He runs a small Calgary-based firm, Nsolv, that is testing the use of solvents to liquefy the bitumen buried in the sands and make it flow as oil. Kuhach says using solvents can cut 20 to 40 percent from the cost of producing the oil.
The technique currently used is to use steam to heat the sands underground to extract the oil.
Carmon Creek is wholly owned by Shell, which said it expected the decision to cost billion in its third-quarter results, due to impairment, contract provision, redundancy and restructuring charges.
Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellow-to-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface.
Shell's cancellation of the 80,000 barrel per day Carmon Creek project comes after the Anglo-Dutch oil major halted its search for oil off the Alaskan coast last month at a cost of several billion dollars.
The decision also comes as Washington procrastinates over whether to approve the huge Keystone XL oil pipeline to transport crude from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, which has been delayed over environmental concerns.
An Inside Climate News analysis of the company's financial disclosures shows that Exxon's oil sands reserves grew dramatically over the past decade.
Doing so has deepened the company's dependence on an oil source that some economists say Since 2007, Exxon's tar sands reserves grew to 5.1 billion barrels from 1.4 billion barrels, nearly quadrupling.
They are searching for a breakthrough that will cut the cost of pumping the tar-like oil from the country's vast underground bitumen reservoirs and better compete with the booming shale industry in the United States.If they fail, a bigger chunk of the world's third-largest oil reserves will stay in the ground.Canada's oil sands sector has become one of the biggest victims of the global oil price crash that began in 2014 when top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia flooded the market with cheap crude to drive out high cost competitors.The group published a response to Exxon that same year warning that international efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions increasingly will turn tar sands and other high-cost projects into bad investments.Alberta's long-awaited and much over-hyped Royalties Framework Report makes the case that the United States, once our biggest customer, is now our biggest competitor in world oil markets. Although the US has substantially ramped up shale oil production in the past 8 years, much of that oil is far too light for its own refineries.And that's creating a serious imbalance in North America's energy markets.