FAQs

OILSANDS EXPERT - BUSINESS AND TECHNICAL ADVISORS TO THE OIL SANDS


How were your major oilsands initiatives developed?

My original research led to the identification of major problems and opportunities in the oilsands industry. I verified my results in consultation with a few trusted colleagues, and then built consensus within the Syncrude owners' committees - typically the Mining Committee, Technical Committee and Management Committee. Ultimately, agreement was reached with the owners and Syncrude and plans were developed and implemented, with outstanding results.

How significant were your oilsands initiatives?

The new Tax and Royalty terms and the reduction in Operating Expense were instrumental in revitalizing the struggling Alberta oilsands industry, now the mainstay of the Canadian economy. Canada is now the 6th largest oil producer in the world, and the largest foreign supplier of oil to the USA.

I co-initiated the move to new oilsands Corporate Income Tax terms in 1985 and initiated the new Crown Royalty terms in 1988, which resulted in the establishment of the Syncrude Fiscal Terms Task Force. This work was continued by the Oilsands Task Force, which did an outstanding job of building consensus between industry and governments and obtained new fiscal terms for the Alberta oilsands in 1997.

The reduction in unit operating cost to $12 per barrel was due to tight cost control and greatly increased production, which exceeded by ~50% the design basis of the $1.2 billion expansion at Syncrude. This production increase was enabled by the outstanding performance of management and staff at Syncrude. Oilsands is a team sport, and during this period our team performance was truly remarkable.   

What other significant initiatives helped to revitalize the Canadian oilsands industry?
 
The invention of the SAGD process made recovery of the huge in-situ deposits of Athabasca oilsands economic. The credit for this outstanding work belongs to AOSTRA staff and university and corporate experts, who had the courage and foresight to develop this highly innovative oilsands recovery process.

What are some of the problems and opportunities facing the oilsands industry today?

 Problems include:

  • Inappropriate recent changes to oilsands Crown Royalties by the Alberta government.

  • Inappropriate recent changes to Corporate Income Tax terms by the Alberta and Federal governments.

  • Ever-increasing Capital and Operating Costs.

  • Inappropriate government legislation and regulation.

  • Deterioration in global economies, and uncertain future oil prices.

Very low natural gas prices, currently much less than the energy-equivalent price of oil, are also masking poor fundamentals of some in-situ oilsands projects.

Significant opportunities exist where these problems can be resolved. 

What about oilsands environmental concerns?

Many oilsands environmental concerns are wildly overstated by special-interest groups. The facts do not support their hypotheses. A few concerns, however, are real and must be solved.
 
For example, in 1990 I wrote, on the subject of Oilsands Fine Tailings Management:
"Sludge management is an obvious area for sharing of information and expertise between the players in the oilsands industry...
... My expectation is that ultimately, solid landscapes will be required and we should be working diligently to this end."

Despite decades of sincere and costly effort by the oilsands industry, fine tailings management remains a significant issue that is yet to be fully resolved.

Why did you include all the Letters of Reference?

The Letters of Reference provide credible proof that the success claims made in this website are true and are not overstated.

Many highly capable people had a role in achieving these successes. We conceived, developed and initiated them.  

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