Our current method of in-situ extraction is called steam-assisted gravity drainage – or SAGD. By injecting steam into an oil reservoir, we use heat to melt the subsurface bitumen, and then pump it to a nearby facility where it can be processed and prepared for sale. e-SAGD, or enhanced steam-assisted gravity drainage, involves adding a mixture of light hydrocarbons to the injected steam, which allows us to extract more oil using less steam.
The light hydrocarbon and steam mixture melts the bitumen much faster, so we don’t have to inject as much steam to get the same amount of oil. This reduces the amount of water and the natural gas we need to use, which benefits both project economics and the environment.
We burn natural gas to create the steam for the injection process. By using less steam, we may be able to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of bitumen produced by as much as 15-35 percent, and also reduce the amount of source water we use.
An e-SAGD pilot is currently underway at our Surmont facility (which is a 50/50 joint venture with Total Exploration and Production Canada). If the test results look promising, we will evaluate broader application of the process.