The Jackfish Projects target bitumen reserves in formations that are too deep to access from the surface through open-pit mines, and too heavy to be brought to the surface with conventional oil wells and pumps used for producing light crude oil. Instead, a well-developed and commercially proven technology called Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, or SAGD, is being used for the projects. SAGD is considered the leading thermal heavy oil recovery technology in the Athabasca Oil Sands.
The SAGD process uses well "pairs" - a steam-injection well and a production well. Steam is injected into the oil sands formation through the first well. The heat liquefies the bitumen, which allows it to flow to the production well, located beneath the steam-injection well. The bitumen, along with the condensed water from the steam, flows to the surface wellhead.
At the surface, the bitumen is sent by an above-ground pipeline to a central processing facility where water, gas and impurities are removed.
A diluent is added to keep the bitumen in liquid form so that it can be pumped through pipelines to market.
Devon continues to investigate opportunities for technological improvements through research, funding and peer collaboration.