The oil sands
Canada is fortunate to have an oil resource with enough oil to meet the country's current energy demand for generations. Unlike conventional oil, most of the oil in the oil sands doesn’t flow naturally, so it requires unconventional methods to access it.
- If the oil is deep under the ground, it’s drilled and pumped to the surface using specialized technology like steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). About 80 percent of the oil in the oil sands is so deep underground that it has to be drilled.
- If the oil is close to the surface, it’s mined. About 20 percent of the oil in the oil sands is close enough to the surface that it has to be mined.
Companies have been mining in the oil sands for more than 40 years. Drilling in the oil sands, on the other hand, has only been commercially viable for the past decade. Cenovus has no mining projects. In fact, the oil on all of our approximately 1.3 million net acres of land leases in the oil sands (includes 0.3 million net acres that we have exclusive rights to lease) is deep underground, which means we use specialized technology, like SAGD, to drill and pump the oil to the surface.
A full 79 percent of the world's known oil reserves are state-owned or state-controlled. Only 21 percent are openly accessible to international oil companies. Of that 21 percent, over half are in Canada's oil sands.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration