Consider the challenges facing the oil industry this year – rock bottom prices, drought (water shortages), greenhouse gas legislation, new rules regarding First Nations and the stalling of major pipelines – Keystone XL, Northern Gateway to name just two.
This was the comment Bryan Helfenbaum started of the session he was moderating at the World Heavy Oil Congress held in Edmonton Alberta this week. The Manager of Technology Development for Devon Canada asked the panel, “what are the best technologies to invest in, in this climate?”
Alberta Innovates Duke du Plessis says, “improved technology is the key to industry growth. New and emerging technology will continue to lower costs, improve production and improve the industry’s record on the environment.”
Another panel member, John Brogly, the Director for Water at COSIA (Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance) says he has noticed modest reductions in spending on R&D as companies tighten their financial belts.” Brogly added, “there is still a lot of activity but COSIA’s members are being choosier.”
The final member on the panel GE Energy’s Manager of Global Research, Brian Gregg had this point to make, “when it comes to innovation we have to keep planting ideas because they are long term investments.” Having said that Gregg acknowledged, “the industry is very slow at adopting new technology even long after it is proven.”
An organization like COSIA is well placed to advance new technologies because it takes advantage of collaboration among industry leaders. John Brogly says those involved in his group are “able to save time and resources, they don’t repeat the same mistakes and they share costs when it comes to new technology.” This could be key if the industry is to make the best of a trying situation.