With all the doom and gloom in the economy and the increasing angst around oil sands development there is still some good news coming out that is worth celebrating.
Nexen Inc. is an integrated, innovative and award winning Canadian energy company. It is involved in the Alberta oil sands, amongst other endeavours all over the globe. So here is the good news. They have just produced the first barrel of Premium Sweet Crude from their Upgrader at their Long Lake oil sands project.
On the face of this news, one could say “big deal” but it is. They have now proven that a new oil sands technology can work to scale that is both good for the environment and the corporate bottom line - at the same time. They have the Long Lake project now in production with a target of 60,000 barrels per day. They also upgrade the bitumen on site with a facility that uses this new environmentally responsible technology.
What the Nexen Long Lake project does is use some oil sands waste from their SAGD operations and they convert it into a synthetic natural gas that they use as a heat source in further oil sands production. This means less waste but also means they don’t need as much conventional natural gas to operate their plant. Using conventional natural gas for bitumen extraction has been described in the past as using "gold to mine lead." This new technology creates a "synthetic gold" if you will allow me to mangle the metaphor.
We need to see more energy companies show this kind of leadership and responsibility as we move forward to provide safe, secure reliable energy as well as RESPONSIBLE and SUSTAINABLE oil sands development.
Well done Nexen. Keep up the good work.