Good morning ladies and gentlemen.

In reading through the CIM/AOSTRA conference material, in preparation for my presentation today, I was struck by how relevant so many of the topics are to what's current happening in the oilsands industry.

Even the theme of the conference itself "Our Energy Future" - is eerily close to the vision statement my company drafted last year - to help secure Canada's energy future.

And my topic for today - "The Role of Technology in Oilsands Development" will reveal much of the work that we are currently undertaking at Canada's largest oilsands operation.

Stephen Leacock, a Canadian humourist and economist once said that "the true distinction between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom is that man is the animal that uses oil." And we use a lot of it.

In Canada, as in the rest of the world, demand for oil is continuing to rise, while reserves of conventional crude are declining. What that means, in my opinion, is that from 1995 onward, the synthetic crude oil we produce from the oilsands will become more and more critical to Canada's economy and energy security.

Now, I know that there are some who do not share that opinion, nor do they believe that securing Canada's energy future is a goal worth striving for.

And perhaps in an ideal world, where we are not dependent upon oil but have a wide range of energy sources to draw from, and national boundaries and world politics ensure the flow of resources to those countries when and where they need it - in that kind of world secure domestic energy supply would not be important. But until we achieve the ideal, I believe that securing Canada's energy future is a critical goal for Canada, and one way of realizing it is to continue to develop the oilsands.

In 1990, Syncrude Canada Ltd produced a record 57 million barrels of oil, which represents over 10 percent of Canada's total oil requirements and in February of 1991 we reached another milestone 500 million barrels produced in a 12-year period.

Although that volume of oil has been produced before - for example, from the Pembina and Redwater oil fields - it took over twice as long to do it.

The oilsands also represent the largest single source of oil in the nation. Inplace reserves in the Athabasca Region, mineable with today's technology, stand at almost 200 billion barrels, and estimates of in-situ reserves go beyond 1000 billion.

Whether we continue to develop the oilsands is, in my mind, dependent upon three things: industry performance; political vision; and pushing the limits of what technology can accomplish.

Government can also playa critical role in the policy area. With the long lead times required for successful oil sands development, developers need to be confident that the ground rules won't change midstream. For example, if halfway through building an oil sands plant, the government changed and so did the policies that supported that development - the result could be financial catastrophe.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.