Pelican Lake Crude Oil

Pelican Lake Crude Oil

Pelican Lake is a premium asset within Canadian Natural’s portfolio. We have had great success with enhanced oil recovery in this pool, first with water floods and now with polymer floods. Pelican Lake is a large, shallow crude oil pool in our Northern Plains core region. Although initially developed with primary production, we started converting portions of the field to water flood in 2004, resulting in a significant production increase which reversed the previous three years of production decline. Building on that success, we began testing polymer flooding in 2005. This enhanced oil recovery technique has proven to be much more effective than water flooding and as such, we converted more of the field to polymer flood. In late 2017 the Company added to its strategic position at this world class pool with the purchase of certain Pelican Lake assets. The addition of these lands consolidates Canadian Natural’s ownership of 100% of the lands in the pool and will allow for opportunities to capture synergies in servicing, facility operation and area management.

Polymer is a non-toxic chemical powder that we mix with water to create an injectable solution that has a viscosity similar to olive oil. The application of the polymer flood increases oil recovery since the thicker polymer solution improves sweep efficiency and reduces by-passed oil in the reservoir. Polymer flooding has the potential to increase ultimate recovery to approximately 28% of the original oil in place at a relatively low cost; approximately $2 to $3 per barrel of incremental operating cost.

Since converting from primary production to the polymer flood requires us to re-pressurize the reservoir with the polymer solution, the full response from the polymer flood is typically seen 9 to 24 months from injection. As in any water flood, optimizing water handling is key to the process – polymer flooding is no different. We recycle more than 90% of our produced water, and we utilize brackish water to mix with the polymer. We have been operating in the area for more than 15 years and our staff has done a tremendous job adapting to new technology while minimizing our operating and capital costs. We are continually working on enhancements to the process to optimize our field operations. We are testing the polymer flood in regions with poor crude oil quality and continue to optimize the quantity and type of polymer we use.


The diagram below illustrates the improvement in oil recovery associated with different processes of polymer flooding.