Using currently available technology and under the current economic conditions, there are 170.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the oil sands deposits of Northern Alberta.

There are 315 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil in the oil sands. Some of this oil would require more favourable economic conditions or new technology to extract and process.

Approximately 80% of oil sands are recoverable through in-situ production, with only 20% recoverable by mining.

Recovery rate percentages vary depending on the method of extraction:

  • 5-10% for primary recovery of conventional oil.
  • Up to 20% using conventional enhanced oil recovery methods such as water flood or polymer flood.
  • Up to 35-40% bitumen using cyclic steam stimulation.
  • Up to 50-60% of bitumen using steam assisted gravity drainage.
  • Up to 90% of bitumen from mining.

Assessment of Prospects

People interested in beginning an oil sands projects have multiple tools at their disposal to determine the best place to acquire rights for exploration:

  • Geological appraisals: aerial surveys, field surveys
  • Geophysical assessment: seismic, magnetic, gravitational
  • Examination of publicly available records. These are often records resulting from previous exploration efforts.