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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Hydrocarbons > Oil Sands Resources > Resource Development > In-situ Bitumen Recovery > SAGD

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Steam—Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)

Oilsands developmentSAGD is a key technology that will be how most in-situ production is done in the years to come. Pairs of horizontal wells are drilled one above the other into the oil sands formation, and steam is injected into the upper well. The steam heats the oil sand and it softens and drains into the lower well, where it naturally flows to the surface. 

Whereas cyclic steam stimulation works best in formations like those near Cold Lake with good horizontal permeability, SAGD works better in deposits with good vertical permeability, like the Athabasca deposit near Fort McMurray.

Both cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) and SAGD use enormous amounts of natural gas to make the steam necessary to extract the bitumen. So in essence, developers are using energy to make energy.

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