Canadian oilsands and heavy oil operators are using operational upgrades and substantial research outlays as key weapons against an economic squeeze brought about largely by volatile oil prices. Syncrude Canada Ltd. and Suncor Inc., the two major producers of synthetic oil from the Athabasca oilsands of northern Alberta, have made significant progress in trimming unit costs. That's important in operations that are part of the Canadian resource target of an estimated 1.7 trillion bbl of oil in place in Alberta oilsands (OGJ, Aug. 2, 1993, p. 25). Imperial Oil Ltd., a major heavy oil producer with a 100,000 b/d capacity operation at Cold Lake,...

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