Technical Tour Program

Tech Tours

WPC Canada will offer a comprehensive technical tour program featuring areas of active investment and growth in Canada’s petroleum industry. Tours will include Canada’s oil sands region in northern Alberta and conventional operations in Western Canada. These tours will feature developments of some of Canada’s leading petroleum producers, and will highlight the rapid continuous improvement in cost structures, resource recovery, and environmental performance being achieved through the deployment of cutting-edge technologies.


Tours will be offered to the Fort McMurray region of northeastern Alberta, where over three million barrels per day of production is currently being achieved. The oil sands can be recovered by two primary methods: mining for the 20 percent of the resource less than 70 metres (200 feet) below the surface, and in situ (Latin for “in place”) for the 80 percent of the resource that lies deeper than 70 metres below the surface.

North of Fort McMurray there are several world-scale mines that produce bitumen from the oil sands, including mines operated by Syncrude, Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources and Imperial Resources. This region experiences long summer days with temperatures often above 30 degrees Celsius, and very short winter days and long winter nights, with temperatures often below 30 degrees Celsius. Construction, maintenance, and operating activities are carried out around the clock every day of the year despite the wide range of weather conditions. Several of these mines process the bitumen into synthetic crude oil on site at world-scale upgraders.


Tours will highlight:

• Regulatory requirements for development and operations
• Resource quality, mine planning, and mining efficiency and technology innovations to reduce costs
• Tailings management and mine reclamation requirements
• Upgrading technologies, product quality and product market dynamics


Canada has vast shale resources currently being developed in western Alberta and northern British Columbia. These areas are in the foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains with two of the primary plays being the Duvernay and the Montney formations. A range of companies are actively developing these resources, from emerging independent Canadian producers to large Canadian-based producers though super-majors and national oil companies.

Employing the latest drilling, completion, and fracking technologies, these companies are continuing to drive down costs,  improve environmental performance and improve resource recovery. Much of the resource is liquids-rich natural gas. In Canada here is a high demand for condensate to use as a diluent for bitumen produced in the oil sands to achieve a viscosity to enable it to be moved to market by pipeline, providing a natural synergy between the two resource development plays.


Tours will highlight:

• Advances in drilling technologies, including rig design and automation, multi-hole well pads and reductions in land use
• Advances in fracking technology
• Advances in surface processing technology
• Mid-stream and pipeline infrastructure
• Product market developments in North America
• Opportunities for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development on British Columbia’s west coast and for petrochemical development in Alberta to take full advantage of the abundant resources

In both tours broader topics will be
addressed such as:

• Technology innovations to reduce energy use and cost and improve environmental performance
• Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 31% per barrel between 1990 and 2014
• Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), in which participating oil sands producers share innovations in four environmental priority areas: tailings, water, land and greenhouse gases. COSIA companies have shared over 981 distinct technologies and innovations that cost $1.4 billion to develop
• Local stakeholder engagement strategies, particularly those dealing with local indigenous stakeholders
• Over $8 billion of revenue has been earned by indigenous companies through working relationships with the oil sands industry over a 14-year period, and over 1,700 indigenous employees are in permanent jobs in the oil sands industry 


Where the oil sands are too deep to mine, projects employ well-based technologies to mobilize the bitumen so it can be pumped
to the surface. Many of these projects employ a technology call Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), which uses two parallel horizontal wells spaced five metres apart, with horizontal sections stretching up to a kilometre from the well pad.

Tours will highlight:

• The continuing evolution of reservoir management to improve the efficiency of steam delivery and emulsion production
• Multi-well pad design to minimize surface footprints
• Drilling advances to improve accuracy and reduce costs
• Technology innovations, including the introduction of solvents to reduce steam requirements