The production from the Sunrise Energy Project is transported to Toledo refinery. (Credit: BP p.l.c.)
Sunrise Energy Project is located in the Canadian province of Alberta (Credit: Howl Arts Collective / Flickr)
In 2020, bitumen production from the field averaged around 44,800 barrels per day. (Credit: Lou Gold/ Flickr)

Sunrise Energy Project is an oil sands deposit located in the Canadian province of Alberta.

As of 31 December 2013, the project is expected to host 3.7 billion barrels of bitumen. This includes 0.44 billion of proved, 2.40 billion of probable, and 0.86 billion of possible reserves.

The onshore oil sands project is jointly owned by Cenovus Energy and bp under a 50-50 partnership. It is operated by Cenovus.

In June 2022, Cenovus Energy signed an agreement to acquire bp’s 50% stake in the Sunrise oil sands project. The transaction has an effective date of 1 May 2022 and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022.

Sunrise produced first steam in 2014, while first oil production was achieved in 2015.

The multi-phase project will have a total combined production capacity of 200,000 barrels of bitumen per day (bbls/day). The Phase I, which involved an investment of $2.5bn, will have a capacity of 60,000 bbls/day.

In 2020, bitumen production from the field averaged around 44,800 barrels per day.

The production from the field is transported to Toledo refinery through existing pipelines to convert it into transportation fuels and other energy products.

In August 2022, Cenovus Energy reached another agreement to acquire outstanding 50% interest in Toledo Refinery from bp.

Location and Investment

Sunrise Energy Project is located nearly 60km northeast of Fort McMurray in Alberta between Imperial Kearl Project to the north and Suncor Firebag to the east. It is expected to become a stable source of crude oil production for North America for 40 years.

The project will create around 1,800 direct construction jobs. During operations, it will support an additional 295 jobs.

Over the life of the project, Sunrise is expected to generate nearly C$40bn in royalties. The oil sands project will also provide C$6bn in corporate income tax to Alberta and C$8bn in corporate income taxes to the federal government.

Project details

The project includes three development areas namely Development Area 1 (DA1), Development Area 2 (DA2), and Development Area 3 (DA3).

DA1 includes nine well pads and 55 pairs of wells, while DA2 consists of six well pads and 37 pairs of wells. The DA3 comprises 18 well pads and 222 pairs of wells.

As of October 2016, 55 well pairs in DA1 were in production and 14 well pairs in DA2 were drilled.

The first phase components included Central Processing Facilities with two 30,000 bpd plants, Warm lime softening and OTSG technology, 49 SAGD well pairs on eight well pads, and five water supply wells (process) and four disposal water wells.

The infrastructure also included midstream pipelines to/from Edmonton, natural gas supply from TransCanada and power supply by ATCO.

The central plant facility includes emulsion treatment, water treatment facility, steam generation facility and utilities.

The operating field facilities include stream and production pipelines, injection and production wells, group separator, test separator package, produced gas condenser and separator, and emulsion and condensate pumps.

Oil treating includes emulsion coolers, one free water knock out, two treaters, sales oil coolers, and produced water coolers.

The de-oiling procedure will involve two skim tanks, one oil recovery tank, one IGF, two oil removal filters, and one desand tank.

Recovery process

Cenovus utilises a drilling method called Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology to produce bitumen from the Sunrise Energy Project.

SAGD is primarily used for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen using an advanced form of steam stimulation. The technology is used to improve recovery from oil sands.

In SAGD, pairs of horizontal wells are used which function as a producer and an injector respectively.

The injector well, located around 5m above the producer, injects steam into the reservoir to heat the bitumen. This enables the bitumen to flow to the lower horizontal well and it is then pumped up to the surface.

After recovery, bitumen is separated from water and transported to the refinery.

Contractors involved

Kiewit supported the front-end engineering design (FEED) of 120,000bpd SAGD plant for the project.

During the construction phase, Kiewit affiliate, Ganotec, fabricated and assembled ten piperack modules and two electrical modules in the Edmonton yard.

Sonic Enclosures designed, supplied and tested test 4 E-rooms and three laboratories for Sunrise project.

TechnipFMC’s wholly-owned subsidiary KTI Corporation won the contract for the design and supply of ten Once Through Steam Generation (OTSG) units for Phase I of the project.

In 2010, Saipem won an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract worth about C$1bn for the Canadian oil sands project. The scope of work included the delivery of two plants.

WorleyParsons was contracted for field facilities.