Jim Letourneau's Blog

Investing, Technology, Travel, Geology, Music, Golf. I think that covers it.

Dvorak and Bitumen

Rob writes...

Do you have any insight or link to a website that disusses the
techicals of the different technologies being researched to extract
bitumen . Im aware of SAGD and have looked at THAI but last week read
about HTL  technology by  Ivanhoe energy (IVAN). THey just released
test results last week. It appears to be a winner yet on the news, the
stock didn't budge. Im thinking there must be another out there that
appears to be the long term extraction process without steam.. Any
suggestions?  Thank JIM!!


Don't forget that more bitumen is currently being produced by cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) in Alberta than any other method. If there is a better method it would probably show up in a Google search.

there is often a cheaper, better, faster way of doing something, that
doesn't mean it will be taken up by the end users immediately.
Companies developing oil sand deposits face numerous hurdles. First
they need to delineate their resources and convert them into reserves.
In addition to drilling, this stage may include the construction of a
pilot plant as the company will need to document not only how much oil
they have in the ground but the ability to get it into a pipeline at
economic rates. If (and only if) this stage is successful will they may
be able to raise capital and move forward to full scale commercial

If a company has a choice between a method that has been
successfully used in similar areas vs. a new method that has not been
proven in the field, they will go with the sure thing most every time
given the catastrophic cost of a failure (even if the new method costs
less and recovers more oil).

Social factors (social diffusion) play a big role in the uptake of new technology. Companies with new technology need to actively court early adopters.

...an innovation will experience an increased rate of diffusion
if potential adopters perceive that the innovation: 1) Can be tried on
a limited basis before adoption; 2) Offers observable results; 3) Has
an adàvantage relative to other innovations (or the status quo); 4) is
not overly complex; and 5) Is compatible with existing practices and

The Theory of Perceived Attributes (Rogers, 1995)

and just when you think an idea is going to make it..


..the attitude of the Early Adopters and the attitude of the
Early Majority are fundamentally incompatible. Innovations don't just
slide effortlessly from one group to the next. There is a chasm between

The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell, 2006)

There may be better extraction processes already developed but investing in them requires great patience (think decades) with no guarantee of success. I don't see many oil companies using Mac computers with Dvorak keyboards yet.