Clement Bowman (Canada) 2007

Awarded the Global Energy Prize for the theoretical justification, creation and implementation of efficient technologies for synthetic fuel production from bituminous schist and oil sands.

Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, Ontario Tech University.

Dr. Clement Bowman is a Canadian chemical engineer and a pioneer of the economically transformative Alberta oil sands, as founding chairperson of the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority.

Dr. Bowman was born on January 7, 1930 in Toronto, Canada. He graduated in chemical engineering in 1952 and later completed his PhD in 1961.

From 1952 to 1957 Bowman was working in Dupont Canada. In 1960 he continued his research activities working for Imperial Oil Enterprises Ltd. In 1964 he was appointed as a Research Manager for Syncrude Canada Ltd. In the late 1960s the government of Alberta decreased the rate of oil sands development, and Bowman returned to Imperial Oil’s research department in Sarnia.

In 1975, he became chairperson of the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA), a crown corporation with a fund of $100 million (worth 400 million today). He was responsible for starting a project to obtain access to the deep oil sands deposits by sinking a shaft and drilling horizontal wells by directional drilling, now the basis of the widely adopted method of steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD).

In 1984, he returned to Imperial Oil as Vice President – Research for Esso Petroleum Canada, a division of the company, with responsibility for the Sarnia Research Centre. In 1986, he returned to Alberta as President of the Alberta Research Council, an Alberta crown corporation. At the Council, he led the organization into joint research ventures with the private sector, with the oil sands and their environmental issues remaining a priority. In 1989, five years after leaving AOSTRA, he received the K. A. Clark Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to AOSTRA.

On completing his term there, he opened his own consulting practice.

At 61, he was inspired by the work of Alex Lowey and Phil Hood in their book The Power of the 2×2 Matrix to devise a methodology, called ProGrid, for practical decisions such as selecting research projects, choosing corporate strategies, and making decisions on proposals, grant applications and awards in a number of Canadian research institutions and Centres of Excellence, such as Alberta Heritage Foundation of Medical Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Scientific activities

  • Specialist in the field of obtaining artificial oil from tar sands.
  • Researched molecular and interfacial properties of tar sands and developed a technology for their processing.
  • Established industrial production for processing of tar sands of Athabasca deposit.
  • Carried out a range of applied works for extraction of oil from deep-seated sands.
  • Directed creation of test units for updating of technology for obtaining oil from tar sands.
  • Directs the Canadian Academy of Engineering work group in the main directions of development of Canadian power engineering.


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