PTRC: New directions in its next 20 years

2018 marked a 20-year milestone for the Petroleum Technology Research Centre in Regina. 

Founded in 1998 to improve recovery rates from Saskatchewan’s difficult-to-access oil resources, the PTRC has managed research, development and deployment of new technologies for the oil industry that help improve recovery rates while also lessening environmental impacts like emissions, water use and land disturbance.

Recent strategic discussions between PTRC and its industry and government partners are leading the company in new directions.

“PTRC has been supporting fundamental and field research for years in such important areas as CO2-enhanced oil recovery and solvent vapour extraction,” notes CEO Dan MacLean. “That research bore important fruit in areas like de-risking the use of solvents in oil field operations, and in providing regulators and companies with valuable data to help establish operational and regulatory processes around their use.”

At recent meetings in Calgary, the PTRC identified – through a strategic session with key industry players operating in Saskatchewan – new research that could be beneficial to improving field recovery rates in a period of intense financial and environmental pressures.

“Both industry and our researchers at such institutions as the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) and the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan have recognized that the challenges faced in the province are being driven by the difficult technical aspects of reservoirs and by a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use and phantom methane emissions in the oil patch,” says MacLean.

PTRC is moving forward with new research projects that will focus on technologies such as cyclic solvent injection (which reduces the reliance on heat and water in heavy oil extraction) and the company recently agreed to fund tight oil research as part of SRC’s Viking research consortium.  Both research areas will be working to take R&D to the field as expeditiously as possible.

“In Canada, we need to understand the importance of this industry to our economy and our livelihoods. Focusing on our main goals of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of recovery in this province will help the industry sustain jobs and royalties, while also addressing key environmental concerns.”

PTRC is also looking at co-ordinating with researchers in Alberta on phantom methane emissions, and has begun preliminary discussion about funding projects in pipeline/flow line integrity and the application of different kinds of artificial intelligence in field operations. 

“We’re particularly excited by what AI might offer the industry in areas of monitoring and safety.  We think the future is bright.”

For more information about the PTRC, visit, or follow us on both Facebook and Twitter at @PTRC_sk.


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