Low Impact – Next Best Thing for Northern Alberta?

This blog is hopefully one in a series that I and others will use to start a dialogue with those who dream and who champion new ideas to ‘make a difference’ in how resource development is done in the region.

My dilemma is where to start?

I am hoping to participate in uncovering a process whereby innovations will be developed, proven and demonstrated that better solve or significantly reduce the negative impacts of resource development in the environment.  Challenging?  Yes it is.

I don’t think there is any disagreement that Alberta’s resource industry is facing challenging times and arguments about how it is doing business.  There is a rising expectation on how ‘business should be done’:  news flashes are common almost daily about the negative problems the industry is having in developing oil and gas resources.

BlogFor the past 5 years, a group of innovative companies and regional stakeholders in the greater Grande Prairie area have been exploring, testing and demonstrating new ideas in resource development that have less impact on the environment than traditional practices.  This group understands the industry’s operational realities and issues, the problem that non-compliance to standards creates for everyone, the realization that yesterday’s minimum standards is not good enough now, and  the increasing costs-of-doing-business both cut into profits and constrain  innovations that could actually help with the problem.

Adopting innovations is a way to do business differently.  Past practices, especially those targeting or just meeting minimum standards are no longer being considered acceptable.  The thought of trying to comply by just meeting a minimum standard is somewhat unaspiring when we should be striving for excellence.  At a minimum, we should have ‘continuous-improvement-best’ practices to follow.

Within the innovation process, we often hear about a ‘valley-of-death’ where good ideas fall in and do not reach their potential for implementation or commercialization.  This ‘valley-of-death’ is that stage where the innovator has to prove the idea will work with little-to-no risk: almost guaranteeing success and no failure.  Part of solution to get over the valley-of-death is being able to demonstrate the innovation to targeted audiences, so they can decide to buy into the idea and pull it forward into the marketplace.

Helping innovations into and through the demonstration stage can: help industry see there are alternatives to past practices that are no working; help the public see we are striving for excellence through best practices; and help a customer feel more comfortable in their buying decision.

We have been encouraging demonstration projects of innovative practices and products at the County of Grande Prairie’s Evergreen Park Centre for Resource Excellence & Innovation.   The demonstrations at the site showcase how innovation can help companies and stakeholders reduce their footprint and impact on the environment.  It also showcases how innovations that exceed minimum standards can lead to better solutions for the environment and industry.

As I begin to navigate my way through the many twists and turns on this expedition, I hope you will share your insights and your feedback with our team.  We hope to continue to build on a dynamic team of innovators and problem-solvers, and via this blog invite you to join.  We want the Evergreen Park Centre for Resource Excellence & Innovation to be a player in making a difference on how Alberta’s resources are developed.

If you are interested in innovative ideas as demonstration projects in resource industry, let’s continue the conversation and Move Innovation Forward.


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