ConocoPhillips Canada

Unconventional

Surmot, SAGD, oilsands
Our business keeps changing, so we keep changing the way we do business. Many hydrocarbon resources can be extracted using traditional techniques that the industry has been using, in one form or another, for over a hundred years. Other unconventional resources, such as oil and gas trapped in shale and tight sand formations, require advanced technology, innovative processes, and new thinking.

Our Surmont facility uses a process called steam-assisted gravity drainage – or SAGD  – to recover bitumen resources. SAGD involves injecting high temperature steam underground through a horizontal well to melt the bitumen, allowing it to flow to an adjacent horizontal well. From there, it is pumped to the surface for further processing.

Flow distribution control benefits both the steam injection and bitumen production parts of the process by encouraging a more even distribution of injected steam in the reservoir, and more even drainage of the melted bitumen. The system acts as a self-governing device that compensates for flow-rate changes, effectively improving the efficiency of the entire well. 

And improved efficiency means both improved project economics and improved environmental performance. By optimizing the distribution of steam in the reservoir and the drainage of the bitumen from it, we may be able to increase the amount of resource that we could extract per well. This means we’re producing more salable product for the same or less amount of steam, and potentially fewer wells. In other words, we’d be able to produce the same amount of product while producing fewer greenhouse gasses, using less water and disturbing less land.

The technical feasibility of flow distribution control is currently being tested.