Oilsands innovation continues, albeit with some delays
Some research projects deferred, others accelerated as oilpatch weathers economic storm
Research funds remain strong in Alberta's oilsands, although some projects are feeling the bite of low oil prices.
About 250 projects are ongoing, which is is about the same number and value as in previous years, according to Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), which coordinates research for 13 oilsands companies.
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However, oil prices are to blame for delays in construction of one of COSIA's most prominent projects, the Water Technology Development Centre (WTDC).
The economic conditions are extremely, extremely challenging for them- Dan Wicklum, COSIA
The $165-million facility was supposed to open at Suncor's Firebag site, so scientists could test out new equipment and techniques at an operational oilsands plant.
The WTDC was billed as a facility that could speed up the time it takes to test out and implement new water technology, but the project is facing its own timing problem. Instead of opening next year, it's been deferred until 2019.
The decision was made by the six companies which are invested in the proposed facility.
Oilsands companies are committed to finding new technology and working together to find efficiencies, and environmental breakthroughs makes even more sense during a downturn, said Wicklum.
"The economic conditions are extremely, extremely challenging for them," he said. However "All of the messaging I am receiving from companies is grounded in their strong belief that environmental performance is not dependent on the price of oil."
"A significant portion of this money will go to investing with industry on the innovation we all need to reach our common goals," said Phillips.
More details on the additional funding will be unveiled in the province's budget in April, said Phillips.