— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on November 26, Wednesday.
Welcome to the CNBC Business Daily.
Canada is home to the world's third largest oil sands reserves... But how exactly is it extracted? Jackie DeAngelis has more.
Calgary, the capital of Alberta Canada and home to the country's oil sands industry.
But just how is this energy resource extracted?
[SOT/Greg Stringham] Technology was the key that unlocked the oil sands in the very beginning. It was Clarke and his process and his wife's washing machine that put it together to see that it would separate and to see the oil flow to the top and the sand to the bottom and basically that separation technique has stayed the same all the way through.
But the technology didn't get stuck in the wash.
Now a whole host of new innovations mean the black-stuff trapped underground are now available.
Technology such as the steam-assisted gravity drainage system being used by Cenovus at Christina Lake.
[PTC/Jackie D] At this part of the facility the steam is actually being pumped into the ground to heat the oil and bring it to the surface. About 20,000 barrels a day are coming out of this pad alone and what's really significant is the footprint of this pad is just less than 10% of the whole area that it is reaching.
[SOT/Cenovus] You're going to see our footprint continue to probably get smaller, you're going to see the efficiency of how we use this technology get enhanced, we're going to continually evolve to drive down our steam-to-oil ratio.
In its natural state oil sands is too thick to flow like conventional oil so to get it moving, technology is used to upgrade it to a lighter crude through vacuums, heating or blending it with diluents.
WALK & TALK
MAN: You can see where it changes, you can see it coming out ... it's still water, still water,
MAN: There that's oil
JD: So this is it...this is the final product?
MAN: Almost yes
JD: With some methane in it.
MAN: Yeah, we still try and separate more of the gas, but at this point it's pretty light, if you shake it it goes down to pretty much
JD: Oh wow
MAN: Down to nothing
[PTC/Jackie D] In order to understand the power and scope of this technology, consider it this way. When this facility in 2010 began it was pumping 18,000 barrels of oil per day, now that capacity - 138,000 barrels and in the future when this technology becomes more streamlined we could see over 350,000 barrels of oil per day from this site.
It's estimated that there are currently 174 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Alberta's oil sands, but with extracting processes improving all the time, experts believe we could soon see billions more.
Jackie D'Angelis at Christina Lake for CNBC.
I'm Chen Qian, reporting from CNBC's Asian headquarters.