CANADIAN oil giant Imperial Oil has applied for regulatory permission for a C$2bn (US$1.5bn) oil sands project that will cut down on CO2 emissions and water usage.
The Calgary-based company has filed applications with the Alberta State Regulator for an in-situ solvent-assisted, steam-assisted gravity drainage (SA-SAGD) oil sands plant near its existing Cold Lake operations.
The SA-SAGD technology can produce up to 25% less CO2 emissions in comparison with existing steam-assisted gravity drainage technology as the technique involves mixing solvents – butane, condensate and other petroleum based liquids – with steam at well sites, thereby reducing the energy required to loosen underground seams of bitumen buried too deep to mine.
Imperial said in a statement, “Based on Imperial’s research, it is expected that SA-SAGD will result in reduction in greenhouse gas intensity compared with existing technology through lower energy input per barrel of bitumen recovered. A similar reduction in water use intensity is also expected.”
The project is expected to produce approximately 50,000 bbl/d of bitumen. Imperial expects construction to begin in 2019, and production to commence in 2022 if the company’s proposal is approved by the regulator.
Imperial is also investigating if it can use the solvent technique at another proposed project on its Aspen site, currently a steam-driven development costing the company as much as C$7bn. A decision on the project – which could pump up to 135,000 bbl/d of bitumen – has yet to be reached.
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