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From Leduc to the Bakken boom, big moments in Canada's modern age of oil

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1927: The first of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ predecessors, the Alberta Oil Operators’ Association, was founded.
1949: Leduc Oil discovery (pictured) ushers in Canada’s modern age of oil.
1967: Production commences at Great Canadian Oil Sands site, Suncor’s predecessor and the first oil sands mine.
1974: Premier Peter Lougheed launches Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority, a crown corporation whose mandate was development of new technologies to extract oil in the province.
1978: Production commences at new Syncrude mine.

Copy photo by Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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1984: AOSTRA initiated Underground Test Facility, which pioneered steam-assisted, gravity-drainage (SAGD) to recover sub-surface bitumen.
1993: Suncor replaces troublesome bucket-wheel conveyors with massive trucks (pictured in September, 2001) to lower cost of moving bitumen. The trucks are the size of two-story houses and have become emblematic of the oil sands' vast scale.
1997: Production commences at the Hibernia project, Canada’s first offshore oil producer. Several other projects have followed and companies are now drilling in water depths of more than 2,000 metres.
1997- 2001: Mitchell Energy pioneers development of North America’s first major shale gas play, the Barnett in North Texas, through the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The shale gas boom revolutionizes North American gas markets and leads to exploration of British Columbia’s Montney and Horn River fields.

Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

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2001: Cenovus commences full commercial operations at Foster Creek, the first oil sands plant to employ SAGD technology (pictured pipes near Cold Lake, Atla. in July, 2012). The company is now experimenting with solvents – in addition to steam – to free the bitumen.
2007: Using techniques developed in shale gas fields, EOG Resources of Houston reports prolific new well in North Dakota, sparking the Bakken oil boom. Canadian producers apply the same drilling advances to the Canadian Bakken and Duvernay fields.
2012: Industry launches Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, in which companies must overcome competitive instincts to pool their research into environmental improvements in the oil sands.
2012: Imperial Oil Ltd. commissions the Kearl oil sands mine with low-temperatures processing innovations it claims will lower operating costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level equivalent to the average crude used in North America.

Todd Korol/Reuters

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