Government funding for oil sands R&D

Numerous provincially-funded institutes or funding envelopes have been dedicated wholly or in large part to serving the research and technology development (R&D) needs of the fossil fuel industries. A partial list includes the Alberta Research Council, the Alberta Energy Research Institute, its subsidiary, EnergyINet, the Centre for In Situ Energy, the Oil Sands Tailings Research Facility, the Centre for Oil Sands Innovation, the Energy Innovation Fund, Alberta Innovates—Technology Futures, Alberta Innovates—Energy and Environment Solutions, and the Climate Change Emissions Management Fund (now Emissions Reductions Alberta ).

Numerous research chairs in fossil-fuel-related areas of research have been created over the years in Alberta’s post-secondary institutions with funding from federal and provincial granting agencies. Many of these entail industry partnerships, and are targeted to meeting industry-identified R&D needs. A recent example is the creation of the NSERC/NEXEN Energy and CNOOC Ltd. Industrial Research Chair in Advanced In-situ Recovery Processes for Oilsands at the University of Calgary.

The CCEMC (now ERA) has already granted more than $61 million to corporations to test new steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) extraction technologies in the oil sands. It has spent over $26 million on carbon capture and storage projects. The federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund has recently awarded the University of Calgary $75 million over seven years for its Global Research Initiative in Sustainable Low Carbon Unconventional Resources,  and the University of Alberta the same amount for its Future Energy Systems Initiative (FESRI). The Alberta and Canadian governments are each contributing $10 million to the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC). Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) disburses a $50 million Oil and Gas Cleantech Demonstration fund to projects that are also supported by the Government of Alberta. The list of subsidies to the private sector for “clean energy,” and new extraction technologies goes on . . .

Most recently, the Alberta Government has set aside $440 million to subsidize R&D for oil sands technologies. This media statement was released December 5, 2017:

$70 million more announced for “environmentally friendly oilsands technologies,” coming from the ERA budget (May 2018). This includes $10 million for a company run by the former CEO of Shell Canada. No mention is made of GHG emission reductions in this article.