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Rising to the challenges

How do you get just the oil out of the oil sands when it’s compressed in sand, deep underground and can be as hard as a hockey puck? Our Rising to the challenges ad highlights how we’re overcoming those challenges.

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It wasn’t that long ago that drilling in the oil sands was thought to be impossible because most of the oil is embedded in sand deep underground. The breakthrough came when Dr. Roger Butler, an engineer with Imperial Oil, figured out that the oil could be separated and liquefied by injecting steam into the well. That led to technologies like steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD – pronounced SAG-DEE), a specialized technology we use to drill and pump the oil to the surface. We spend a lot of time learning about our oil sands reservoirs because each is unique and has different characteristics. For that reason, each of our projects requires new thinking to ensure we apply SAGD technology in the most efficient way.

Like any industry, we also face challenges when it comes to reducing our environmental impact. We’re focused on making smart environmental choices every day. We have a technology development team actively finding ways for us to be even better at what we do. It's challenging work, but we're persistent in our determination to continue to build and operate our projects efficiently and improve our performance.