September 16, 2005

$500,000 contribution to Ingenuity research centre paves the way for future investment in U of C’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy.

Growing demand for energy is making cutting-edge petroleum research a priority for Shell International, which is teaming up with University of Calgary scientists to find new ways of fuelling the world into the future. With an initial research investment of $500,000, Shell becomes the founding industry member of the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for In Situ Energy, based in the U of C’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE).

The contribution will fund research into finding cleaner and more efficient ways of developing and producing bitumen and heavy oil. Supporting the centre’s work on improving the recovery and upgrading of bitumen reserves is an important part of Shell’s plan to bolster its involvement in collaborative research that can be applied internationally and promises to revolutionize the world’s energy supply.

“We want to find new ways of developing oil sands sustainably by accessing expertise worldwide and there are opportunities for that here at U of C,” said John Darley, Shell International’s Vice-President of EP Technology. “ISEEE provides us with an umbrella for the investment we want to make in this kind of research, beginning with the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for In Situ Energy, because it has a number of projects we’re interested in.”

The contribution will help the U of C pursue its goal of becoming a world leader in finding new ways to meet the world’s growing energy demand responsibly. It could also benefit Alberta and Canada’s long-term prosperity, since a one per cent increase in oil sands recovery and upgrading amounts to $26 billion in GDP, $10 billion in labour income for families and almost $3 billion in revenues for government.

The long-term goal of the Ingenuity Centre is to create “underground refineries” by finding ways to separate the thick crude oil known as bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands while it is still in the ground. So called “in situ” recovery brings only the valuable energy products to the surface while unwanted byproducts such as heavy metals, sulphur, coke and carbon dioxide would be permanently left underground.

“The University of Calgary’s commitment, made in our Academic Plan, is to build on our excellence to become an international leader in energy and environment research, education and innovation. Shell’s investment in U of C, and the resources we are dedicating to this initiative, will help us deliver on that commitment,” U of C President Dr. Harvey Weingarten said. “There are tremendous and urgent challenges and opportunities in energy, environment and economy. Shell’s leadership in investing in the University of Calgary, ISEEE and the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for In Situ Energy will help us face those challenges and unlock those opportunities,” Weingarten said.

Shell International and ISEEE signed a memorandum of understanding today to begin a long-term collaboration on research, beginning with the work taking place at the Alberta Ingenuity research centre.

The agreement is the perfect example of how the private sector can team up with university and government scientists to achieve common goals, said ISEEE director Dr. Robert Mansell.

“We expect this research will translate into cleaner and more efficient recovery and upgrading of much ofAlberta’s immense oil sands and heavy oil resources.”

“Shell’s significant investment is the first step towards a much larger partnership between ISEEE and Shell – a partnership focused on developing people, knowledge and technologies for secure, competitive energy, a clean environment and a strong economy for current and future generations.”

ISEEE was established in 2003 to coordinate energy and environment-related initiatives at the University and to lead interdisciplinary research and education at a local, national and international level.

Alberta Ingenuity’s Board Chair Alvin Libin said the grant is an important step towards creating lasting scientific partnerships.

“Shell's commitment to the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for In Situ Energy clearly shows that what we're doing here matters to the future of our energy industry," Libin said. "This is an important milestone for the Ingenuity Centre in its growth as an innovative research program that will produce concrete advances for sustainable energy well into the future."

Shell plans to continue its support of ISEEE by funding specific research projects, supporting graduate students and sponsoring research chairs in various energy and environment-related fields. “We are hoping to watch this grow and become a long-term partnership that will build bridges between industry, government and academic research,” said Tim Bancroft, Vice-President of Sustainable Development, Technology and Public Affairs for Shell Canada Limited. “We hope this will help kick-start new research on producing oil, natural gas and bitumen in a safe, responsible, sustainable way.”

Dr. Pedro Pereira-Almao, a petroleum engineering professor and co-director of the Ingenuity Centre, said Shell’s funding will support key research into the developing new ways of recovering energy from the oil sands with less pollution and environmental impacts.

“This contribution demonstrates a sharing of pioneering vision towards research and development in sustainable in situ recovery and upgrading of heavy oils and bitumen in the reservoir,” Pereira-Almao said. “This $500,000 will serve as seed funds for innovations in catalysis, reservoir geoscience and subsurface engineering.”



Media contacts:

Grady Semmens
Media Relations Advisor - Research
University of Calgary
Phone: (403) 220-7722
Cell: (403) 651-2515

Margaret Sparkes
Communications Advisor
Shell Canada Ltd.
Phone: (403) 691-2144