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Unlocking the oil sands

Submitted by admin on Fri, 10/20/2006 - 9:44am

The late Dr. Roger Butler, Schulich School of Engineering

U of C Wealth Creation: fueling a potential $9trillion

Alberta’s oil sands give Canada the number two position, after Saudi Arabia, in terms of global reserves of proven reserves of oil/gas. It’s here that one of U of C’s most significant research ventures is impacting industry and generating wealth.

The Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) bitumen-extraction process, developed through the research of the U of C’s Dr. Roger Butler, will be used to access 176 billion barrels of the estimated 600 billion barrels of oil in the Athabasca oil sands.

Natural riches

Currently 176 billion barrels of oil are proven accessible and 330 billion barrels estimated recoverable (right?) using current technology. At today’s price of $50 per barrel, this represents a significant $16.5trillion in revenue that can be generated by the oil and gas industry, with a large contribution due to the late Dr. Butler’s innovation.

‘Father of Invention’

Dr. Butler, previously of the Schulich School of Engineering, is remembered as the ‘Father of Invention’ in recognition of this process development and other important creations. Committed to the application of horizontal wells, Dr. Butler also developed variations of SAGD including SAGP (Steam And Gas Push); he invented VAPEX, a gravity-drainage process that uses vapourized solvents rather than steam to produce heavy oil. It is these types of innovations that fuel ongoing opportunities for wealth creation.

As Professor Emeritus, Schulich School of Engineering, Dr. Butler was a key contributor to the outstanding work originating from this faculty. Highly published, and a distinguished lecturer for the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Dr. Butler occupied the Endowed Chair of Petroleum Engineering (1983 –1995).

SCHULICH School of Engineering: A cornerstone of research

The Schulich School of Engineering is historically a cornerstone of our research activity. It boasts a series of active industrial collaborations; it typifies Research in Action.

Unlocking the oil sands

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