What is In Situ?
There are two different methods of producing oil from oilsands: open-pit mining and in situ (latin, meaning “in place”) technology. Bitumen close to the surface is mined. Bitumen deep within the ground is produced in situ using specialized extraction techniques.
About 80 percent of oilsands reserves (which underlie approximately 97 percent of the oilsands’ surface area) are recoverable through in situ technology, with limited surface disturbance.
Advances in technology, such as directional drilling, enable in situ operations to drill multiple wells (sometimes more than 20) from a single location, further reducing surface disturbance.
The majority of in situ operations use steam-assisted gravity drainage, or SAGD. In this method, steam is pumped underground through a horizontal well to liquefy the bitumen, which is then pumped to the surface through a second well.