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Suncor in situ facilities combine for major milestone

Last Updated Nov 22, 2022 at 10:29 am MST

An aerial shot of the Firebag in situ project in the oil sands. Photo supplied by Suncor Energy.

Oilsands giant Suncor has announced its in situ operations have combined to produce its one billionth barrel of oil.

The company recognized the achievement at its MacKay River and Firebag facilities, which began operating in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

Dale Bayford is a senior operations support trainer at Firebag.

During his 40-year career with Suncor, he worked on in situ pilot projects with the company before the commissioning of Firebag.

“The start-up of Firebag was really something. If you didn’t see it from the beginning, you’d hardly believe what’s there today. There wasn’t a lot built in the early days.”

Both Firebag and MacKay River use a steam-assisted gravity drainage process, which is commonly known in the industry as SAGD.

Steam would reach bitumen deposits too deep for conventional mining, heating the product for it to reach the surface where it’s processed and piped to Suncor’s upgrading facilities.

“The location of Firebag was chosen because of an unbelievable oil reserve. There was no question about the quality of the reservoir.”

Under normal operations, they can produce 250-thousand barrels of bitumen per day, including 215-thousand from Firebag.

“One billion barrels is an exciting milestone for Suncor’s in situ operations,” Said Shelley Powell, Suncor’s senior Vice President of E&P and In Situ. “I’m incredibly proud of all of our employees and contractors who’ve contributed to the success of MacKay River and Firebag over the past 20-plus years.”

MacKay River recently celebrated 20 years of production.