Saskatchewan’s oilsands are primarily being developed/explored by Cenovus. Cenovus bought Oilsands Quests’ Saskatchewan properties a few years ago and have added them to their (Cenovus’) Telephone Lake project.
The Telephone Lake project would be developed using Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage or SAGD (pronounced Sag – D). This project does not see the land disturbed as it is in the traditional oilsands project – this traditional style is called “mining” which sees the land stripped of topsoil, the oil sand removed, and then the topsoil replaced.
This is how SAGD project look – it resembles and is called “drilling” not “mining.”
Here is a video on how they do SAGD.
SAGD sees salt-water taken from deep underground (water not suitable for drinking or irrigation) which is converted into steam. The steam is pumped underground into the top of the oilsands deposits, which then melts the oil and it flows into a second pipe placed below the steam pipe. The oil and water is pumped to the surface, where the two are separated and the water reused while the oil is sent for processing.
The SAGD process is economical at lower oil prices; at $40 US for WTI the netback is $4, at $50 US for WTI the netback is $14, and at $60 US for WTI the netback is $23.
IconOil is also drilling into Saskatchewan’s oilsands northwest of Meadow Lake.