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Blog: Steam injection commences at the Saleski Grosmont Carbonate Oil Sands Pilot
December 23, 2010
Laricina Energy Ltd. announces it has commenced the injection of steam into the Grosmont carbonate formation at its Saleski pilot project (Saleski Pilot). Laricina believes that the Saleski Pilot, which has an approved capacity of up to 1,800 barrels per day, is the world’s first steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project in the Grosmont carbonate formation, one of Alberta’s largest in situ bitumen resources.

Saleski is located within the West Athabasca oil sands region and lies approximately 195 kilometres northeast of Slave Lake, Alberta. The Saleski Pilot is unique in that it is designed to enhance industry’s proven SAGD extraction method " by combining steam with solvents, a process called solvent-cyclic SAGD or SC-SAGD. The primary objective of the Saleski Pilot is to understand the technical parameters of the reservoir in order to optimize the application of the SC-SAGD process for commercial development.

In addition, the Saleski Pilot will help Laricina confirm the Grosmont as an economic formation for SAGD, test specific well design and well placement to exploit the dualzone carbonate opportunity of the C and D zones in the formation, and assist in establishing production performance curves for both SAGD and SC-SAGD for the Grosmont.

The plan for the Saleski Pilot is, in the initial stage, consistent with industry practice for SAGD projects. The first two of three well-pairs will be steamed for a period of approximately 90 to 120 days to heat up the reservoir and establish communication between the injector and producer wells prior to the conversion to bitumen production. The steaming process will be closely monitored to determine the optimum timing for conversion to production based on reservoir response. Once these two well-pairs are converted to production Laricina plans to operate them for a short period of time to evaluate performance. One of the well-pairs will continue operating with steam alone for approximately one year in order to validate longer term conventional SAGD performance. The second well-pair is expected to be suspended but will be used to continue to monitor and provide valuable information in describing the steam, heat and fluid interaction between the C and D zones in the Grosmont Formation. The second stage and the unique aspect of the Saleski Pilot is the injection of solvents with reduced steam that will follow the well performance validation. Excess steam capacity will be used to restart-up the second well-pair which will be operated using the SC-SAGD process. This steam to solvent sequence is planned to be repeated with the third well-pair to continue the evaluation of the reservoir.

The start up of the Saleski Pilot is a significant milestone for Laricina and is the culmination of a great deal of thought, testing, disciplined work, problem-solving and perseverance by the Laricina team. It is a significant step in Laricina’s journey towards commercial-scale production which began only five short years ago.

Laricina has developed a virtual tour to allow shareholders and stakeholders to visit the Saleski Pilot. The tour gives an overview of where Saleski is located in relation to nearby infrastructure, and describes each of the major components of the project in detail.

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