After over a year of very low-key manoeuvering through their privately held subsidiary Sure Northern Energy, Shell finally comes clean with their proposal to use electric heaters to extract bitumen from the limestone-based Grosmont formation, which may host more oil than all the other tar sands combined. If successful, this new "in-situ" method will require massive amounts of electricity convenienty located to the south at the proposed nuclear plants in Peace River and possibly Whitecourt. The perversity of using nukes to heat the earth to extract mock oil is utterly astounding!
- Tarpit Pete
Shell continues to invest in the development of conventional & unconventional energy sources in Canada and is assessing the potential for a new heavy oil project in northern Alberta.
Since acquiring the Grosmont Venture leases in 2006, Shell has been carrying out appraisal and exploration activities, including seismic and drilling, to better understand the resource.
The lease property is situated on the far-west side of the Athabasca oil sands region - approximately 140 km west of Ft. McMurray, and approximately 400 km north of Edmonton.
As part of the Grosmont Venture, Shell is proposing to carry out a pilot to test proprietary in situ technology and verify hydrocarbon resources. The In situ Upgrading Process (IUP) is a bitumen recovery technology developed by Shell that heats the oil sands reservoir with electrical heaters to convert the bitumen into lighter crude oil and gas while still underground. In November 2007, Shell applied for regulatory approval for the “North Field Test” and expects to begin construction in 2009.
The North Field Test is likely to last several years. The primary objectives of this test are to evaluate different heater well designs, directional drilling techniques, deployment methods, drilling rigs, and surface support systems.
Ultimately, it is Shell’s aspiration to design and construct a commercial in situ heavy oil project. The earliest a decision would be made on a commercial development would be early in the next decade, and possibility later depending on the sequence and outcome of research, appraisal and testing activities. Meanwhile, we will continue to pursue further appraisal and testing activities.
Since acquiring the Grosmont Venture leases, Shell has been consulting with Bigstone Cree Nation and local stakeholders. Shell is also continuing studies and local initiatives to ensure Shell's appraisal, testing and development activities are undertaken in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
The Grosmont Venture also includes the Woodenhouse prospect, which consists of approximately 85,000 acres immediately adjacent to the Grosmont leases. Woodenhouse is part of the asset group that Shell acquired from BlackRock Ventures Inc. in 2006.