Technical Tours

Technical Tours and Presentations

WPC-Canada intends to offer a comprehensive technical tour program featuring areas of active investment and growth in Canada’s petroleum industry. Tours will be offered to Canada’s oil sands region in northern Alberta, as well as to its vast shale resources in northern British Columbia and western Alberta. These tours will feature developments of some of Canada’s leading petroleum producers, and will highlight the rapid continuous improvement in cost structures, resource recovery, and environmental performance being achieved through the deployment of cutting edge technologies.

Oil Sands Tour

Tours will be offered to the Fort McMurray region of north eastern Alberta, where over 2 million barrels per day of production is currently being achieved. The oil sands can be recovered by two primary methods: mining for the 20% of the resource less than 70 metres (200 feet) below the surface; and in situ (Latin for “in place”) for the 80% of the resource that lies deeper than 70 metres below the surface.

North of Fort McMurray there are several world scale mines the produce bitumen from the oil sands, including mines operated by Syncrude, Suncor, Shell, Canadian Natural Resources and Imperial Resources. This region experiences long summer days with temperatures often above 30 degrees Celsius, and very short winter days/long winter nights with temperatures often below 30 degrees Celsius. Construction, maintenance and operating activities are carried out around the clock every day of the year despite the wide range of weather conditions. Several of these mines process the bitumen into synthetic crude oil on site at world scale upgraders.

Tours will highlight:

  • Regulatory requirements for development and operations
  • Resource quality, mine planning and mining efficiency and technology innovations to reduce costs
  • Tailings management and mine reclamation requirements
  • Upgrading technologies, product quality and product market dynamics

Where the oil sands are too deep to mine, projects employ well based technologies to mobilize the bitumen so it can be pumped to the surface. Many of these projects employ a technology call Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), which uses two parallel horizontal wells spaced five metres above/below one another with horizontal sections stretching up to a kilometre from the well pad.

Tours will highlight:

  • The continuing evolution of reservoir management to improve the efficiency of steam delivery and emulsion production
  • Multi-well pad design to minimize surface footprints
  • Drilling advances to improve accuracy and reduce costs
  • Technology innovations, including the introduction of solvents to reduce steam requirements

In both tours broader topics will be addressed such as:

  • Technology innovations to reduce energy use and cost and improve environmental performance
    • Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 26% per barrel between 1990 and 2011
    • Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) where participating oil sands producers share innovations in four environmental priority areas – tailings, water, land and greenhouse gasses. COSIA companies have already shared over 560 distinct technologies and innovations that cost over $900 million to develop.
  • Local stakeholder engagement strategies, particularly those dealing with local aboriginal stakeholders.
    • Over $8 billion of revenue has been earned by aboriginal companies through working relationships with the oil sands industry over a 14 year period, and over 1,700 aboriginal employees are in permanent jobs in the oil sands industry.

Shale Resources

Canada has vast shale resources currently being developed in western Alberta and northern British Columbia. These areas are in the foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains with two of the primary plays being the Duvernay and the Montney. A range of companies are actively developing these resources, from emerging independent Canadian producers to large Canadian based producers though super-majors and national oil companies. Employing the latest drilling, completion, and fracing technologies these companies are continuing to drive down costs, improve environmental performance and improve resource recovery. Much of the resource is liquids rich natural gas, and in Canada there is a high demand for condensate to use as a diluent for bitumen produced in the oil sands to achieve a viscosity to enable it to be moved to market by pipeline, providing a natural synergy between the two resource development plays.

Tours will highlight:

  • Advances in drilling technologies, including rig design and automation, multi-hole well pads and reductions in land use
  • Advances in fracing technology
  • Advances in surface processing technology
  • Mid-stream and pipeline infrastructure
  • Product market developments in North America
  • Opportunities for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development on British Columbia’s west coast and for petrochemical development in Alberta to take full advantage of the abundant resources.