Energy Ink

General Electric expands oil sands business

March 14, 2012

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General Electric said today that its wastewater evaporation technology has been selected for use at a Fort McMurray-area in situ oil sands operation.

The technology works in concert with once-through steam generators to reduce the volume of liquid waste from a facility plus increase the volume of boiler feed water available for steam generation. (Elsewhere, researchers are using once-through steam generators, or OTSGs for short, in an effort to reduce the costs of capturing carbon dioxide at in situ extraction sites, now widely expected to be the sector’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions growth).

GE did not disclose the operator, but the firm says similar technology is in use at 14 separate steam-assisted gravity drainage projects to date. (An e-mail to Suncor has not been returned; Cenovus spokesman Reg Curren said his firm wasn’t involved).

“We are aligning our businesses to best meet the needs of Canada’s oil sands industry by offering more energy and water efficient products and services,” Jeff Connelly, vice-president, engineered systems, water and process technologies for GE Power & Water, said in a statement.

Indeed, company CEO Jeffrey Immelt indicated at an energy conference in Houston last week that oil and gas represents a significant growth opportunity for his firm. “This is a big dog for us,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

The executive was referring specifically to the company’s growing business in the Houston area. But it has also beefed up its Alberta presence. The firm is involved in a wide array of oil sands-related research, and recently opened a Global Heavy Oil Centre of Excellence in Calgary.

Alberta Oil assistant editor Steve Macleod reported in February that the center would be dedicated solely to developing innovative ways of producing and upgrading heavy oil. Read his article here.

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