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The Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) was founded as a not-for-profit organization in 1998. Within two years, PTRC began management of the Weyburn Project, organizing international funding and research to measure and monitor the utilized carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Weyburn oilfield on the Canadian prairie.

“Weyburn was a game changer for how the PTRC approached its research and how we were viewed in the world,” notes Erik Nickel, Director of Operations. “We were able to demonstrate the safety of long-term storage in an oil field and that knowledge has led the company to a position of global leadership on questions of CO2 utilization and storage.”

The PTRC also manages Aquistore, the CO2 deep saline storage project affiliated with SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facility near Estevan. While most of the CO2 captured at Boundary Dam (as much as 2,800 tonnes per day) goes to Weyburn for enhanced oil recovery, about 10 per cent of it is injected at Aquistore.

“Aquistore is the largest field laboratory in the world for the study of CO2 storage in a deep saline reservoir more than 3.2 kilometers underground,” says Zeinab Movahedzadeh, Project Manager for Aquistore. “We’ve injected nearly 400 kilotonnes and have deployed more than 30 monitoring and measurement technologies at the site. It is a living laboratory that is helping us and other storage projects worldwide determine the minimum requirements for assuring the safety of deep storage.”

Student tour of the CO2 pipeline control centre at the Aquistore site.

Another recent PTRC project is reservoir simulation by scientists at the University of Alberta who are exploring the potential of recycling the injected CO2 to surface for the purpose of geothermal energy production. Using CO2 to get heat to the surface faster from deep reservoirs like the Deadwood means that water temperatures remain high enough to run turbines for geothermal electricity generation. CO2 could make deeper heat sources economic for electricity production because less of the valuable heat is lost on the journey to the surface.

“The Deadwood formation, where CO2 has been injected, has brine temperatures near 120°C,” says Nickel. “Because of the depth of the reservoir, using CO2 to get that heat to the surface more quickly than water alone is an intriguing possibility.”

The PTRC has also played an active role in the development of Canadian and international standards for CCS since 2010. PTRC’s Manager of Operations, Matt Nasehi, is the Canadian Vice-Chair of the ISO Committee setting those standards (ISO TC265) and also was involved in the setting of Canadian CCS standards (CSA Z741) in 2012. These standards provide internationally accepted guidelines for design, construction and operation of CCS projects.

How PTRC engages with CRIN

The PTRC joined CRIN in 2019. We use established networking groups within CRIN to develop and expand our research in key areas like geothermal energy and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). We share our non-proprietary results with other CRIN members, particularly those related to reduced energy use and emissions in the heavy oil and hydrocarbon spheres.

The PTRC also plays an active role in CRIN’s Cleaner Fuels and Digital Oil and Gas Themes. Two PTRC-funded projects on artificial intelligence in the oil and gas industry were recently completed and webinars on that research were shared on CRIN’s LinkedIn pages.

The value of CRIN to PTRC

CRIN has helped the PTRC expand its communications reach to other players in the oil and gas industry – both research organizations and industry partners – and to develop more effective field-based and fundamental research emissions reduction projects through those connections.

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Innovation Research Park

Regina, Saskatchewan 



Companies interested in gaining access to our extensive database of research results from our Heavy Oil Research Network (HORNET) or data and findings from our Aquistore CO2 storage project should contact us directly for a one-on-one discussion of membership in either research program.

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