Our crude oil assets illustrate Canadian Natural’s balanced portfolio approach to business, producing light, Pelican heavy, primary heavy and thermal in situ heavy crude oil. Canadian Natural’s crude oil is produced from very distinct assets, using different recovery technologies that are tailored to fit each unique reservoir.
Going forward we will achieve production growth from crude oil through our defined growth strategy incorporating low-risk development projects. We target secondary and tertiary recovery of light crude oil, primary, secondary and tertiary recovery of heavy crude oil and thermal in situ recovery of bitumen. Our crude oil development strategy is based on low-risk exploitation anchored by our expertise in improved recovery techniques. This allows us to maximize crude oil recovery and value from both mature and new crude oil pools.
Canadian Natural’s primary heavy crude oil operations are centered on the Alberta – Saskatchewan border, near the city of Lloydminster. The Company’s extensive and dominant land base allows us to conduct large scale drilling and development programs while minimizing our capital cost requirements. Costs are further managed through owning and operating centralized treating and sand handling facilities, maximizing their utilization and using our size to achieve economies of scale. Our infrastructure includes five crude oil processing facilities and four salt caverns for solids disposal. Ownership of the ECHO sales pipeline allows us to be the only producer capable of delivering undiluted heavy crude oil into our blending facilities at Hardisty, Alberta.
Our infrastructure and size gives us a significant competitive advantage in this area and our large inventory of drilling prospects leads to greater flexibility enabling us to react very quickly to changes in commodity prices or changes in capital allocation. Primary production typically produces between 5% and 15% of the original oil in place, leaving a vast unrecovered resource that we feel will ultimately be exploited. Improving recovery by drilling infill wells in some pools, testing waterfloods in others, and using horizontal wells in specific applications, are a few of the ways we are working towards improving recovery factors. We are also evaluating several other technologies, such as polymer flooding and solvent injection.