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Oil sands 101

Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world – 97 percent of which are in the oil sands in northern Alberta. That’s more than 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

Oil sands 101

Accessing the oil sands

Accessing the oil in the oil sands isn’t easy because the oil is thick and embedded in sand. Thanks to a lot of hard work and perseverance, there are now two ways the oil can be accessed.


Mining (20%)

Only oil that’s close to the surface – less than 70 metres underground – can be mined. This shallow oil accounts for 20% of the oil sands and is located in a relatively small area close to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Drilling (80%)

80 percent of the oil sands is so deep underground that it can only be accessed by drilling – which is why drilling is the only method that Cenovus uses in the oil sands.