One of ConocoPhillips Canada’s (CPC) active technology programs involved working jointly with InnoTech Alberta as part of the Steam Additives Industry Research Program (STEADi) to identify commercially available chemical additives to steam. These additives, specifically surfactants, have the potential to improve the performance of SAGD operations by increasing oil drainage rates while reducing energy losses. This results in improved thermal efficiency, reduced GHG emissions intensity, and incremental oil production.
Through STEADi, CPC identified a commercially available, low cost, chemical surfactant additive ready for ‘first of kind’ field demonstration. The proposed pilot will seek to quantify the operational benefits and performance of steam additives and determine commercial operating requirements. Pilot success in addressing remaining uncertainties is expected to advance the technology to Readiness Level 9 by 2023. A commercial path forward for both brown- and green-field applications is expected to result in GHG intensity reductions of at least 10% and 20%+, respectively.
Field pilot execution is proposed in four well pairs tied to existing facilities at the Surmont SAGD (end user) facility. GHG intensity reduction of 20%, equivalent to 15 kg-CO2e/bbl, or approximately 20,000 tCO2e/yr, are expected at the pilot area.
The pilot aligns with the ERA strategic focus area to achieve cleaner oil and gas production, which is a GHG intensive sector. Using surfactants to reduce produced emulsion viscosities is an innovative approach to SAGD production and will enable GHG footprint reduction of Alberta’s fossil fuel supply chain by more efficiently producing reservoirs, meaning tonnes of steam required for each unit of bitumen production are reduced resulting in a Scope 1 GHG emissions from natural gas combustion intensity improvement.