Oil sands innovation cleaning up pollution from marine shipping

Alberta company pioneers low-sulphur marine fuel can be produced cheaper with up to 40 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions

By Grady Semmens
A freighter sits anchored in the ocean waters off West Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadian Press

New technology developed to turn Canadian oil into fuel for ocean freighters is promising to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and noxious air pollution from the international shipping industry.

“This is a made-in-Alberta technology that has global legs,” says Neil Camarta, co-founder of Enlighten Innovations. “This is actually the most disruptive thing that’s happened to the oil upgrading business since the 1930s.”

The small company, started by two former high-level oil sands executives with a passion for innovation, is working to commercialize a unique technology to produce low-sulphur fuel that meets strict new rules by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

By adding the technology to existing refineries, low-sulphur marine fuel can be produced at a lower cost and will generate up to 40 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional fuel production methods.

“The global market for cleaning up marine fuel oil is four million barrels per day – it’s a huge market,” Camarta says.

Enlighten Innovations is receiving funding from Emissions Reduction Alberta’s Oil Sands Innovation Challenge and Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program to build a commercial-scale demonstration facility near Edmonton, Alberta.