AOSTRA underground test facility: progress and potential

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 83, No. 938, 1990

J.A. Hasten, R.W. Luhning and S.D. Gittins, AOSTRA

The Underground Test Facility (UTF) project operated by the Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA) north of Fort McMurray has achieved marked success in field testing mining access and horizontal well in situ recovery of bitumen from the Athabasca oil sands. Mine access has provided for effective placing and operation of horizontal wells in the oil sands from a tunnel system in the underlying limestone. Performance of the in situ recovery process, Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, has substantially exceeded forecasts made at the start of the project. Over-all results of the program to date show great promise for horizontal well in situ technology as a competitive source of bitumen from Alberta's vast oil sands deposits. The potential economics of a commercial expansion at the site are reviewed in this paper.
Keywords: AOSTRA, Oil sands, Mine development, Athabasca oil sands, Underground test facility, Mineral economics.