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The Edmonton Journal: Shell Centre to create oil technologies

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The Shell Manufacturing Centre opened at NAIT on Thursday. Watching an automated manufacturing line are, from left, NAIT president Sam Shaw, Western Economic Diversification Minister Rona Ambrose, and Shell oilsands vice-president Brian Straub.
Chris Schwarz, The Journal

Search is on for better, more efficient ways to extract harder-to-get crude

David Finlayson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: 8:37 am

EDMONTON – It’s got an automated manufacturing line with robots and some of the most sophisticated software anywhere, and it could be a key to extracting oilsands and shale more efficiently.

The new $14.6 million Shell Manufacturing Centre at NAIT will also help companies create state-of-the-art processes to meet global energy demand, Shell oilsands vice-president Brian Straub said Thursday.

The realities or the industry are that global demand for energy is increasing, and we can’t rely on easy oil from conventional sources anymore, Straub said at the official opening of the centre.

“Operational excellence is key to our industry’s success and this requires discipline, flawless execution, and the successful advancement of new technologies.”

Shell contributed $2.5 million to the centre, the largest single community investment the company has ever made.

Straub said non-conventional oil is labour and technology intensive, and NAIT will produce the skilled trades needed to build and run the complex operations safely and efficiently.

The nine labs provide cutting edge research and advanced manufacturing solutions in such areas as advanced hydraulics and pneumatics, computer assisted design, laser cutting and robotic welding.

It also has three “smart” classrooms wired to take advantage of the latest technologies, including data projection.

The centre, housed in an existing main campus building, will take about 400 students a year from various technology fields, as well as NAIT’s bachelor of technology degree program.

“It will help develop the next generation of skilled workers,” NAIT president Sam Shaw said.

“The students will gain the knowledge, expertise and skills to improve productivity and help their firms become more innovative.”

Canadian businesses face significant challenges to reduce operational costs and improve performance, and the centre will help them compete globally, Shaw said.

The federal Western Economic Diversification department had contributed $3.5 million to the project, but minister Rona Ambrose announced Thursday they would be adding another $1.1 million. She said that each new student the centre produces will help Canada’s manufacturing sector to greater success in the global market.

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