JACOS’ Hangingstone Demonstration Project began operations in 1999. The facility is located approximately 50 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, AB. Current production is approximately 6500 barrels of bitumen per day using SAGD technology.
Case Study: Japan Canada Oil Sands Limited
In 1978, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (JAPEX) was invited by Petro-Canada, Canadian Occidental, and Esso to conduct research in the oil sands region of Athabasca in central Alberta.
Since the company was headquartered in Tokyo, JAPEX established a Canadian subsidiary, Canada Oil Sands (JACOS), to conduct business in the country.
The four companies conducted a number of pilot projects and participated in early trials of an extraction technique now commonly referred to as Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage.
Importance of Aviation
With headquarters in Japan, a Canadian head office in Calgary, and an operating facility south of Fort McMurray, aviation is a critical link for JACOS. Employees take approximately 60 round trips annually from Calgary to Tokyo. Similarly, JAPEX employees frequently travel from Tokyo to the Canadian offices.
Air travel between Calgary and Fort McMurray is an important link for operational support and maximizes efficiency. The highway between the two cities is a two-lane undivided highway notorious for heavy traffic volume and a number of vehicle collisions each year. It would take about nine hours to drive between the two cities and even longer during bad weather. However, flights can last up to an hour and a half, making travel much more efficient.
In 2012, JACOS employees based in Calgary booked approximately 200 round trips to Fort McMurray. Since receiving approval to expand its operations in the same year, JACOS has seen the number of trips double and expect it to likely increase again before construction is complete in 2016. This expansion will create more jobs, which has been increasing steadily as more projects take place. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers notes that the oil sands currently provides jobs for 75,000 people across Canada and is expected to grow to over 905,000 jobs over the next 25 years. These highly skilled trade workers are being sought after from Europe, the U.S., and regions in Canada.
“The tremendous growth of the oil sands industry has resulted in a demand for skilled workers that far exceeds the local market, and aviation makes it practical to source the required skills from throughout Canada and even the United States,” said JACOS’ Executive Vice President Brian Harschnitz.
Air transportation is vital to the continued growth of the oil sands development projects. JAPEX is a global company and aviation plays an important role for business travel. With international production projects in Canada’s Pacific North West, the United States, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran and Russia, business travel has become synonymous with air travel.
JACOS has additional leases in the Athabasca oil sands region, which the company plans to develop over the next 20 years. Aviation will continue to play an important role in how JACOS move people to effectively develop these assets.