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Ivanhoe submits regulatory application for Tamarack SAGD project

By OGJ editors
-- Ivanhoe Energy Inc. submitted a regulatory application to the government of Alberta for producing bitumen from the Tamarack steam-assisted gravity drainage project in northeast Alberta.

The application involves two 20,000 b/d phases for an eventual production of 40,000 b/d of bitumen. Ivanhoe said production from the first phase may start toward yearend 2013, subject to receiving regulatory approvals from the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Environment.

It expects the regulatory process to require 18-24 months and to commence construction in mid-2012.

Tamarack is on a 6,880-acre contiguous block about 10 miles northeast of Fort McMurray. Ivanhoe holds a 100% working interest in the project, subject only to a 20% back-in right held by Talisman Energy Inc., which expires in mid-2011.

Ivanhoe's independent reserve evaluator, GLJ Petroleum Consultants Ltd., has estimated that the block contains 441 million bbl of contingent resources.

For the project, the company expects to drill from 12 well pads about 160 SAGD well pairs to fully develop and produce the area.

The project also will involve the installation at the field of Ivanhoe's proprietary heavy-to-light (HTL) upgrading process for converting heavy, viscous crude oil to a lighter, transportable synthetic crude that commands a higher price and does not require light oil as a blending agent for transport. In addition, the project will not require natural gas for steam generation because the process coverts on site upgrading byproducts into steam or power that can be used in field operations.

The HTL process also allows for the capture of the majority of the value differential between light and heavy oil resulting in enhanced profitability and reduced earnings volatility, the company said.

Ivanhoe listed several environmental benefits in the design of the projects such as no freshwater use, a water recycle rate of more that 95%, and state-of-the-art air emission controls. It said that its integration of HTL into the project has advantages over upgraders such as a smaller carbon footprint, avoidance of large accumulations of coke by-products, and virtual elimination of natural gas consumption.

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