Lab Canada

Energy research helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

Edmonton, AB October 17, 2003 A heavy oil extraction test facility was recently opened near Fort McMurray in order to explore a technology that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 85%.

Last year, the Alberta government announced it was joining forces with nine leading Canadian oil and gas producers (the DOVAP consortium) to invest in a $30-million heavy-oil research project to test the economic, environmental and technical viability of a new recovery technology.

“This project is a long-term investment in the future of Alberta’s energy industry,” said Victor Doerksen, the province’s minister of innovation and science, at the opening. “We continue to build on our past successes and invest in new energy technologies that ensure economic prosperity and environmental protection. The outcome of this project could be cost-effective, viable alternatives to heavy oil extraction that address important issues such as climate change and water conservation.”

This recovery method, known as the VAPEX Process, involves injecting vapourized solvents into heavy oil and has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions and significantly reduce water consumption, as compared to other extraction technologies currently being used.

The Alberta government, through the Alberta Energy Research Institute, has committed $7.5 million to the project from their existing budget, and the DOVAP consortium is contributing $15 million. The federal government, through Technology Partnerships Canada, previously announced its $7.5 million contribution in June 2001.

The long-term research project will be conducted at the Dover site in Fort McMurray and will be operated by Devon Canada. The project is being integrated with existing facilities to reduce costs and is expected to last between five and 10 years.