. Expansion into these new deposits will require new technologies, and/or stepchange improvements in the application of existing technologies, to enable orderly development in a manner that is sustainable, and achievable with minimal GHG emissions.