Cenovus in the oil sands

We have two major producing steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD, pronounced SAG-DEE) projects in the oil sands – Foster Creek and Christina Lake – as well as several other projects that are in various stages of development. Each project is built in phases, so we can apply what we learn from one phase to the next.

  • The oil on all of our approximately 1.5 million net acres of land leases in the oil sands (including 0.5 million net acres of land that we have the exclusive rights to lease) is deep under the ground, so all our projects are drilled.
  • Instead of removing the earth to get to the oil, we have to drill hundreds of metres below the ground and use SAGD, a specialized low-pressure, constant-steam technology, to bring the oil to the surface. Low pressure in this instance means at or close to original reservoir pressure, so the steam pressures we use to get the oil out don’t exceed the natural pressure that already exists underground.
  • Since the oil is extremely thick and embedded in sand, steam melts the oil so it can flow through the sand and be pumped to the surface. Once the oil reaches the surface, it is transported via pipeline to a refinery where it becomes fuel for cars, buses and planes, and petroleum by-products used in the making of plastics, synthetics and other materials.