Summit Topics

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Oil Sands Innovation Summit 2018 will put the spotlight on the very latest research, collaboration and innovation happening in Canada's resource sector. Some of the best minds from industry, academia, engineering and technology providers and government will present their ideas, progress and results in the areas of greenhouse gas reduction, land and water improvements and tailings management.

Sessions explore research and project results in:


Presentations relating to this topic will review how managing key species while addressing social and environmental requirements for land development helps industry continue to better understand population and habitat dynamics of a variety of species in the boreal forest. These dynamics are often influenced by natural processes such as wildfire and insect infestation, in addition to human population growth, recreational land use and industrial development (forestry, agriculture, energy).


The Species at Risk Act and Alberta's Wildlife Act identify Woodland Caribou as a threatened species in Alberta. A combination of habitat restoration and population management tools are being used and developed by industry, academia and government to address the decreasing number of caribou in each of the herds in Alberta. This topic will explore the context, tools and path forward for stakeholders.


In Situ Oil Sands development and operations disturb land from its natural state. Operators continuously evaluate and implement new technologies and techniques to reduce the amount of land that is disturbed for oil sands activities. Practices to reduce land use intensity for in situ projects will be highlighted.

Uplands, Soil and Vegetation

Oil sands producers work to ensure the land’s capability after development is equivalent to pre-development. Presentations on this topic will highlight reconstruction of landforms using natural and modified materials (including tailings), re-establishment of hydrologic processes, and modification of the land surface with land forming techniques, soil covers and re-vegetation strategies.


Wetlands play a critical role is the establishment of a functional reconstructed landscape by providing functions (e.g., hydrologic) and supporting biodiversity. This topic recognizes the physical and chemical aspects of the reconstructed landscape and the role of water within the landscape to influence the surface of the land. It may also delve into the subjects of understanding reference boreal systems, developing watershed modelling tools and approaches, and supporting the establishment of functioning upland, wetland and lake systems.

Greenhouse Gases
CO2 Capture Technology

Oil sands producers are seeking breakthrough technologies that significantly lower the cost of post- and pre-combustion CO2 capture. COSIA’s CO2 Capture Challenge describes the solution being sought. This topic is intended to include technology developers making significant advancements, as well as emerging technologies.

GHG Area Fugitives from Tailings Ponds and Mine Face

Emissions from oil sands tailings ponds and mines are difficult to measure, leading to uncertainty in the associated GHG emission assertions. This topic is intended to cover technologies described in COSIA’s Area Fugitive Quantification Challenge, which seeks transformative, cost-effective, technologies to accurately quantify area fugitive greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands tailings ponds and mines.

Mining Technologies to Reduce GHGs

Mineable oil sands currently use a truck-and-shovel approach to remove near-surface bitumen. Alternatives to ore handling (and materials, such as overburden) are sought, as well as opportunities to reduce GHG emissions from the mobile fleet activities and extraction processes. Current initiatives underway, such as improving haul truck efficiency and advancements in the ARCTIC Challenge Sprint to optimize hot water production are of interest for this topic.

In Situ Optimization and Novel Steam Production Technologies

Between now and 2030, oil sands in situ production is expected to increase presenting a significant opportunity to improve the design of in situ facilities and lower the energy intensity (steam-oil-ratio reduction) and carbon emissions through decreasing steam use or increasing recovery. Best practices as well as new approaches and technologies will be shared. Results of a recent study seeking low cost, high efficiency novel steam generation systems are of interest as well as other opportunities to increase the efficiency of a facility, such as burner technology advancements.

CO2 Conversion

Oil sands operations are remote and use natural gas for steam generation, which means predominately consuming electricity from a higher GHG intensity electricity grid in Alberta. This topic is intended to explore some of the conversion technologies and initiatives underway to convert the CO2 in the flue gas into a useable product while reducing the overall cost of capture in an oil sands context.

Low Carbon Heat and Power

The oil sands industry is interested in exploring the how new, emerging technologies that decarbonize fossil fuels before they are used in boilers, might be applied to oil sands production. This topic is intended to highlight technologies that apply novel approaches to providing lower carbon heat and/or power in an oil sands context including advancements of the natural gas decarbonization ARCTIC Challenge

Novel In Situ Non-aqueous Production and Pipeline Technologies

Alternative and novel methods of producing and transporting bitumen from deposits >200m below surface that reduce GHGs and water use are of interest for presentations on this topic. Currently steam is generated using natural gas after treating water with a high silica content and injected into the subsurface to mobilize dense bitumen (peanut butter thickness). Diluent, a higher value refined product, is then added to this bitumen to transport over long distances. Lower cost, safe, pipeline technologies that can reduce the need for diluent are also of interest.

Bitumen Upgrading Technologies

Due to the higher density of oil sands bitumen and oil refiner design constraints, much of oil sands bitumen is upgraded prior to being transported and sold to refineries. Upgraders are energy intensive requiring hydrogen, steam, and power. Alternatives to upgrading for the purposes of improving product quality, eliminating the use of diluent, and reducing environmental impacts, while maximizing the overall resource value are of interest.

Oil Sands Innovation Infrastructure Resources

Technological innovation enabled the unlocking of the oils sands as a global hydrocarbon resource, and technology innovation will continue to drive environmental performance improvement. Success requires a robust technical, scientific and financial innovation infrastructure to maintain the pipeline of new technologies and solutions available to producers. This theme is intended to profile key infrastructure resources developed to support and accelerate water related oil sands innovation.

Understanding Cumulative Impacts and Watershed Modeling

This topic is intended to profile results from applied research and modeling in the areas of surface water, ground water, hydrogeology and natural versus anthropogenic inputs to the watershed that advance our understanding of the relationship of water in the region and how mining and in situ oil sands are working to achieve balanced outcomes.

Oil Sands Process Affected Water Composition and Toxicity

In oil sands mining operations, hot water is used to extract bitumen from the ore. The resulting process water is called oil sands process water (OSPW) and contains trace amounts of naturally-occurring organic compounds such as naphthenic acids which render the water acutely toxic to aquatic life without treatment. To properly manage and treat OSPW we need to understand its composition and toxicity. This theme is intended to share learnings from the latest research on analytical methods and toxicity.

Managing Oil Sands Process Water- How To Leverage Natural Systems and Processes

As oil sands mines progressively reclaim sites and approach the end of mining, the return of OSPW is necessary to achieve closure and reclamation outcomes. This theme is intended to showcase results from applied research and technology projects that address the technical challenges of mine water return, including oil sands process water (OSPW) treatment with pit lakes, mesocosms, and wetlands. Specific areas of interest include passive and semi-passive OSPW treatment systems and site water chemistry modeling.

How Continuous Improvement is Helping Reduce In Situ and Mine Water Use Intensity

Continuous improvement, the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, are important for enabling producers to quickly add value to their daily operation, and reduce water use intensity. Areas covered within this topic include: de-oiling, water treatment, steam generation, alternate water uses and facility start-up.

Improving and Adapting In Situ Water Treatment and Steam Generation Technologies

In Situ Producers are looking for easy-to-implement and cost effective technologies that improve the performance of existing water treatment and steam generation equipment. This topic intends to cover technologies and processes that producers are testing at their facilities.

Future Water Treatment and Steam Generation Technologies

While novel technologies and new flow sheets are always of interest to producers, the current economic conditions are driving interest in ground-breaking water treatment, steam generation and waste management technologies that are smaller, less complex and modular, with lower environmental impact and costs. This topic intends to highlight next generation technologies and may include an open discussion on interest areas and what might come next.

Process Control and Automation

Advanced process control and automation including use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers the possibility of improved performance and reduced environmental footprint with little or no changes to the existing process flowsheet. This topic intends to share research and projects in development on use of soft sensors, advanced process control and application of AI in the oil sands.

Tailings Technology Fundamentals

The fundamental science that underpins tailings treatment and deposit performance is extremely complex, and not fully understood in spite of all the work in this area over the past 40 years. Understanding tailings fundamentals is often essential to improving the performance of commercial tailings treatment processes and deposition methods. This topic will address key elements relating to tailings technology fundamentals.

Treatment of Fluid Tailings in Pit Lakes

This topic will address how the treatment of fluid tailings before or after placement in pit lakes can increase the storage capacity of pit lakes and facilitate reclamation into a pit lake capable of supporting an aquatic ecosystem.

Novel Tailings Treatments

This topic is intended to highlight novel tailings treatment technologies that have the potential to produce a better environmental net effect and are more robust than existing processes. The topic will include technologies undergoing testing by oil sands mining operators.

Harvesting Fluid Fine Tailings

FFT stored in settling basins are "harvested" by dredge or submersible pump prior to treatment. This topic is particularly interested in two primary areas of attention: a more effective debris management approach that would reduce outages attributed to debris blockages, and a reduction in the dilution of FFT due to “coning” of FFT near suction intake.

Capping of Tailings Deposits

All tailings deposits intended for terrestrial reclamation will need to be capped prior to placing reclamation materials. Challenges include selection of capping materials, cap design, placement of capping materials and drainage through the cap. This topic will cover assessment of the optimal methods for capping different tailings deposit types.

Froth Treatment Tailings Aspects

Froth treatment tailings present several challenges to tailings operations, including enrichment in naturally-occurring radioactive materials (NORMs), Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) potential, emission of odours, and anaerobic biological degradation in sub-aqueous deposits leading to methane formation. This topic seeks to facilitate a better understanding of the behaviour of froth treatment tailings in settling basins and deposits, and better adaptive management methods.

Consolidation Enhancement and Adaptive Management

Accelerating the speed at which initial settling and subsequent consolidation of tailings deposits progresses can speed the reclamation process. This topic is intended to highlight more cost effective and robust ideas as well as operating practices that will enhance and accelerate the consolidation and stabilization of large-scale tailings deposits.


INVENTURE$ 2018 features a variety of tracks that allow attendees to explore Keynotes, Featured Speakers, Panels, and Breakouts in the following programming tracks:

  • Agriculture Technology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Bio-Technology
  • Clean Energy
  • Construction Building Technology
  • Electrical Technology
  • Food and Fibre
  • Forestry Technology
  • Gaming
  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Nanotechnology
  • Oil & Gas Technology
  • Sensor Technology
  • Water Technology
Innovation Sessions

Main Stage - featuring influential keynotes, executive panel discussions and major announcements.

Interactive break-out sessions will provide opportunities to connect one-on-one and collaborate with like-minded influencers.

An Innovator Showcase will host live pitch events featuring 40 startups and a Young Entrepreneurs Showcase will display the best in student innovation, technology and business success.

Learn more about INVENTURE$