Lab Canada

New oil sands research centre planned in Calgary

Calgary, AB – Plans for a new research centre in Calgary were announced last week by Imperial Oil. The company says the new site will replace the existing Calgary Research Centre, which is located in the University of Calgary’s Research Park.

The new facility will continue ongoing research work in developing next-generation resource recovery technologies for oil sands development.

Approximately 50 research scientists and technicians currently work at the research centre, and have developed the two key in situ oil-sands recovery technologies currently in use – cyclic steam-stimulation and steam-assisted gravity drainage, or SAGD.

The company says the research centre is driving technology in new directions. For example, Imperial’s and ExxonMobil’s Kearl project is the first oil-sands mining operation that does not require an upgrader to process oil sands bitumen into a saleable crude oil. Imperial says it is also pursuing other technologies such as solvent technology that would virtually eliminate the use of water in oil-sands mining and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with bitumen production processes.

“Imperial’s new state-of-the-art facility will support our oil sands research and build on decades of excellent work in making oil sands production economic and more environmentally friendly,” said Rick Gallant, the company’s vice-president of oil sands development and research. “Our new facility will house lab-scale experiments and specialized facilities to help expand knowledge, contribute to improving existing technologies, and continue our work on the safest and most efficient next-generation technologies for developing Canada’s vast oil sands resource.”

The new research facility, to be located near the company’s new headquarters campus in southeast Calgary, is expected to meet LEED Gold building standards of energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. The new headquarters will be occupied by 2016. Groundbreaking for the new research centre will take place later this year, and the facility will be finished and occupied in 2017. The staff currently working in the Calgary Research Centre will move to the new facility at that time.

Company spokesperson Pius Rolheiser said the company is not disclosing the estimated costs of the new research facility.