Recovering Oil Sands
Two different methods are used to produce oil from the oil sands – surface mining and in-situ – or producing in place. Today, a majority of the oil derived from oil sands is obtained via surface mining, although only about 20 percent of all oil sand resources are recoverable through this method.
The remaining 80 percent of oil sands resources are recoverable through in-situ processing. This method is employed when the bitumen deposits are further underground. Most in-situ operations use steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). This involves pumping steam underground through a horizontal well to liquefy the bitumen and pump it to the surface. Current investments in advanced technology will make this method of extraction more widely used in the years to come.
To learn more about Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) and oil sands, see the SAGD and Oil Sands Video.
You can also view the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers video "Canada's Oil Sands: Come See for Yourself."