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Home > Innovation and New Technology > Research and Technology > Oil Sands > Steam—Assisted Gravity Drainage

Research and Technology

Steam—Assisted Gravity Drainage

Steam—Assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is the drilling of two horizontal wells into the oil sands, where steam is injected into the top well so it may flow to the bottom well, where it is pumped to the surface. Its major limitation has been that it requires large amounts of steam. 

Now, this breakthrough oil sands production technology developed in Alberta is experiencing another breakthrough. Dr. Roger Butler and his team at the U of C are now working on two variations of SAGD: the Vapex (vapor extraction) process—which involves the injection of solvent vapors into the reservoir, and SAGP process—in which gas is added to the steam of SAGD, thereby decreasing steam consumption by approximately 70 percent. Supporters of this technology include such major corporations as Wascana Energy Inc., Shell Canada, Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. and Imperial Oil Ltd.

Alberta Research Council. Alberta: The Spirit of Innovation with permission from the Alberta Research Council.

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