Total and ConocoPhillips have announced the sanction of the Surmont Phase 2 SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) development in Canada. The project, slated to begin initial construction in 2010, will increase Surmont’s production capacity from 27 000 – 11 000 bbls of bitumen per day.
The Surmont project is located approximately 60 km southeast of Fort McMurray, Alberta, in the Athabasca oilsands region. Surmont is operated by ConocoPhillips Canada and is a 50/50 joint venture with Total E&P Canada. Phase two is scheduled to begin production in early 2015.
SAGD is a thermal production technology used to recover bitumen from the oilsands. This process has a limited environmental footprint and relies on well pairs of long horizontal drains. Steam is injected into the upper well to lower the bitumen viscosity in the reservoir. The bitumen mixed with hot water flows to the lower well, from which it is then pumped to the surface. In the surface processing facilities, the water is separated from the bitumen, treated and recycled to the steam generators. The bitumen is diluted and sent by pipeline for upgrading and refining.
For Surmont SAGD, a collaborative effort is underway with ConocoPhillips to develop technologies for both energy efficiency and CO2 capture and storage (CCS). Among those technologies and processes, Total and ConocoPhillips are looking into ways to inject lighter hydrocarbons into the wells along with the steam to lower the viscosity of the oil, which will reduce the requirement of steam and therefore the emissions of associated CO2.