by Franklin L. Foster, Ph.D.
"It’s our intention to be a full partner, with industry, in making Lloydminster a world-class centre of education relating to Heavy Oil," says Donna Lewis, Vice-President of Lakeland College. While the College has had a variety of programs previously, including a popular Heavy Oil Operator Technician program, Lewis is excited about two pre-conference short courses to be held at Lakeland College in conjunction with the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show in September. "The courses are pilot offerings for a wide range of educational opportunities specific to heavy oil," says Chris Wallin of Wascana Energy, one of the industry partners organizing the short courses.
Each course will be a one-day offering, running from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. On September 14, 1998, John Newman of Ranger Oil will conduct a course on "Produced Sand Management". "I believe we’re long overdue," says Newman, "in offering such courses locally and specific to the needs of people in Heavy Oil." Sand management is an important current topic as new technologies such as progressive cavity pumps are producing more oil but also producing more sand. Newman will provide an overview of the problems and solutions relating to the disposal of produced sand which will be useful to both managers and technical staff. One of the current trends is to move beyond mere disposal toward recycled uses of the sand. "Some new companies are cleaning the sand and recycling it as a building material or industrial mineral," says Newman.
On September 15, "Heavy Oil Production Engineering" will be offered. Wallin is organizing this course and recruiting an instructor. The course will be aimed at discussing the similarities and differences in oil production across a region from Elk Point to Plover Lake. Anyone new to Heavy Oil will find the course particularly eye-opening. "We defy some of the standard theories," says Wallin. "The textbooks say you can’t waterflood oil and yet we do it all the time in heavy oil." Even more startling for a newcomer to heavy oil is Wallin’s maxim, "Sand is our friend." It is the sand that contains the oil and now that it’s possible to literally pump sand, the sand allows much large recovery of oil reserves than previously.
Educational opportunities will continue in the two following days, September 16 and 17. While the Heavy Oil Show is in progress at the Lloydminster Exhibition grounds, Lakeland College will also host the 1998 CIM Heavy Oil Technical Symposium. This increasingly popular event will feature eight speakers and two panel discussions. [For more details, check out the website at http://www.LloydminsterHeavyOil.com/cim98.htm] Even the hugely popular Heavy Oil Show itself is an educational experience bringing the latest innovations to the public and drawing a who’s-who of heavy oil insiders to exchange news and views.
Why this increased importance of education? As with every other industry, so with Heavy Oil, information is becoming the key element of business success. Recognition of this has prompted these events, all aimed at speeding the transfer of information and creating more formal and in-depth educational experiences. In an earlier issue, we described the plans for the OTS Heavy Oil Science Centre to be a state-of-the-art facility with learning opportunities enhanced by multi-media, inter-activity and computer simulations in ways which will be entertaining and inspiring to all visitors and also useful to those in the industry. The Centre’s associated web-site will be an integral part of this effort, providing rapid communication of R&D findings and product and process innovations as well as links to all the players on the Heavy Oil field.
In short, the "lease" has already been prepared and we are now "spudding in" to a new era in the development of heavy oil. In this new era, the expertise of Lakeland College and the skills of web site developers and interactive display designers are joining together with the more traditional skills of the oil patch to foster even more growth and innovation in that key sector of the petroleum industry known as Heavy Oil.