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Mining the oil sands
Oil from oil sands, known as bitumen, is thick and heavy so it does not flow easily. Around 20% of the oil contained in the oil sands regions of Alberta is close enough to the surface for us to mine with large trucks and electric shovels.
Shell oil sands operations
At our Athabasca Oil Sands Project, we mine bitumen deposits that are within 75 metres (around 250 feet) of the surface. Mechanical shovels dig the sand and large trucks transport it to a treatment area. We then add warm water to help separate the bitumen from the clay and sand. Oil sands mining and extraction recovers around 90% of bitumen compared to about 35% recovery for oil from conventional reservoirs.
Scotford Upgrader, Alberta, Canada
We pipe the bitumen to our Scotford Upgrader plant for processing into synthetic crude oil. Refineries then use this to produce petroleum (gasoline), diesel fuel and other consumer products.