2009 Winner: Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology (Sales less than 25 million)
Technology Helps Oil Companies Make Exploration And Production Decisions
Gushor Inc. was established in 2006, but the Calgary Research Park-based provider of integrated reservoir fluid characterization, geochemistry, and reservoir engineering technologies has already helped oil sands and heavy oil operations in Canada and elsewhere. It has completed more than 170 projects for clients, including some of the world’s largest energy companies.
Challenges in Heavy Oil
Gushor’s team of 12 engineering, geoscience and IT PhDs, M.Sc.s and several business professionals has developed technologies addressing challenges presented by variable heavy oil quality and complex reservoirs.
“Gushor has revolutionized how viscosity is measured in the oil sands and heavy oil industries and how that information is used by reservoir engineers to design effective recovery processes,” says CEO Dr. Steve Larter. He adds that oil sand bitumen viscosity can vary from the consistency of maple syrup to that of chocolate within 50 metres.
“The mobility of the oil determines where wells will be placed, how they will be operated and how much oil can be extracted from the well,” he explains. “We’ve allowed operators to refine what they do by developing technology that accurately measures viscosity at high resolution and by putting that information into sophisticated reservoir engineering models.”
Gushor is an independent University of Calgary spin-off company, commercializing its own and the university’s technologies. It has filed four patents and continues to make aggressive investment in research and development. In its first full year of operation, the company achieved revenue in the seven-figure range. In its second year, Gushor’s revenue grew by a further 100 per cent.
“We hope to reach revenues of $25 million within four years,” Dr. Larter says. Gushor conducts much of its business in Western Canada, but has successfully completed projects in the United States, China, Europe and South America. The company’s growth will come partly from geographic expansion and by increasing its profile in heavy oil as well as oil sands.
“We want to take what we’ve successfully accomplished in Canada into the rest of the world,” Dr. Larter says. The company is also using its expertise in oil chemical and physical property analysis to develop on-site applications of fluid characterization. “We can do more sophisticated chemical analyses of Jupiter’s moons than we can oil composition at the well site,” Dr. Larter says. “We see a huge opportunity for operators to make decisions at the well sites while they are drilling, instead of waiting to have all of the samples brought back to the lab for analysis.”
Dr. Larter says Gushor’s biggest achievement is taking university-level research and development and building an engineering, geoscience, and business team into a technology company that is helping its clients make critical million dollar decisions.
“We enjoyed seeing our papers in the big academic journals,” he says. “Even more satisfying is having designed recovery processes that reduce CO2 emissions at source by 50 per cent and can save our clients millions of dollars.”