Imperial to move its Cold Lake solvent-assisted SAGD wells into commercial operations

Imperial Oil's Cold Lake thermal oilsands project. Image: Imperial Oil

The solvent-assisted SAGD pilot that Imperial Oil has been operating at Cold Lake since 2010 will soon be considered “experimental” no more.

The company has applied to the Alberta Energy Regulator to terminate its approval for the SA-SAGD experimental scheme, but still operate the wells as part of its 160,000-bbl/d Cold Lake operation.

“This is an application to transfer the SA-SAGD pilot to the existing Cold Lake commercial approval and discontinue the experimental scheme at the end of 2016. There are no changes to the operation,” says Imperial spokeswoman Lisa Schmidt.

The company’s application to the AER says the purpose of the pilot was to evaluate the effectiveness of SA-SAGD in the field, and that evaluation is now complete.

“SA-SAGD involves the injection of a small fraction of hydrocarbon solvent in the injected stream in a dual horizontal well configuration,” Imperial’s manager, heavy oil in situ John Elliott wrote in the AER submission.

“Based on the outcome of this pilot, Imperial has demonstrated that SA-SAGD results in an increase in bitumen rates and improvement in the oil steam ratio relative to the standard SAGD process.”

Imperial’s proposed Aspen in situ project would be its first commercial-scale SA-SAGD project. Earlier this month, Alberta environment and parks announced the environmental assessment report for Aspen has been deemed complete. Regulatory approval is still pending, but Imperial has said an investment decision could come as early as 2017.

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