November 8, 2004

Imperial contributes $10M to create U of A oil sands research centre

Imperial Oil will contribute $10 million over the next five years to establish the Imperial Oil Centre for Oil Sands Innovation, a new research facility at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. This represents the largest investment the company has ever made in a university, and is the largest single corporate cash commitment ever received by the university's Faculty of Engineering.

Administered by the Faculty of Engineering, The Imperial Oil Centre's mandate will be to find more efficient, economically viable, and environmentally responsible ways to develop Canada's oil sands resources, one of the largest crude oil deposits in the world.

In announcing the contribution, Imperial chairman, president and CEO Tim Hearn emphasized the strong link between science and technology with business and environmental improvement. "For Imperial, this contribution is an investment in Canadian education and intellectual capacity to develop a vital energy resource, both economically and with care for the environment," he said.

The centre will be dedicated to the development of new energy-efficient and environmentally-responsible technologies for the integrated production and upgrading of Alberta's oil sands resources (including coke, resid, and asphaltene materials) to provide clean energy and value-added products. It will build on existing expertise and innovative research on the fundamental properties, production and upgrading of oil sands, proof-of-concept studies on new process alternatives and products, and development of methods to optimize integration of resource recovery and processing to provide clean energy, and value-added products while minimizing environmental impact.

Examples of activities include:

*research on chemistry, thermodynamics, and interfacial properties of bitumen to support new technologies for in situ and in pit production, separation of desirable and undesirable components, new processing pathways, and sensors to monitor process operation;

*new approaches to separation and catalytic conversion of components from bitumen, based on nanostructured materials, to add value by producing clean fuels and petrochemical products;

*gasification of bitumen with an emphasis on novel approaches that support integration with production and upgrading; and

*new methods for analyzing production and upgrading of bitumen from oil sands to allow the rational design of integrated processes. Like life-cycle analysis for manufactured products, these methods will consider all aspects of the utilization of the natural resources.

More information is available from Sherrell Steele at UA's Faculty of Engineering, 780/492-4514, or Richard O'Farrell at Imperial Oil, 416/968-4875.

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