Cenovus Energy Inc. has received approval from the Alberta government to produce bitumen at the Narrows Lake project in northern Alberta, where it plans to use steam-assisted gravity drainage and demonstrate the solvent-aided process (SAP).
Gross production capacity is expected to be 130,000 b/d, developed in three phases. Work on the first phase, with capacity of 45,000 b/d, is expected to begin in the fall, Cenovus said.
The company and 50-50 partner ConocoPhillips still must approve the work.
Cenovus, the operator, plans initially to demonstrate SAP, in which a solvent is injected with steam, on 25% of the Narrow Lakes wells and eventually to phase in the application across the entire operation.
It would be the first use of SAP with butane on a commercial scale, Cenovus said. The company expects SAP to improve the steam-oil ratio (SOR) and oil production rate by as much as 30% from values achieved by SAGD alone and total oil recovery by as much as 15%.
With full addition of SAP, it says, the SOR might be as low as 1.6.
Narrows Lake is near Conklin, Alta., just north of the Christina Lake project where the Cenovus-ConocoPhillips combine is producing 58,000 b/d with SAGD. The companies have another SAGD project in Alberta, Foster Creek, producing about 120,000 b/d. Both projects are being expanded.