The application of next-generation oil recovery technology at Imperial’s Cold Lake in-situ operations, improvements in reliability at its Kearl mining facility and continuous improvements in energy efficiency are expected to be key drivers behind the GHG emissions intensity reductions.  Imperial photo.

Imperial hopes to cut GHG emissions intensity by 10 per cent by 2023

On Tuesday, Imperial announced that it plans to apply advanced technologies and improvements in efficiency to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of its operated oil sands facilities.

The company says its plans build on a longstanding commitment to improve the environmental footprint and economics of production associated with its oil sands operations.

In 2016, Imperial opened a new, state-of-the-art research centre dedicated to advancing oil sands innovation.

The new facility, located in southeast Calgary, is home to a team of researchers pursuing technological breakthroughs that will deliver significant environmental and economic benefits for the company’s oil sands operations.

“We are accelerating the pace of our innovation and applying technologies with the goal of delivering industry-leading environmental and economic performance,” said Rich Kruger, Imperial chairman, president and chief executive officer.

“We see high potential for commercializing game-changing technologies we’ve been developing, which should not only lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and water use, but also greatly enhance the economics of our operations.”

The application of next-generation oil recovery technology at Imperial’s Cold Lake in-situ operations, improvements in reliability at its Kearl mining facility and continuous improvements in energy efficiency are expected to be key drivers behind the reductions, which are anticipated to result in a 10 per cent decrease in GHG emissions intensity by 2023, compared with 2016 levels.

Imperial expects to achieve even greater reductions through the application of step-change in-situ oil recovery technology at its proposed Aspen oil sands project, which is currently under regulatory review.

The new technology, solvent-assisted steam-assisted gravity drainage, could reduce both GHG emissions intensity and water use intensity by up to 25 per cent through lower energy utilization per barrel, compared with traditional steam-assisted gravity drainage technology.

Following a successful $100 million, multi-year pilot at its Cold Lake facility, Imperial is also evaluating the first commercial application of its breakthrough cyclic solvent process, which could virtually eliminate the use of steam and reduce emissions intensity up to 90 per cent in certain areas of the company’s Cold Lake field.

Imperial has long fostered a culture of innovation and has played a leading role in oil sands research and development.

Over the past 20 years, Imperial has invested more than $2.1 billion in research and technology development, much of which has been focused on advancing oil sands recovery technologies designed to improve environmental and economic performance.

Imperial also benefits from access to global expertise gained from ExxonMobil’s annual investment of about $1 billion a year that is dedicated to research and development.

Through Imperial’s relationship with ExxonMobil, the company is also exploring advanced biofuels as well as carbon capture and storage. ExxonMobil is at the forefront of developing these technologies, many of which can play significant roles in a lower-carbon future.