Our technology team is advancing in situ technologies which have the potential to lower our GHG emissions and increase energy efficiency by reducing steam use from in situ operations.

“We are excited to be advancing technologies that have the potential to lower costs, reduce the steam to oil ratio and lower GHG emissions intensity. Our work has game-changing potential for in situ extraction and could play a key role in the future of bitumen supply,” says Claire Greenwood, VP Development.

Through a collaboration with Imperial on a 50-50 joint investment pilot, we are advancing a field trial of Enhanced Bitumen Recovery Technology (EBRT). EBRT is an oil sands in situ technology designed to improve environmental and economic performance. The process, developed by Imperial, uses a light hydrocarbon to replace most of the injected steam – as much as 90 per cent compared to current methods.

Based on the research, it is expected the technology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and intensity from oil sands in situ extraction facilities by approximately 60 per cent compared to conventional steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) production methods.

As the technology operates at low to medium pressures, it may enable recovery from reservoirs not previously considered viable.

“Collaboration is key to accelerating the development of this technology for commercial use. We value our relationship with Imperial in paving the way for more valuable supply options in the future,” says Chris Baker, Manager Development Engineering.

The field trial is expected to start up by 2027 on Imperial’s Aspen lease.

Doing more with Expanding Solvent SAGD (ES-SAGD)

We are also continuing to pursue Expanding Solvent SAGD (ES-SAGD) technology. The ES-SAGD process involves partially replacing some of the steam with a hydrocarbon solvent to improve oil recovery rates, energy efficiency and economics.

“Through a half-pad pilot in 2019, we were able to validate the benefits of this technology and the expected oil rate increase by approximately 30 per cent, a steam-to-oil ratio (SOR) reduction by approximately 20 per cent and reduce GHG emissions intensity by 30 per cent compared to current SAGD operations,” says Jayanto Ghoshal, Specialist Development Engineer, Technology. “And then in late 2022, we started a full pad demo at our Firebag site—which is still ongoing—to further evaluate production performance and solvent recovery to de-risk the technology.”

Pending a successful demonstration, the ES-SAGD technology is expected to be ready for commercial deployment in our in situ projects as early as 2027.

Developing a portfolio of in situ technologies is necessary for our business to be resilient for the long term. We continue to harness technologies to improve the safety, reliability, productivity and environmental performance across all our operations.