Is COSIA more or less relevant in today's economic environment?

Welcome to issue number four of ‘Collaborator’, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance’s newsletter.

2015 continues to provide challenging conditions for the entire oil sector, including our oil sands members. As low oil prices continue to squeeze margins and companies adapt to market conditions, many people are asking, “How does this current economic climate affect COSIA’s relevance?”

When answering, I speak about the basics of the COSIA model. At the core of COSIA is the concept of leverage. Through COSIA our members share environmental knowledge, best practices, and technology. Through this sharing or leverage, duplication can be eliminated and more technology development and testing are performed at lower cost. And of course, intellectual property rights are maintained, including for third parties.

COSIA’s centralised project portfolio management system allows our membership to optimise their project investments. Our current portfolio of approximately 230 active projects contains a deliberate mix of project types, in terms of cost, timescale, risk and impact (incremental vs. transformative). Taking a portfolio approach manages risk and maximizes success.

In this issue of Collaborator we have again a number of examples where our members have continued to push the boundaries of innovative thinking:

  1. A fuel cell that captures carbon dioxide produced from oil sands operations and uses it to produce electricity.
  2. A process that helps treat and reuse water used in in situ operations.
  3. Techniques to more effectively reclaim key wetlands following mining activity.
  4. Research that enables industry to better understand how to transport tailings with lower energy requirements.

But our members cannot deliver on COSIA’s vision alone. A significant proportion of the 230 or so projects involve third parties that are not oil sands companies. Continuing to partner with external innovators is essential as oil sands companies continue to help build a global innovation ecosystem via COSIA that capitalizes on the knowledge, skills and innovation capacity of world class people and organizations outside of the oil sands sector.

It is in this context that I’m proud to announce COSIA’s first Innovation Summit will be held in Banff, beginning on March 31 – an event specifically aimed at actively developing and supporting this ecosystem. The event, to be held once every two years, will allow interested parties to hear COSIA members and their partners showcase their technology across the discover, design, develop and deploy readiness levels. Summit attendees will be able to participate in workshops and interactive sessions with oil sands technology leaders from COSIA companies and COSIA staff. In addition, there are interactive talks and panels with world-class experts in the theory and practise of innovation.

So, to the question “is COSIA more or less relevant in today's economic environment” I emphatically say more. And with your help we can go from strength to strength.


Dan Wicklum

Dr. Dan Wicklum, PhD. | Chief Executive 
Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance