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Calgary’s 24th WPC: Are Small Modular Reactors a Solution for Venezuela? – EnergiesNet

Funding agreement: Rhona DelFrari of Cenovus, left, and Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz, right, at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary (Alberta Government)

Barry Blacklock, EnergiesNet

EnergiesNet.com 09 21 2023

EnergiesNet readers who are involved in plans to reactivate Venezuela’s oil and gas industry may want to include the use of small modular nuclear reactors in their strategy.  The power and energy needed to recover production in the Orinoco Belt will definitely tax Venezuela’s power grid, which is already incapable of delivering safe, reliable power to all parts of the country.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Day 3 of the 24th World Petroleum Congress , the Government of Alberta announced that Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is  contributing $7 million in funding from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund towards a $26.7 million series of studies to be conducted over a four year period by Cenovus Energy.

These studies will evaluate the feasibility of using small modular nuclear reactors (SMR’s) to decarbonize a portion of Alberta’s oil sands production by eliminating the combustion of natural gas to produce the steam needed to mobilize the oil in the reservoir and cause it to flow to the well.

Alberta Minister of Environment and Protected Areas, Rebecca Schulz, made the announcement along with Justin Riemer, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), and Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates. ERA’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund is financing the project.  Rhona DelFrari, Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice-President, Stakeholder Engagement, spoke on behalf of Cenovus Energy.

The province’s decision to provide funding for these studies was influenced by work performed in the past by Alberta Innovates.  Another consideration was the economic and environmental impact a successful project could have in other sectors, not only in Alberta, but far beyond provincial boundaries to other parts of the world.

Although the participants in the press conference kept the announcement upbeat, critics point out that the final results of the studies will not be available for over four years and the startup of the first  nuclear facility is not likely to happen until many years after that.  So, although this a relatively small step in the right direction, Cenovus and other operators will continue to burn natural gas to produce their steam.

EnergiesNet.com 09 21 2023

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