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Oil sands contain a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen, an extra-heavy oil that is too thick to be pumped without first being diluted or heated.

Massive trucks haul bitumen-bearing ore for processing at the Muskeg River Mine, part of Chevron's Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.

Massive trucks haul bitumen-bearing ore for processing at the Muskeg River Mine, part of Chevron's Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada.

What Chevron Is Doing

Effectively retrieving oil from sand is a tough challenge. Chevron is using its vast resources of technology and expertise to help bring this energy source to market.

At the Athabasca Oil Sands Project's (AOSP) Muskeg River and Jackpine mines in Alberta, Canada, giant shovels capable of scooping nearly 100 tons of bitumen-bearing oil sands in one bite make the job easier. Workers at mine sites need to extract more than two tons of oil sands to produce one barrel—42 gallons—of usable crude oil. Chevron holds a 20 percent nonoperated interest in the project.

In order to extract the bitumen from the oil sands, the ore is mixed with warm water to create a slurry. This slurry is fed into a processing unit where the bitumen is separated from the water and sand mixture. The extracted bitumen is diluted with a special solvent and then sent via pipeline to an upgrading facility near Edmonton, where it is transformed into a wide range of premium low-sulfur and low-viscosity synthetic crude oils.

Chevron is part of the Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project—the first CCS project in the Canadian oil sands. This innovative project, approved in 2012 by the AOSP partners, is designed to capture more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide annually from AOSP's Scotford Upgrader, transport it approximately 50 miles (80 km) by pipeline and then permanently store it more than one mile (2 km) underground. This is expected to reduce direct emissions from the upgrader by as much as 35 percent—equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the roads annually. Construction was under way in 2014 and continued into 2015.

Updated: May 2015

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