Advanced technologies developed over many yearsare used to produce oil from oil sands.
Getting oil from oil sands is nothing new.
Oil sands are geologic formations thatcontain a mixture of thick, heavy oil, water and sand. The heavy oil is calledbitumen, which is defined as oil that istoo heavy or thick to flow or be pumped without being diluted or heated.Two different methods are used toproduce oil from the oil sands –surfacemining and in-situ –or producing inplace. Today, a majority of the oil derivedfrom oil sands is obtained via surfacemining, although only about 20 percentof all oil sand resources are recoverablethrough this method. This process is used when bitumen is close to the surface.
The remaining 80 percent of oil sandsresources are recoverable through in-situprocessing. This method is employed when the bitumen deposits are furtherunderground. Most in-situ operationsuse steam-assisted gravity drainage(SAGD). This involves pumping steamunderground through a horizontal well to liquefy the bitumen and pumpit to the surface.
Current investmentsin advanced technology will make thismethod of extraction more widely usedin the years to come.Use of oil derived from oil sands inthe U.S. is not new. Projects involvingmining and in-situ techniques weredeveloped throughout the 1960s and1970s. After decades of research,Canada was producing up to 129,000barrels per day by 1978.
Source: Canadian Centre for Energy Information.Source: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
1 www.capp.ca2 CRS Report to Congress, “North American OilSands : History of Development, Prospects for the Future,” January 17, 2008.1