Connacher starts up Algar SAGD plant

Guntis Moritis
OGJ Production Editor

HOUSTON, June 23 -- Connacher Oil & Gas Ltd. reported the start up of its 10,000 b/d Algar steam-assisted gravity drainage plant at its Great Divide oil sands complex in northeastern Alberta.

Algar is the company's second 10,000 b/d plant at Great Divide. Production from the first plant started in 2007.

Connacher said the Algar plant design allows for a subsequent expansion for processing 34,000 b/d of bitumen and generating more than 100,000 b/d of steam.

Connacher expects to file for regulatory approvals for the expansion in late 2011, add 24,000 b/d of bitumen production capacity in 2012, and start production in 2013.

The expansion would increase the Great Divide Pod 1 bitumen production capacity to 44,000 b/d.

Connacher explained that its SAGD process includes high-temperature electrical submersible pumps, natural gas coinjection, and steam containing solvents to enhance well productivity and recoveries.

The Algar project included the construction of three well pads for 17 horizontal SAGD well pairs. To date, Connacher said it is circulating steam in 14 well pairs to heat the McMurray reservoir before actual steam injection. It plans to start steaming the remaining three well pairs in the next few days.

The company expects full steam injection and bitumen production in August or about 90 days after steam circulation commence in May.

Connacher forecasts bitumen production at Algar will approach 7,000 b/d by yearend and average about 6,740 b/d during the fourth quarter.

Regarding environment considerations, Connacher notes that the plant design includes caribou crossings at key points, recycling of more than 90% of the water used in the steam boilers, and the use of subsurface non-potable water. It also has under construction a cogeneration plant for power and supplemental steam.

The company plans to sell the surplus power generated from the plant to the regional grid, thereby reducing the use of power generated by coal power plants.

Connacher said its goal is to surpass 50,000 b/d of bitumen production from the Great Divide main lease block by 2015.

Contact Guntis Moritis at guntism@ogjonline.com.

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