In-situ production methods are used on bitumen deposits buried too deep for mining to be
economical. These techniques include steam injection, solvent injection and
firefloods, in which oxygen is injected and part of the resource burned to
provide heat. So far, steam injection has been the favoured method.
Limited's Cold Lake project is Canada's largest in-situ bitumen recovery
project. The underground oil sands reservoir is heated with steam. This melts
the semi-solid bitumen and separates it from the accompanying sand. The bitumen
is pumped to the surface and diluted with condensate (liquids obtained from
natural gas production) for shipping by pipeline. Several other companies
operate large in-situ projects, and more are planned.
drilling increases the production per well considerably in some heavy oil and
bitumen formations, but the technology is not economical for all types of reservoirs.
Petroleum Communication Foundation. Our Petroleum Challenge: Exploring Canada's Oil and Gas Industry, Sixth Edition. Calgary: Petroleum Communication Foundation, 1999. With permission from the Centre for Energy.