EPAC Explorer – Winter/Spring 2017 Issue

Innovation, Collaboration, Research and Development, Clean Tech – These have become common themes in the Canadian hydrocarbon industry’s world given the current low price environment and newly established federal and provincial targets.  While these themes are not necessarily new to our sector, many emerging, junior and intermediate Canadian producers are not aware of the collaborative innovation opportunities that exist through PTAC to reduce their costs and GHG emissions at the same time.  PTAC Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada has served as an imperative component of the Canadian hydrocarbon industry’s innovation ecosystem, providing a mechanism that facilitates industry stakeholders in collaboratively launching innovative R&D and technology development solutions, and that the Canadian hydrocarbon industry has come to rely on for over two decades.

PTAC itself serves as a neutral non-profit facilitator of collaborative R&D and technology development initiatives, and operates in partnership with all industry stakeholders to transform challenges into opportunities. By effectively leveraging financial resources and technical expertise through its proven model, PTAC has been able to able to support collaborative networks which advance innovative R&D and technology development projects that address pertinent industry challenges through activities which reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies, enhance environmental stewardship, advance regulatory development, and provide our industry with the social license to operate. To date, we have completed nearly 500 R&D projects through the formation of collaborative consortia, representing numerous organizations within industry who provide both funding and technical support.

Recent government targets to reduce our environmental footprint, in conjunction with the current low commodity market have created a challenging environment for all industry stakeholders, especially Canadian producers. In order to effectively address the challenges of cost reduction, reducing environmental impact, and reaching federal and provincial climate leadership targets, the adaptation of innovative technology development and application will be critical for all industry players, especially for small and medium sized producers.

PTAC recognizes that that many emerging, junior, and even intermediate producers do not have readily available resources to establish dedicated research and technology development teams which seek out innovative technology opportunities, and we understand that the availability of resources is not likely to increase any time soon. PTAC is dedicating its resources to establishing a new program which will help bring technology and best practice awareness to small and medium sized operators, ultimately aiming to drastically improve their financial and environmental performance. This recent program takes into account the changing landscape within our industry, and will connect emerging, junior, and intermediate producers to innovative technology providers who can effectively and efficiently help address their current challenges, thus increasing market penetration and technology uptake, while improving overall industry performance and creating an improved innovation ecosystem in which all parties benefit.

Again, we recognize that resources are limited, especially for small and mid-size producers, and should this program wish to be successful, it must meet the needs of operators in a swift and economical manner. As a first step, PTAC is offering a series of brief complimentary information sessions for emerging, junior, and intermediate producers, focused on practical applications and innovative technology solutions readily available for implementation, which can reduce costs and lower environmental impact, while increasing production and reserves, In turn, these sessions will aid in the creation of a win-win scenario for all stakeholders, and will contribute to the healthy expansion of the Canadian oil and gas industry’s innovation ecosystem. Several of these sessions have already been scheduled, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to participate http://www.ptac.org/events/upcoming.

While many PTAC technology projects and applications will be highlighted at these events, a solid example of a successful PTAC technology project that addresses environmental issues while increasing corporate profitability is REMVue Slipstream Technology. Slipstream Technology captures vented light hydrocarbons from oil tanks, condensate tanks, and other instrumentation, and uses it as fuel in the field. Hundreds of Slipstream units are currently operational, generating $15M per year from the engine fuel displaced.  At the same time, the carbon offset of the technology thus far is equal to taking 150K cars off the road annually. Should these units be fully implemented across industry operations, the carbon offset would be equal to taking 1.6M cars off the road annually while generating $160M per year from engine fuel displacement. Currently, this technology has only seen 10% market uptake, therefore the untapped opportunity for expansion and increased cost savings it single-handedly is immense, let alone the other opportunities which exist through the thousands of other technologies that are readily available for deployment.

Through the innovation ecosystem, PTAC has also been able to facilitate the Alberta Upstream Petroleum Research Fund, also known as AURPF. The applied research carried out under the AUPRF program benefits all stakeholders from both an environmental and financial perspective, and has created a unique platform for collaboration between the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Energy Regulator, and industry, to reduce the environmental footprint and negative social impact of oil and gas operations. AUPRF’s applied research studies address high-priority environmental and social issues related to oil and gas exploration, development, and production in Alberta. To date, over 270 applied research projects in 5 environmental areas of Air, Ecology/Biodiversity, Water, Soil and Groundwater, and Well Abandonment, have provided a cost savings for industry estimated between $90M-$350M with additional cost savings increasing each year.  AUPRF has also incorporated a key value-added feature applicable to emerging, junior, and intermediate operators, which focuses on the development of field guides that expand the uptake of research results, ultimately allowing operations staff to quickly and efficiently benefit from research outputs, and thus expanding the opportunities for small and medium sized producers within the innovation ecosystem.

While the existing economic landscape for emerging, junior, and intermediate producers may appear formidable at present, the potential opportunities to overcome current challenges through collaboration and innovation are infinite. Ultimately, our industry must adapt the mindset that collaborative innovation and technology development will be the only method in driving the Canadian hydrocarbon sector forward, and will be the only way in which we can effectively reduce both costs and the environmental footprint, while improving market access, increasing reserves, profitability, and production, and mitigating the commodity risk. Innovation without collaboration is possible, but it a long, difficult, and expensive process. Collaboration from all industry players, including producers, service and supply companies, inventors, government bodies, and academia, is the most effective and efficient method in creating new and innovative technologies which better not only our industry, but our environment and society as a whole, all while reducing costs. Overall, the hydrocarbon energy industry must acknowledge the concept that PTAC has affirmed over the past 20 years, that with innovation and collaboration, we can reduce the environmental footprint and negative social impact of hydrocarbon development, while ensuring profitability for years to come.

Dr. Soheil Asgarpour


PTAC Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada