Excelsior expects that the application of the COGD recovery process could result in significantly improved bitumen economics through both enhanced recovery gains and substantial reductions in the amount of required water, fuel gas and diluent. As a result, the Company will be focussing its resources towards an experimental in situ COGD pilot project. A project application will be submitted in Q2 2009 with anticipated regulatory approval in approximately one year for the subsequent implementation and commissioning of the pilot in Q1 2011.
“We are excited by the potential opportunity to test COGD in a field-level experimental project.” commented Robert Bailey, Excelsior’s Chief Operating Officer. “COGD is a proprietary recovery process designed by Excelsior and its advisors to address the key economic, environmental and investment issues confronting the development of the Athabasca oil sands. A successful pilot project would transform the thermal recovery of bitumen and position Excelsior as a leader in the successful development and application of in situ combustion bitumen recovery.”
Combustion Overhead Gravity Drainage Process
The COGD process has been designed to address key economic, environmental and investment factors facing bitumen producers today; specifically, high capital and operating costs, and the use of large quantities of water, fuel gas and diluent. These key factors will be addressed by:
1. A significant reduction in water usage for steam generation by up to 80% compared to a similar sized SAGD process.
2. A significant reduction in fuel gas consumption for steam generation by up to 80% compared to a similar sized SAGD process, as COGD uses the in situ energy of the bitumen which would otherwise be unrecoverable.
3. A significant reduction in diluent demand as a result of potential in situ bitumen upgrading.
4. A reduced environmental impact through decreased water draw and water recycling, decreased fuel gas and diluent demand.
5. Significantly improved project economics as COGD recoveries are estimated to be as much as 50% greater than SAGD recoveries, and capital and operating costs are estimated to be considerably lower than comparable SAGD projects.
COGD employs an array of vertical air injector ignition wells above a horizontal production well located at the base of the bitumen pay zone. A short initial period of steaming prepares the cold bitumen for ignition and develops enhanced bitumen mobility in the reservoir. Upon ignition a combustion chamber develops above and along the length of the horizontal well with combustion gases segregated in the upper part of the reservoir and hot bitumen flowing by gravity into the horizontal production well.
The Company is in the final stages of preparing an application to the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (“ERCB”) and Alberta Environment (“AENV”) for an experimental pilot project. The experimental project will seek approval to operate three COGD well arrays with a production target of up to 1,000 barrels of bitumen per day. Excelsior will also seek Confidential Status from the ERCB for the experimental pilot operating results. Through its bitumen-core drilling program this winter Excelsior has obtained all the necessary information to support an experimental pilot application. Upon a successful pilot project, an application would then be made for a commercial-scale 10,000 barrel per day development project. As a result of the redirected strategy the Hangingstone 10,000 bopd SAGD demonstration project application has been suspended given the more attractive economic potential of a successful COGD bitumen recovery pilot.
Excelsior has also applied for IETP (Innovative Energy Technology Program) funding for its proprietary COGD technology. If successful the funding will be in the form of a royalty credit to be used against future production. Opportunities to attract Federal funding targeting energy research and sustainable development are also under review. Excelsior is currently funded to complete the pilot project application and sustain project development efforts through 2010.
About Excelsior Energy
Excelsior is active in oil sands exploration and appraisal in the Hangingstone and West Surmont areas near Fort McMurray, Alberta and will hold a 75% working interest in 58 contiguous sections on completion of its farm-in obligations. The Company also indirectly holds a 75% working interest in Blocks 16/1a and 16/6c in the UK North Sea and a minor interest in gas production in Alberta. Excelsior’s strategy is to capture oil and gas appraisal and development opportunities where we can leverage Management’s diverse international experience and field development expertise. This includes heavy oil reservoir engineering and development of complex fields.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Management’s assessment of future plans and operations, expected production levels, operating costs, capital expenditures, the nature of capital expenditures, methods of financing capital expenditures, future engineering reports and the timing of increases in production may constitute forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws and necessarily involve risks including, without limitation, risks associated with oil and gas exploration, development, exploitation, production, marketing and transportation, loss of markets, volatility of commodity prices, currency fluctuations, imprecision of reserve estimates, environmental risks, competition from other producers, inability to retain drilling rigs and other services, incorrect assessment of the value of acquisitions, failure to realize the anticipated benefits of acquisitions, delays resulting from or inability to obtain required regulatory approvals and ability to access sufficient capital from internal and external sources. As a consequence, the Company’s actual results may differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. Additional information on these and other factors that could effect the Company’s operations and financial results are included in reports on file with Canadian securities regulatory authorities and may be accessed through the SEDAR website (sedar.com). Furthermore, the forward looking statements contained in this press release are made as at the date of this press release and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or to revise any of the included forward looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws.