Saskatoon

New Pipe Flow Technology Centre to research oil extraction

The Saskatchewan Research Council unveiled a multi-million dollar facility in Saskatoon today to research new ways to increase and more efficiently extract oil from the ground.

Saskatoon project costs more than $3,100,000

Inside the Pipe Flow Technology Centre. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Research Council unveiled a multi-million dollar facility in Saskatoon today to research ways to increase and more efficiently extract oil from the ground.

The Pipe Flow Technology Centre is one of Canada's first research facilities set up to test conditions of volatile materials. 

Dr. Laurier Schramm, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Research Council, at the launch of the Pipe Flow Technology Centre. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)
It is also the first time in the world that a facility has been created to allow full-scale physical modelling of complex pipe flow behaviours of slurries and crude oil mixtures. Pipe flow conditions can be controlled and studied based on temperature, flow rate and mixture composition.

The province said the centre will be able to help the oil and gas industry enhance oil recovery, reduce operating costs and improve processes.

"New technology is needed to actually get all of the oil out," said Dr. Laurier Schramm, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Research Council.

According to Schramm the mining industry wants to use thermal methods for oil extraction that would incorporate steam and solvents. However, the technology doesn't exist yet and experts say this research centre could help create it.

"We know where most of the oil is in Saskatchewan and Alberta. But getting it out of the ground is another matter. Current technologies are only achieving about a 30 per cent recovery of the oil that is actually there."

Federal and provincial governments jointly invested $1,730,000 and the SRC contributed $1,460,000. 

Exploiting Saskatchewan's oil sands

Schramm said that there are many different research capabilities that the site has, including developing new methods that would make it easier for companies to mine the province's oil sands.

"The work we do here will help unlock Saskatchewan's oil sands which have no yet been commercialized at all," he said. "That's another benefit that will be peculiar to Saskatchewan."

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