Oil Development

Crude oil production is more complicated than natural gas production, since crude oil has larger molecules and moves through rocks less easily.

Conventional crude oil wells are those that can produce oil using either the pressure of the reservoir itself or with the addition of pumping.

Well production

In primary recovery, natural reservoir pressure or simple mechanical pumps - the pumpjack - are used to raise oil to the surface. Most oil wells drilled in Canada today have to be pumped.

When a well requires it, a pump is lowered down the tubing to the bottom of the well on a string of steel rods, referred to as the rod string. The rod string in hung from the wellheads and connected to a drive unit and motor on the surface. The rod string conveys power to the pump either by rotating or moving up and down, depending on the type of pump employed.

Other types of pumps include the traditional 'iron horse' pumpjack, submersible pumps and progressive cavity pumps.

Conventional oil processing

Before petroleum resources can be transported to refineries, where they are turned into the products we use, they must be processed to separate the usable commodities from the unique crude oil mix. About two-thirds of Canada's conventional petroleum production doesn't require extensive processing before being shipped by pipeline.

Removing impurities and other undesired substances is an essential operation before any type of crude reaches a refinery. The methods used depends on whether the oil is conventional or unconventional.

Conventional crude oil is initially processed at field facilities called batteries. Inside a battery is one or more tanks in which saltwater and sand sink to the bottom and natural gas bubbles off the top. Clean oil collects in the middle. The water is reinjected into the producing formation to help main reservoir pressure and the sand is collected for disposal.

Once processed, the oil is transported by pipelines from the production facility to refineries where it is upgraded into products like gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel. Offshore Newfoundland and Labrador transport crude oil to markets by tanker.