July 13, 2016

Genome Canada funds research to de-risk offshore oil exploration

Faculty of Science’s Casey Hubert collaborates with partners including Nova Scotia Department of Energy

A University of Calgary energy research collaboration has been awarded a total of  $4.9 million in funding, including $1.59 million from Genome Canada and a further $3.31 million from the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, the Geological Survey of Canada (Natural Resources Canada) the University of Calgary and Mitacs.

The project is one of four new Genome Canada projects announced Monday by Parliamentary Secretary for Science, Terry Beech in Victoria B.C. “The Government of Canada is pleased to support these new teams that are putting leading-edge genomics research to use in society to benefit health, the environment and our economy. These projects open up new avenues for made-in-Canada innovation, leading to stronger markets for our industries, job creation and new opportunities for Canadians,” said Beech.

Precision extraction through genomics and geoscience mapping

The University of Calgary’s contributions to the project will be led by Casey Hubert, University of Calgary’s professor in Biological Sciences, who will apply what genomic science has revealed about marine bacteria and link it with traditional geoscience.

Casey Hubert will lead the University of Calgary component of the collaboration.

Casey Hubert will lead the University of Calgary component of the collaboration.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

“The partners who have come together to support this important research are making it possible for Canada to continue to meet its growing energy needs,” notes Dr. John Reynolds, (acting) vice-president research at the University of Calgary. “Casey Hubert’s novel work is applying our growing understanding of how living organisms can be harnessed for more sustainable energy.” 

Genomics, which combines genetics, biology and informatics to understand the DNA of living organisms, allows sophisticated studies of bacteria associated with hydrocarbons. In the seabed these bacteria can indicate that oil is nearby. Being able to more precisely identify the location of oil reserves reduces the risk for the environment and for industry — allowing Canada to attract over $2 billion for new exploration off the coast of Nova Scotia.

The three-year project, Microbial Genomics for De-Risking Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration in Nova Scotia, is part of the Fifth Round of the  Genome Canada Genomic Applications Partnership Program, which is designed to bring together a range of partners including provinces, private and public sector organizations, and Canada’s six regional Genome Centres. Genome Alberta and Genome Atlantic are the lead centres for this project.

Located in the heart of Canada’s energy sector, the University of Calgary has built a reputation as a global leader in energy research and innovation. With a focus on our low-carbon future, diverse teams are assessing the effects of energy-related processes while harnessing unconventional hydrocarbon resources through the Energy Innovations for Today and Tomorrow research strategy.