An emerging oil sands project
Our Telephone Lake project is one of our emerging oil sands assets, located in northern Alberta about 90 kilometres northeast of Fort McMurray. It is 100 percent owned by Cenovus. This project will use steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology, which is a process that uses steam to separate oil from sand that’s deep underground and wells to access the oil so it can be pumped to the surface.
Our Telephone Lake project is unique because it has a layer of groundwater above the oil. This layer of water is fresh but naturally contains traces of oil, meaning it’s not suitable for human consumption or agricultural use without substantial treatment. Before we can begin using SAGD technology in this area we have to remove and relocate this layer of groundwater. If we left the water sitting on top of the oil, it would cool the steam in our recovery process, requiring us to use more natural gas to heat the water to make the steam necessary for SAGD.
We completed a pilot project in 2013 to remove the layer of water sitting on top of the Telephone Lake oil sands deposit through a process called dewatering. The pilot proved we can safely relocate this layer of water to another area in the reservoir, which will make the oil recovery process more efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the production process.