C-FER, originally named the Centre for Frontier Engineering Research Institute, was incorporated on November 7, 1983 as a research consortium of industry, academic and professional organizations, and opened its doors for business on April 1, 1984. Its initial funding was a $5M grant from the Devonian Foundation of Calgary. Its mandate was to tackle problems related to structures required for Arctic and offshore energy development in Canada.
In its first year of operation, C-FER had two employees and two co-op engineering students working in office trailers on the University of Alberta campus. By 1988, as the company grew, several staff members moved to a rented one-bay office/testing shop on 53rd avenue in Edmonton. From 1984 to 1990, C-FER also operated a small office in Halifax, Nova Scotia which was known as C‑FER Atlantic.
In May 1990, having continued to grow, C-FER moved into its own building in the Edmonton Research Park on Karl Clark Road. Funding for the $18M, approximately 4,000 m2 combined office and laboratory facility was shared three ways among C‑FER and the Provincial and Federal governments.
In 1997, C-FER re-incorporated as a private, not-for-profit company. In 1999, C-FER was acquired by the Alberta Research Council (which, in 2010, was renamed Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures), and became C-FER Technologies (1999) Inc. Through the acquisition, C-FER retained its own management structure and Board of Directors, with industry providing strong input into C-FER’s research and development programs.
In 2011, C-FER rented a 1,400 m2 office and laboratory facility on 68th Avenue and 50th Street, in Edmonton, Alberta, in order to build and accommodate the further expansion of its physical testing capabilities with major equipment additions such as the 16 million pound Horizontal Testing System (HTS) and the construction of a pipeline leak detection apparatus. It became clear in 2013 that C-FER needed to expand both its office and laboratory facilities to continue to service its clients. In August 2014, the Pipelines and Structures (P&S) Division moved into the newly leased “C-FER East," approximately 3,600 m2 office and laboratory facility on Roper Road in Edmonton, Alberta. With this move, the Exploration and Production (E&P) Division remained at C-FER’s corporate headquarters in the Edmonton Research Park.
In 1984, C-FER’s first financial statements listed assets of $583K and revenue of $589K; the corresponding numbers for 2014-15 fiscal year were $16.5M and $20.4M, respectively. In its early years, C-FER earned most of its income from its Members, which were primarily Canadian-based companies; currently over 60% of C-FER’s revenue is derived from sources outside Canada.
Over the years, C-FER’s business activities have stretched beyond its arctic and offshore focus, helping the energy industry in areas such as heavy oil and bitumen recovery, artificial lift systems, deepwater and arctic pipeline design and pipeline integrity management. The unique testing facilities have even attracted work from major military and commercial aerospace manufacturers.
C-FER’s lab equipment and its functionality make us unique in Canada. In response to industry needs, C-FER has added various testing equipment over the years, including the Connection Testing System (CTS), the Deep Well Simulator (DWS), the Horizontal Testing System (HTS), the Deepwater Experimental Chamber (DEC), the SAGD flow loop, and the leak detection apparatus.
C-FER has also developed a strong reputation for running Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) to address key challenges faced by the industry as a whole. One of the largest JIPs, with more than 30 industry participants, resulted in the development of C-FER’s first software product called PC-PUMP®, which helps well operators and pump vendors design and operate progressing cavity pumping systems. Soon after, C-FER began to offer PC-PUMP courses to train operators around the world on this emerging technology.
One of the longest running JIPs developed and commercialized another software product – PIRAMID™, which is a risk-based integrity assessment and maintenance planning tool for pipelines. The software is used by pipeline operating companies around the world and is also used by C-FER as a unique consulting tool.
C-FER staff are well-known throughout the energy research community, and over the years, have authored over 470 technical papers and 14 patented technologies.
About Alberta Innovates
On November 1, 2016, the four former Alberta Innovates organizations Bio Solutions, Energy and Environment Solutions, Health Solutions and Technology Futures were consolidated into one organization.
Alberta Innovates (AI) is a provincially-funded Corporation tasked with delivering on the research and innovation priorities of the Government of Alberta. Alberta is blessed with abundant natural resources, world-class infrastructure and research institutions, a highly skilled workforce, and a dynamic, entrepreneurial business community. Alberta Innovates harnesses these strengths by acting as the catalyst between government, industry and academia, to solve some of the biggest challenges facing the province. This is accomplished by:
- Directing targeted funding toward game-changing projects and programs that support provincial innovation targets;
- Developing and implementing strategic research and innovation initiatives;
- Providing third-party technical counsel and support;
- Building and fostering networks, partnerships and collaborations – locally, nationally and internationally; and
- Leveraging relationships and connecting the right people to get things done.
Two wholly owned subsidiaries also fall under Alberta Innovates: Innotech Alberta includes the research providers that formerly formed part of Technology Futures and C-FER Technologies. InnoTech Alberta and C-FER Technologies are key components of the Alberta Innovates system that help private and public-sector organizations of all sizes transform their great ideas into commercial applications to support a thriving Alberta economy.
Our Alberta Innovates Connection
C-FER Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alberta Innovates but operates independently, working with industry to address critical engineering challenges. C-FER’s Board of Directors includes representatives from Alberta Innovates to help identify ways that C-FER can assist Alberta Innovates in meeting its goal of demonstrating economic and social benefit to Alberta.
Through Alberta Innovates, C-FER is able to access various provincial funding programs to support technology development and commercialization projects with industry.
C-FER also has access to various technical resources within our sister subsidiary, InnoTech Alberta. Their expertise includes areas that complement the services offered by C-FER, enabling joint projects over a broad spectrum of industries. This includes expertise in welding, advanced materials, corrosion, reservoir engineering, industrial sensors, and environmental sciences.