Canada Oil Sands Continue to Gain Global Attention
Canada holds the largest crude oil deposits outside the Middle East, most of which are in the form of oil sands, and are expected to play a major role in supplying the world’s future energy requirements, states a new report by energy experts GlobalData.
The new research states that Canada is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of proved oil reserves, with 175.2 billion barrels (bbl) of proved oil reserves at the end of 2011, out of which 169.2 billion bbl of reserves were available as oil sands. Development of the oil sands industry in Canada will continue to be spurred on by the continuous growth of global oil demand and high crude oil prices, as oil sands projects once seen as economically unviable are now being considered profitable. The favorable business and political climate in Canada, and continuous technological advancements are also set to support industry growth.
Oil sands are essentially bitumen, an extra-heavy crude oil, mixed with sand, water, and clay, or other minerals. Bitumen is so viscous that it cannot be pumped or flow without heating or dilution, and needs treatment before undergoing processing in refineries.
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Production from the Canadian oil sands industry is expected to increase in the future, due to the start of new projects, and the development of technologies which will enable enhanced oil sands processing. Substantial financial activity is taking place in the market, with several companies making investments. The industry also saw the announcement of a significant acquisition in 2012 – the acquisition of Nexen Inc by China’s CNOOC Ltd for $15.1 billion – which reflected a global interest held in Canada’s unconventional oil assets. Syncrude, the largest oil sands project in Canada, is also expected to undergo expansion by 2018, and Fort Hills is one of the largest planned oil sands projects, with a capacity to produce 160,000bbl/d by 2016.
The huge oil sands reserves in Canada will contribute towards global energy security. Canada is already the largest supplier of crude oil and petroleum products to the US, accounting for nearly 25% of US crude oil and petroleum imports in 2011. International Oil Companies (IOCs) can currently access only one in six barrels of the world’s known oil reserves, and approximately half of these reserves are available in Canada as oil sands deposits. Canada therefore could play a substantial role in ensuring future global energy security.
However, the development of oil sands in Canada is attracting criticism due to several issues such as high water use and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
The oil sands industry in Canada produced approximately 408.2 million barrels (MMbbl) of bitumen and synthetic crude in 2006, growing at an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of 7.1% to reach 581.9 MMbbl in 2011. Production is expected to increase to 1,157.8 MMbbl by 2020.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.