Toronto Star. Major oil sands companies in Canada have formed an industry-wide consortium— GeoPower in the Oil Sands, or GeoPOS—to explore the use of geothermal energy as a clean alternative to natural gas for oil sands production.
The oil sands account for nearly a third of Alberta’s natural gas consumption, and the amount used is expected to jump four-fold over the next 10 years as development of the oil sands gathers momentum. Successful use of geothermal energy in the planned multi-billion expansions of oil sands project would mitigate the rapid increase in carbon dioxide emissions and possibly preclude the consideration of nuclear power for the oil sands.
Daniel Yang, a reservoir engineer with Shell Canada, told an audience last month at a geothermal conference in Potsdam, Germany, that planned multi-billion-dollar expansions of oil-sands projects must address the issue of rising gas consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions.
In an abstract of his presentation, Yang wrote that tapping the Earth’s heat is an “ideal opportunity” because profitability of geothermal is “of secondary importance” in the face of rising environmental concerns. “Any level of heat supply is a success,” he concluded.