Producing oil and gas

Cold Lake

We produce oil and gas resources using world-class technology, best practices, financial strength and a commitment to responsible development.

We apply sophisticated modeling and advanced drilling, facilities and process engineering to efficiently and safely process oil and natural gas from discovered resource properties.  We also continually invest in and develop innovative technologies that increase resource recovery. In this way, we work to produce needed energy supply while reducing costs, protecting people and minimizing our environmental footprint.  Underpinning this work is a commitment to developing Canada’s resources responsibly.

Our key production assets are: 

  • Cold Lake: wholly-owned heavy oil operation at Cold Lake, Alberta
  • Syncrude: 25 percent interest in Syncrude, world's largest oil sands operation
  • Conventional oil and natural gas: production fields across Western, Northern, and Eastern Canada

Cold Lake
We are a major producer of heavy oil through our Cold Lake operation. Here we inject steam underground to heat the bitumen so that it can be pumped to the surface. Cold Lake currently produces about 140,000 barrels of crude oil a day, and is the largest thermal in-situ operation in the world.

Ongoing research and application of technologies to improve recovery have been essential to Cold Lake's success. We have spent nearly $300 million on research and development since the project's commercial start-up in 1985. Since then, resource recovery rates have nearly doubled to about 30 percent, and we produce each barrel using only a fifth of the water required in 1985.

At the same time, we are pursuing new opportunities, such as our regulator-approved Nabiye project. This project would add new facilities and 30,000 barrels a day to production.

Key facts - Cold Lake (2009) 
Average heavy oil production   Approximately 140,000 barrels a day
Contribution to Canada's total oil production four percent
In operation since  1985


  • Oil sands: detailed discussion of our oil sands assets
  • Technology: update on our investments in resource recovery technologies
  • Cold Lake Community Report: Cold Lake operation's  performance across a range of environmental, social and economic indicators

We hold a 25 percent interest in Syncrude, an integrated oil sands mining, extraction and upgrading facility north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. This operation has a total capacity of more than 350,000 barrels of synthetic crude a day. A multi-year plan is underway at Syncrude to improve operating performance. Areas of focus include greater energy efficiency, higher bitumen yield and improved maintenance turnaround performance. 

Key facts - Syncrude (2009) 
Average synthetic oil production  280,000 barrels a day
Contribution to Canada's total oil production  nine percent    
Imperial's share of production70,000 barrels a day
In operation since   1978


Conventional oil and natural gas
We are a leading producer of conventional crude oil and natural gas, and operate numerous oil and gas fields in Alberta and across Western Canada and the Northwest Territories. This is an area of the industry where production is at mature stage as oil and gas reservoirs are increasingly depleted. 

To maintain profitability from this business, we focus on operating efficiencies, cost controls and the use of enhanced recovery technologies.


Key facts - Conventional oil & natural gas (2009)  
Average total production82,000 oil equivalent barrels a day
Production of crude oil and natural gas liquids33,000 oil equivalent  barrels a day
Daily production of natural gas   295 million cubic feet a day


  •  Conventional oil: detailed discussion of our conventional oil and gas properties

Key facts
Our production business at a glance

Key facts – Imperial's production business (2009) 
Average combined oil and gas production293,000 oil equivalent barrels a day
Crude oil and natural gas liquids production     244,000 oil equivalent barrels a day
Gas production    295 million cubic feet a day