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Energy Coalition to create 1,500 student seats; action plan to unlock Alberta energy reserves

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November 4, 2005

Source: University of Calgary:

Energy Coalition to create 1,500 student seats; action plan to unlock Alberta energy reserves

The University of Calgary and SAIT Polytechnic today announced the Calgary Coalition to Advance Alberta’s Energy, Environment and Innovation Strategies. This coalition is an unprecedented alignment of post-secondaries designed to meet the needs of the business community on an urgent provincial and national issue – a critical shortage of skilled workers.

SAIT Polytechnic and the University also unveiled a proposal to increase student enrolment by a total of 1,534 seats, as well as an advanced research program. The U of C is requesting 650 undergraduate and 350 graduate seats under the province’s ACCESS program and SAIT Polytechnic has requested 534 seats. All are specifically related to the energy industry.

"There are 176B barrels of proven reserves in Alberta. To unlock that resource Alberta must have more people, research and technology. This partnership was created to accelerate our shared response to that industry demand," said Dr. Harvey Weingarten, President of the U of C. "This has tremendous economic and policy implications for Alberta. An increase of just 10 percent in the recovery and upgrading of oil sands with these technologies translates into $260 billion in Canadian GDP and almost $30 billion in government revenue."

"Labour shortages, particularly in the energy sector, are slowing development and driving up costs. Simply, we need to start training more skilled workers now for the energy industry to tap the potential it is seeking," says Irene Lewis, President and CEO of SAIT. "This coalition between the U of C and SAIT aligns the unique strengths and abilities of our institutions to ensure Alberta’s energy industry will get the best skilled workforce it needs. The Calgary Coalition to Advance Alberta’s Energy, Environment and Innovation Strategies is a significant step toward meeting the provincial challenge and industry’s requirements."

The province has challenged the post-secondary sector to work together to find innovative ways to respond to Alberta’s economic and policy needs. Alberta must have a highly skilled workforce to advance Alberta's energy, environment and innovation strategy.

Through ISEEE (the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy) at the University of Calgary, and SETTI (SAIT Energy Training and Technology Institute) at SAIT, the two institutions will develop joint programs, share both human resources and facilities, increase transferability between programs and schools and create joint industry alliances.

At the U of C this includes students in oil and gas engineering, commerce, geology and geophysics, economics, alternative energy, project management and law. The annual average cost to add 1,000 students in these fields is $12.8M. (The figures provided represent the requested increase in the base operating grant, based on the province’s Access formula.) The capital cost for the proposed ISEEE building is $140M.

For SAIT’s role in the Coalition, the Polytechnic wants to train 534 additional students as future technologists in oil sands mining engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, occupational health and safety, industrial instrumentation, petroleum engineering, power engineering, and process operations. Adding 534 new students in two-year programs would cost $5.2M per year. At least an additional $35M would be required for updates to labs, new equipment, new faculty spaces, and curriculum development.

For more information:

Larry Lalonde
SAIT Polytechnic Media Relations
Tel: (403) 284-8473; Cell: (403) 512-3291

Roman Cooney
VP External Relations, U of C
Tel: (403) 220-7451; Cell: (403) 701-4609

The energy sector needs skilled workers to continue to build on its current momentum. SAIT and U of C are working together, with industry, to collaboratively train workers for the full continuum of jobs, from entry level and technologists through to knowledge workers and researchers.

According to the October TD Economics Report, "labour shortages have worsened, not just in oil and gas, but across most industries. Interprovincial migration into the Wild Rose Country, which had been a huge source of population growth and skilled labour in the late 1990s, has slowed recently because of British Columbia’s own rising economic fortunes. This has heightened the competition for capital and skilled labour . . . . In the absence of action, labour shortages could have a growing influence in dampening economic gains. And, over the longer run, an aging population in the Corridor will complicate the challenge of skills shortages."

The energy sector accounts for about one-half of the provincial economy when direct and indirect effects are taken into account and it is the largest private sector investor in the Canadian economy. In 2003, it provided government revenues of more than $16B and generated capital spending of approximately $25B. It accounts for more than one half of the nation’s favorable trade balance.

However, over 90 percent of the huge oil sands resource is too deep to mine and only 2 percent is recoverable with existing technology. The next generation of in situ (underground) processes and technology will optimally recover and upgrade this resource while dramatically reducing environmental impacts. There is also huge potential associated with unconventional gas and improved recovery of conventional oil and gas. There is potential for more than a trillion cubic feet of unconventional gas - coal bed methane and tight gas.
Canada also has considerable potential for alternative energy but at present most is not economic. However, alternative energy options that are not viable on a stand-alone basis often become viable when combined to take advantage of synergies with conventional energy production and infrastructure.

ISEEE is focused on three key areas:

Advanced Recovery and Upgrading. Alberta sits on one of the largest concentrations of energy resources (primarily oil, gas and coal) in the world. ISEEE is developing next-generation processes and technology required to recover and upgrade these and alternative/renewable resources. ISEEE is focused on integrated analysis and solutions that simultaneously take into account sustainability, energy, environment (including carbon and water management issues), and economy.

Policy. Along with addressing science and technology issues, there is integrated analysis to inform the key associated policy and regulatory issues. This high quality, independent and integrated evaluation of the relevant policy and regulatory options and issues is of great assistance to governments in developing their policies and regulations.

ISEEE provides reliable information and analysis for the development of sound and effective policy; it does not advocate.

Sustainable Energy. ISEEE’s work also includes novel hydrogen production processes, and processes to produce electricity and other high-value fuels and chemical products from abundant, low quality hydrocarbons and biomass wastes. Key areas include fuel cells, hydrogen production and transportation, hydrogen from alternative methods and sources, transportation, storage, and safety.

SAIT Polytechnic and the SAIT Energy Training and Technology Institute:

SAIT is world-renowned as a provider of skilled workers to the energy industry. Faculty deliver industry-ready graduates through certificate and diploma programs, applied degrees, apprenticeship programs, continuing education courses and customized training for employee upgrading and professional development.

The SAIT Energy Training and Technology Institute builds on SAIT’s 90 years of experience to offer targeted programs that meet the diverse training needs of industry. SAIT offers training solutions for the energy sector across all operational requirements from job safety, welding engineering and pipefitting to information and technology systems and power engineering. Four of SAIT’s leading-edge Centres of Technology Development contribute expertise to SETTI. These include the BP Control Engineering Technology Centre, the Wellsite Production Education Centre, the EnCana Environmental Technology Centre, and TransAlta epicentre. There are also an additional 36 specialized labs and training facilities that contribute to training for the energy industry.



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