Enhanced bitumen recovery from thin and low quality oil sands formations

Alberta’s oil sands are one of the world’s largest known hydrocarbon deposits. Currently, Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) is the commercial recovery method of choice. This requires large amounts of steam to be injected into the oil sands reservoirs, resulting in steam loss to the overburden. Companies continue to expand operations with new pad development. However, as the inventory of thick and clean pays declines, companies are forced to move to thin pays with thickness in the range of 5 to 10 meters. It is estimated that thin pays in Alberta Oil sands contain billions of barrels of bitumen resources. Companies face challenges associated with operating in thin pays. This includes higher steam loss to the overburden, resulting in higher SOR and sub-economic production. This project will concentrate on the development of a new technology for thin pays as well as process control logic for reservoir simulation. It is anticipated that the outcome of this project will help industry to produce bitumen at a lower cost and minimize environmental impacts.

Faculty Supervisor:

Hassan Hassanzadeh


Mohsen Zirrahi


Cenovus Energy Inc.


Engineering - chemical / biological



University of Calgary



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