The head of heavy oil for Shell warned today that without making sure oil sand’s credentials were up to scratch the industry would not have a future.
Speaking at the World Heavy Oil Congress in Aberdeen, John Rhind, vice-president heavy oil at Shell, said the sector – currently centred around Canada – was still relatively young.
With this came “significant opportunity to grow and improve environmentally”, he added.
The oil sands industry in Canada has faced criticism for its impact on the landscape, heavy use of water and it’s high CO2 footprint, compared to conventional oil production.
However, Mr Rhind said: “If we didn’t believe we can develop these projects responsibly we wouldn’t do it.
“That is not to say we don’t have work to do to improve out performance and engagement with stakeholders.”
He said Shell was working to reduce CO2 emissions, water use and impact on land.
“I do not believe we have an option,” he said, adding: “If we do not respond to the challenge to improve our environmental standards, we don’t have a future.”
Opening today’s event, Jack Stevenson, heavy oil focus area manager at Chevron and chairman of the congress, said the opportunities for heavy oil were big.
But he added the sector’s opportunities and outputs must be carefully managed.”
Mr Stevenson said: “What may work for today’s projects may not be sufficient for future developments.
“Another key challenge is technology. We need incremental and breakthrough ideas for the increasingly complex resources and types of resources we are pursuing. Last but not least we need people and skills.”