Full-fuel-cycle GHG emissions estimates for reformulated gasoline pathways by LCA study. Nominal value of 70 g CO2/MJ for combustion emissions is applied evenly across all studies. Credit: ACS, Brandt 2012. Click to enlarge. In a paper published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, Stanford University assistant professor Adam... Read more →


CSLM image (63x) of 3-day-old aerobically grown biofilm on CBD pegs. Autoflouresence of hydrocarbons from the tailings can be seen in the background and small clusters of cells are indicated with a white arrow. Source: Golby et al. Click to enlarge. Researchers at the Universities of Calgary and Alberta are... Read more →


Enbridge’s current liquids pipelines (not showing Seaway or proposed Flanagan South and Wrangler). Click to enlarge. Canada-based Enbridge Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire ConocoPhillips’ 50% interest in the Seaway Crude Pipeline System for US$1.15 billion. On closing, Enbridge will become joint owner of the pipeline with Enterprise... Read more →


Kinder Morgan to purchase El Paso for approximately $38B to form largest natural gas pipeline network and largest midstream energy enterprise in North America

Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) and El Paso Corporation on Sunday announced a definitive agreement whereby KMI will acquire all of the outstanding shares of EP in a transaction that will create the largest midstream and the fourth-largest energy company in North America with an enterprise value of approximately $94 billion... Read more →


Unconventional liquids become increasingly important in the total supply of liquid fuels, according to IEO2011. Click to enlarge. Worldwide energy consumption will grow by 53% between 2008 and 2035 with much of the increase driven by strong economic growth in the developing nations, especially China and India, according to the... Read more →


Enbridge liquid pipelines with Athabasca twinning project shown. Click to enlarge. Enbridge Inc. will twin the southern section of its Athabasca Pipeline from the Kirby Lake, Alberta terminal to the Hardisty, Alberta crude oil hub at an estimated cost of approximately C$1.2 billion (US$1.2 billion). The twin line will initially... Read more →


Comparison of the percent differential for WTW (well-to-wheel) GHGs from gasoline produced from WCSB oil sands using different production processes relative to gasoline produced from reference crudes. Source: FEIS, Appendix V. Click to enlarge. The US Department of State (DOS) released the final version of the Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)... Read more →


N-Solv reduces bitumen viscosity—accelerating the extraction rate—with a modest increase in temperature. Source: N-Solv. Click to enlarge. Canada is awarding C$10M (US$10.5 million) from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund to a consortium led by N-Solv Corp. to support the demonstration of its Bitumen Extraction Solvent Technology (BEST),... Read more →


Summary of the current oil sands developments (mining and in-situ) and associated land use changes in the Fort McMurray region, highlighting some of the challenges the integrated monitoring design addresses. Click to enlarge. Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent released an integrated monitoring plan for the oil sands region. The Government... Read more →


The carbon capture process at the Scotford oil sands upgrader will capture about 35% of emissions. Click to enlarge. Shell has signed agreements with the Governments of Alberta and Canada to secure C$865 million (US$876 million) in funding for its Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project in Canada. (Earlier... Read more →


Proposed anaerobic hydrocarbon biodegradation pathways in oil sands tailings. Credit: ACS, Siddique et al. Click to enlarge. The extraction of bitumen from mined oils sands produces enormous volumes of tailings—a slurry of slightly alkaline water, sand, silt, clay, and residual hydrocarbons—that are stored in settling basins; the current inventory is... Read more →


Canadian oil sands & conventional production. Source: CAPP. Click to enlarge. Oil sands growth will drive Canadian crude oil production to about 4.7 million barrels per day by 2025 from 2.8 million bpd in 2010—a 67% increase—according to the latest forecast from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). This... Read more →


Separation of bitumen from a Canadian oil sand sample using an ionic liquid. Click to enlarge. A team of researchers at Penn State has developed a new, more environmentally friendly method of separating bitumen from oil sands utilizing ionic liquids (IL). The method is also capable of cleaning oil spills... Read more →


Alberta moving ahead with major new oilsands refinery with carbon capture

The Alberta government has successfully negotiated contracts for two projects that will advance the upgrading and refining of oil sands bitumen to diesel fuel. The first project, with the North West Upgrading (NWU) / Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) Partnership will lead to construction of a new bitumen refinery as... Read more →


Increasing crude processing intensity and energy intensity with worsening oil quality. OQ: Crude feed oil quality. PI: Crude processing intensity. EI: Refinery energy intensity. Observations are annual weighted averages for districts 1 (yellow), 2 (blue), 3 (orange), and 5 (black) in 1999-2008. Diagonal lines bound the 95% confidence of prediction... Read more →


Suncor is targeting 1 million barrels per day output in 2020, with its growth in the oil sands underpinned by its alliance with Total. Click to enlarge. Canada-based Suncor Energy Inc., which pioneered commercial development of the Athabasca oil sands in 1967, plans to increase production to more than one... Read more →


The AFD development at the Muskeg River Mine from the air. Source: Shell Canada. Click to enlarge. Shell Canada has started its commercial-scale Atmospheric Fines Drying field demonstration for managing tailings from its oil sands operations. Tailings are a mixture of fine clay, sands, water and residual bitumen produced through... Read more →


Schematic of Tailings Reduction Operations (TRO). Click to enlarge. Suncor Energy has received conditional approval for its oil sands fluid tailings management plan from Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB). The plan proposed the expansion of a new approach to tailings management called TRO (Tailings Reduction Operations), which involves converting... Read more →


Growth of production of Canadian oil sands. Source: IHS CERA. Click to enlarge. The Canadian oil sands are now poised to become the number one source of US crude oil imports in 2010, according to new research from the IHS CERA Canadian Oil Sands Dialogue. In addition, oil sands imports... Read more →


DOE Seeking Comments on Report on Research Strategy for Developing Unconventional Fossil Energy Resources

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking comments from industry and academia on a draft report outlining domestic unconventional fossil energy resource opportunities and associated technology applications, in support of an overall strategy for the further development of these resources. The report, Unconventional Fossil Energy: Domestic Resource Opportunities and... Read more →


Filters showing airborne particulates left after 900 mL of melted snow from each sampling site was filtered. Yellow, distance between sites; blue, communities; red, existing and approved surface mining projects. Source: Kelly et al., PNAS. Click to enlarge. A study by researchers in Canada and the US shows that oil... Read more →


Overview of the Quest CCS project. Click to enlarge. The provincial government of Alberta and the federal government of Canada will invest C$865 million (US$822 million) in a large-scale Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project in the Athabasca oil sands. The province signed a Letter of Intent with Shell Canada... Read more →


New Study Concludes Substantial Quantities of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Land-Use Change in the Boreal Forests for Oil Sands Production Are Unreported

A new study released by Global Forest Watch Canada finds that significant amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted through the disturbance and/or removal of biocarbon (trees, shrubs, peats), which overlay Alberta’s oil sands. These land-use change emissions have not previously been measured nor reported by governments and industry. The resulting... Read more →


SOLVE adds a solvent to the steam in SAGD (basic operation depicted above) to reduce energy input and water consumption. Source: StatoilHydro. Click to enlarge. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) has awarded C$6 million (US$5.6 million) to the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) in Regina, Saskatchewan and StatoilHydro Canada for... Read more →


The Alberta Clipper pipeline (red). Click to enlarge. The US State Department has issued a Presidential Permit to Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership to enable construction of the Alberta Clipper pipeline for the transport of crude oil from the Canadian oil sands to US refineries. (Earlier post.) The 1,000-mile/1,607-km pipeline will... Read more →


A plot from the TIAX study of the ranges of well-to-wheel emissions for different types of crudes in different refinery areas in the US for gasoline production. The yellow bar is the range calculated for different conventional crudes. Click to enlarge. Two new lifecycle studies have found that direct greenhouse... Read more →


Oil sands supply chain. Source: Levi 2009. Click to enlarge. A new report from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)—The Canadian Oil Sands: Energy Security vs Climate Change— claims that prudent greenhouse gas regulations can limit emissions from Canadian oil sands while still enabling robust development of the energy resource.... Read more →


Genome Alberta Announces Funding for Genomics Project to Reduce Environmental Impact of Oil Sands Production

Genome Alberta announced C$25.2 million (US$22.2 million) in public/private funding over four years for two new genomic research projects, one targeted at enhanced recovery of fossil hydrocarbon resources from oil sands and coal beds through biological processes, the other focused on discovering plant genes that can be sequenced and used... Read more →


RAND Study Concludes Oil Sands Synthetic Crude Can Be Cost-Competitive with Conventional Petroleum Even Over a Wide Range of CO2 Prices

Estimated unit costs of SCO from steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) with upgrading, with and without CCS, and of conventional crude oil in 2025, versus different costs of CO2 emissions. Click to enlarge. Source: RAND A new report from RAND concludes that in 2025, synthetic crude oil (SCO) produced from oil... Read more →


UOP, Albemarle and Petrobras to Cooperate on Catalytic Crude Upgrading for Heavy Oils

UOP LLC, Albemarle and Petrobras have signed a technology cooperation agreement to demonstrate and further the commercialization of UOP’s Catalytic Crude Upgrading (CCU) process technology. UOP developed the CCU process in 2005 as a cost-effective option to upgrade heavy crude oils and bitumen-derived crude. Under the agreement, UOP will provide... Read more →


Argonne and KPM Developing New Efficient Process for Extracting Hydrogen from Hydrogen Sulfide in Unrefined Petroleum, Including Oil Sands

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Kingston Process Metallurgy Inc. (KPM) of Kingston, Ontario are developing a new process to extract and reuse pure hydrogen from the hydrogen sulfide that naturally contaminates unrefined oil, including oil sands. The hydrogen can then be used to upgrade... Read more →


Report Assesses Energy and Carbon Efficiency of Canadian Oils Sands Projects

Oil sands projects vary widely in carbon intensity. Click to enlarge. Trucost Plc, an UK-based environmental research company, has analyzed carbon data from Canadian oil sands projects to identify which oil producers are more exposed to financial risk from energy and carbon costs. Oil sands production is, in general, 3-4... Read more →


TransCanada Announces $7B Expansion to Keystone Pipeline Project; Capacity Could Reach 1.5M Barrels per Day

The existing Keystone pipeline project and the Keystone XL expansion project. Click to enlarge. TransCanada Corporation, on behalf of the Keystone Pipeline partnerships (Keystone) between TransCanada and ConocoPhillips, plans to expand the still-to-be-completed Keystone crude oil pipeline system project (earlier post) to provide additional capacity of 500,000 barrels per day... Read more →


US Conference of Mayors Calls for Fuel Life-Cycle Analyses; Halt to Purchasing of Oil Sands-Derived Fuels

At its 76th Annual Meeting in Miami, Florida (20-24 June), the US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution encouraging the use of life cycle analyses that evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions from the production—including extraction, refining, and transportation—of fuels, including unconventional and synthetic fuels. The resolution further encouraged mayors to... Read more →


Alberta Oil Sands Output Estimated to Increase Almost 2.5x by 2017

The ERCB is projecting the production of synthetic crude oil from bitumen to almost triple over the forecast period. Click to enlarge. Annual production of non-upgraded bitumen and synthetic crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands will increase almost 2.5 times by 2017 from 2007 levels, according to the just-published report... Read more →


Ivanhoe Energy to Acquire Oil Sands Assets; First Commercial Application of HTL Upgrading Technology

HTL processing in High Quality mode. Vacuum tower bottoms (VTBs) are routed to the Reactor where thermal cracking takes place. Upgraded VTBs (product) are quenched at the exit of the Reactor Cyclone and routed to the Atmospheric Distillation Unit where distillate and lighter material is sent to product tank and... Read more →


Eni to Invest US$3B in Republic of Congo; Focus on Tar Sands and Palm Biodiesel

Italy-based oil and gas major Eni will invest US$3 billion in the Republic of Congo over the next four years, generating an expected equity production of 150 million barrels of oil equivalent from tar sands and biodiesel production. Eni reached an agreement with the government for the exploration and exploitation... Read more →


Titanium Corporation Receives Grant To Research Extraction of Hydrocarbons and Minerals from Oil Sands Tailings

Without recovery, oil sands production is projected to lose 30 million barrels per year of bitumen and naptha by 2015. Click to enlarge. Alberta Energy has awarded Titanium Corporation a C$3.5-million grant to research the value-added opportunities and environmental benefits of stripping out hydrocarbons and heavy minerals from oil sands... Read more →


Government of Canada to Require New Oil Sands Operations to Implement Carbon Capture and Storage Starting in 2012

Projected reductions in the future growth of greenhouse gas emissions based on the Turning the Corner Plan. Click to enlarge. The Government of Canada has published details of its regulatory framework originally announced on 26 April 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The newly published requirements include setting a target... Read more →


Suncor Board Approves C$20.6B Oil Sands Expansion

The diagram depicts the assets of the 200,000 bpd “Voyageur” expansion program; however, Voyageur will be operated on an integrated basis with existing operations. Click to enlarge. The Board of Directors of Suncor Energy gave final approval to a C$20.6 billion (US$20.7 billion) investment to boost crude oil production at... Read more →


Schlumberger Acquires Raytheon Technology for Oil Extraction from Oil Shale and Oil Sands

Radio Frequency / Critical Fluid Oil Extraction Technology. Click to enlarge. Schlumberger, a leading oilfield services company, has acquired Raytheon’s technology for the extraction of oil from oil shale and oil sands. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The technology, developed by Raytheon and partner CF Technologies for... Read more →


Discovery of Mechanism of Biodegradation of Crude Oil to Methane Could Lead to Cleaner Oil-Sands Production and Enhanced Energy Recovery from Oilfields

An international team of researchers has shown how anaerobic microbes in oil deposits around the world—including in unconventional sources such as the oil sands—naturally break down crude oil into methane in the reservoir. Their discovery—published in the journal Nature—could lead to more energy-efficient, economic ways to extract difficult-to-recover energy from... Read more →


BP Moves Into Canadian Oil Sands with Husky Energy; Major Upgrade Planned at US Refinery

BP is moving into the Canadian oil sands by acquiring a half-share in the Sunrise field, located in the Athabasca oil sands in northeast Alberta, operated by Husky Energy. At the same time Husky will acquire a half share in BP’s Toledo oil refinery in Ohio, US, between them forming... Read more →


Alberta Unveils New Royalty Plan for Energy Sector; 20% Increase Projected Over Current Levels

Alberta’s share from oil sands projects under the new royalty regime (hatched blue) compared to other countries. Click to enlarge. Source: Alberta Royalty Review Panel Saying that “Future generations of Albertans will receive a fair share from the development of their resources,” Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach last week unveiled the... Read more →


US Task Force on Unconventional Fuels Completes Plan; Calls Situation Urgent and Targets 7M Barrels Per Day by 2035

Unconventional fuels objectives for 2035. Click to enlarge. The Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels, established by the Secretary of Energy under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, has completed an integrated strategy and program plan to coordinate and accelerate the commercial development of strategic unconventional fuels within the United... Read more →


Saskatchewan Gets On Board the Oil Sands Train

Saskatchewan’s oil sands deposit is contained within the Mannville Group of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin which was deposited across B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the US. Click to enlarge. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan, the eastern neighbor of Alberta, the locus of the oil sands boom in Canada, held... Read more →


Energy Alberta Files Site Application for Oil Sands Nuclear Plant

Rendering of the heat transport system in the ACR-1000. Click to enlarge. Energy Alberta Corporation (Energy Alberta) has filed an application for a site preparation license for two twin-unit ACR-1000 CANDU nuclear reactors to provide power for the oil sands operations in Alberta. Energy Alberta, a privately held company incorporated... Read more →


BP Pledges No Increase in Lake Michigan Discharge Limits at Whiting Refinery

Faced with public and Congressional opposition to a planned, permitted increase in the daily discharge of ammonia and total suspended solids from its Whiting refinery into Lake Michigan to enable it to increase the amount of Canadian heavy crude it can process, BP has promised to operate the refinery to... Read more →


Marathon Oil Acquiring Western Oil Sands for $6.2 Billion

With the acquisition, Marathon gains a 20% stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP). Click to enlarge. Marathon Oil Corporation, the largest refiner in the US Midwest, is acquiring Canadian oil sands company Western Oil Sands, Inc. in a transaction valued at C$6.5 billion (US$6.2 billion). Under the terms... Read more →


Canadian Companies Developing CO2 Capture with Algae Photo Bioreactor System

Menova’s Power-Spar system. Two Canadian companies, Trident Exploration Corp. and Menova Energy Inc., have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a company that will be part of a consortium developing a new photo-bioreactor system for the capture and recycling of greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated by the processing of petroleum... Read more →