The U.S. also benefits from its proximity to Canada, the world's sixth-largest oil producer. Virtually all of Canada’s crude oil exports come to the U.S. Canada’s production is also rising rapidly, in this case, due to development of the oil sands in Alberta.
What are oil sands?
Oil sands are geologic formations containing a mixture of extra-heavy oil, water and sand. The petroleum resource found in the oil sands – called bitumen – is too thick for conventional extraction methods. Enhanced oil recovery methods must be used in order to make extraction viable.
In its natural state, bitumen is very similar in consistency to hard rubber. Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) is an advanced extraction method in which two horizontal wells are drilled into an oil reservoir and high-pressure steam is continuously injected into the upper well. The SAGD method heats the oil and reduces its viscosity, allowing it to drain into the producing well.
The potential of oil sands
Some of the largest oil sands deposits in the world are found in the Athabasca region of Northeast Alberta, Canada. ConocoPhillips holds approximately 900 thousand net acres of land in this region of Canada with deposits estimated to contain approximately 15 billion net barrels of resource, making us one of the leading SAGD producers and acreage and resource holders in the Canadian oil sands sector.
Meeting U.S. demand
Importing oil sands resources currently supports thousands of U.S. jobs in the pipeline, refining and marketing industries. As oil sands production and investment in Canada increases, so will the demand for U.S. goods and services. This demand is expected to add $5.8 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2015, $12.9 billion in 2020 and $26.6 billion in 2025. In total, the development of Canadian oil sands will create millions of new North American jobs and provide billions in economic activity, while improving North American energy security.
We are committed to environmental stewardship in the development of our projects, including oil sands. Technologies used for oil sands development are continuously improving and reducing their production’s environmental footprint.