Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


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Graduate Seminar, Dr. Steve Larter


Monday, December 02, 2013


03:00pm - 04:00pm


CPE 2.204


Dr. Steve Larter, Professor of Petroleum Geology at the University of Calgary, will give a talk entiled "Oil Sands and Heavy Oil: Origin, Exploitation, Emissions and Alternative Futures" as part of the Claude R. Hocott Graduate Seminar Series.

Abstract:  Oil sands represent an end member of a global resource consisting of oil reservoirs containing trillions of barrels of viscous, heavily biodegraded oil which are increasingly being produced as energy needs grow worldwide. While emissions related to oil sand use are higher than conventional crude oil use the well to wheel emissions differences are small. Much future oil production from this resource will use energy inefficient steam based recovery processes but there are many exciting possibilities for using biological, or other processes for much cleaner energy recovery within and crucially beyond the oil sands. Politics and market economics mean that it is unlikely new recovery technologies will develop quickly unless innovative business and technology models are introduced, and the one of the most exciting futures for the oil sands sees the resource as a biological one, rather than an energy resource. The oil sands represent the most straightforward access point to the deep biosphere on Earth where we may find many possible biotechnologies and solutions to our growing environmental and human health problems. I describe our research program over the last 15 years where we have discovered the mechanisms of heavy oil formation(MADCOR), the impact of biological activity on oil viscosity gradients and oil production, impacts on existing and future recovery processes and our successful and unsuccessful attempts to commercialise technology from these discoveries.