An oil sands project
Our 100%-owned Narrows Lake asset received regulatory approval in 2012 and is expected to become our third major oil sands project. Located near our Christina Lake operations, about 150 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, Narrows Lake will use the same steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology already used at our two other oil sands projects (Christina Lake and Foster Creek). SAGD is a process that uses steam to separate oil from sand that's deep underground so it can be pumped to the surface.
In addition to using SAGD technology, we plan to employ a solvent-aided process (SAP) at Narrows Lake on a commercial scale. SAP is a modification of SAGD, which involves augmenting the steam injected into the reservoir by a natural-gas liquid that acts like a solvent, helping to thin the oil so that it flows more freely to the producing well. The natural-gas liquids we use are already naturally occurring in the reservoir at lower concentrations. We believe implementing SAP will allow us to use less steam overall, which means we'll use less water and burn less natural gas to create steam, which will mean lower greenhouse gas emissions per barrel.
When we commence construction, we plan to build the plant and facilities to have the flexibility to use different natural gas liquids. At this time, we are planning to use propane as our solvent at Narrows Lake, given the pricing advantages. Since our learnings from our most recent solvent pilot well at Christina Lake, we now expect to introduce solvents earlier in the startup of Narrows Lake. We expect the outcome of this change to increase phase A production to a maximum of 65,000 barrels of oil per day, dependent on the solvent chosen, compared with 45,000 barrels of oil per day previously.