Program ID: Innovation Anthology #203
Program Date: 02/18/2009
Program Category: Energy, Engineering, Natural Resources
Bitumen Extraction from Carbonates
Back in the 1920’s, Dr. Karl Clark’s invention of hot water separation paved the way for today’s development of the Alberta’s oil sands.
Now scientists like Roy Coates at the Alberta Research Council are following in Clark’s footsteps as they look for new technologies to remove that sticky bitumen from solid rock or carbonate formations.
ROY COATES: That’s right. It’s almost like starting at the beginning when we started looking at research on oil sands. We’re starting off looking at characterizing what the carbonate reservoir is, trying to understand what they look like, and then getting an idea of what sort of recovery processes we could probably use on them.
Bitumen in carbonate formations lies too deep to surface mine like oil sands. And as Roy Coates explains, it’s too thick to gush out of the ground.
ROY COATES: It is a bitumen. It doesn’t flow naturally. You have to heat it or do something to it to make it flow. So initially we’re looking at can we apply the same sort of processes which we’re using in oil sand in carbonates? So that will be the first thing that we’ll be looking at. Of course we also have some novel ideas we’ll also be looking at.
That was engineer Roy Coates.
Thanks today to the Alberta Research Council
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I'M CHERYL CROUCHER