13 April 2016
Canada’s petroleum resources have been a source of wealth for decades. How long will their role as an engine of the economy continue? The resource is truly world-scale, so the business-as-usual answer is “well into the next century.” In a carbon constrained and low oil price world, the answer is “not very long at all.” Citizens of a fossil-fuel-rich country which also features the longest coastline in the world have good reason to be unhappy with both answers. Dr. Bryant offers another answer: “as long as we want – but you won’t even recognize it as the oil industry.” To support this answer, he describes recent results with surface-treated and functional-core nanoparticles which in the short term could reduce the environmental impact of current technologies for petroleum production, especially from the oilsands. For the long term, he and others are exploring methods to convert the chemical energy in petroleum molecules to other energy carriers that contain no carbon. The goal is to perform this conversion within the reservoir, produce the zero-carbon carriers to surface and leave oxidized carbon trapped in the reservoir.
About Dr. Steven Bryant, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs, University of Calgary
Steven Bryant joined the University of Calgary as the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Materials Engineering for Unconventional Oil Reservoirs and Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering. He is the university’s first CERC and went there after the university was granted a so-called “hunting licence” to scour the globe for an energy researcher who would complete an already robust team of heavy oil and oilsands researchers. Steven will lead and co-ordinate nanotechnology and materials science research at the University of Calgary, and the integrated team of researchers from across campus who will aim to drastically change how the oilsands are developed. Before accepting this position, he was at the University of Texas at Austin, as Bank of America Centennial Professor in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, and directed the Geological CO2 Storage Joint Industry Project and the Nanoparticles for Subsurface Engineering Industrial Affiliates Program. Steven pioneered the fields of digital petrophysics and nanoparticles for engineering applications, and has made some of the most significant advances in the past 20 years in porous media modeling, reactive transport theory and CO2 sequestration. Steven has published more than 280 times in books, book chapters, peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings on applications in production engineering, reservoir engineering and formation evaluation. Over his career, Bryant has led major research initiatives involving industry partnerships and trained over 90 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who found positions in several of the largest energy companies and national laboratories. Visit Dr. Bryant's CERC page.