PTAC’s role in the sustainable development of Canada’s world-class hydrocarbon resources

22-1 Soheil headshotBy Soheil Asgarpour, PhD., P.Eng.

The Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) is a not-for-profit organization that was created to promote collaborative research and technology development for the Canadian hydrocarbon energy industry.  In 1996, downsizing and tight budgets resulted in a dramatic decrease in research and development spending for the oil and gas industry. The Viice-president’s Breakfast Club, an informal organization comprised of executives from 25 Canadian oil companies, soon recognized that a new model for developing technology was required.  The PTAC was created at that time to be a neutral organization with the goal of increasing R&D capacity through increased collaboration among all industry stakeholders.  Through this model, issues from multiple stakeholders have been identified and many consortia have been launched, achieving significant financial leveraging, reducing duplication of effort, and pooling resources on non-competitive issues.

The PTAC has been founded on the belief that the application of new and better technologies will improve oil and gas recovery, lower costs, make operations safer, and reduce the impact on the environment. The PTAC believes that these goals are best achieved when all industry stakeholder groups work together in a structured way to identify industry problems and define research projects and technological solutions to address them.

With 17 years’ experience in collaborative research and development, including the recent emphasis on field projects and technology deployment, the PTAC stands as a model for transforming challenges into opportunities within Canada’s hydrocarbon industry.

PTAC’s network is comprised of approximately 200 member organizations representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders: oil and gas producers, transporters, government bodies, research providers, venture capital firms, academic institutions, individuals, as well as service and supply companies. PTAC producer members produce approximately 80 per cent of Canadian conventional oil and gas.  On the other end of the spectrum, over 150 member companies are small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), companies that are the engine behind innovation and the development of technologies.  PTAC’s intention is to be a bridge between SMEs  and producer members to ensure they stay abreast of one another’s innovations and foster collaboration among all stakeholders. The PTAC also has over 340 volunteer technical experts serving 71 industry-led consortia and projects. PTAC has successfully completed over 370 industry-led projects that helped develop technology, policy, and best practices, while the execution of over 450 PTAC events has helped identify challenges, investigate technology solutions, and disseminate research and technology results.

The PTAC is well-positioned to provide a mechanism for collaboration on long-term solutions, as it possesses a proven record of understanding the technology needs of the hydrocarbon energy industry, effective facilitation of joint industry projects, and an extensive partnership network. The PTAC is well recognized as the facilitator of choice for innovation, applied research, technology development, demonstration, and deployment.

Recently, the PTAC has formed four networks: the Clean Bitumen Technology Action Plan (CBTAP), the Resource Emissions Technology Action Plan (REMTAP), the Tight Oil and Gas Technology Action Plan (TOGTAP), and the Remote Sensing Technology Action Plan (RSTAP). The purpose of these networks is to bring together experienced individuals and creative ideas, in order to develop projects that address specific issues. These networks utilize a systematic approach in developing breakthrough technologies that will materially improve industry performance in the areas of reducing costs, reducing environmental impacts, and increasing recovery. These action plans start with the identification of challenges, which leads to internal and external search to identify technology solutions. This, in turn, results in the formation of multi-stakeholder consortia in the areas of applied research, engineering studies, field pilot projects, and the commercialization of technologies. The networks serve as a place to share the inventory of technologies, prioritize technology projects, and launch consortia for further work.

From the very beginning, the PTAC has stood by its mission to facilitate innovation, collaborative research and technology development, demonstration, and deployment for a responsible Canadian hydrocarbon energy industry.  The PTAC continues to further this mission today, envisioning a future in which Canada is a global leader in hydrocarbon energy technology. The creation of a Virtual Centre for Commercialization at PTAC in January 2013 is a step toward meeting this vision.

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