Oil Sands Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A Top
abandonment Converting a drilled well to a condition that can be left indefinitely without further attention. 
acre Imperial unit of area measurement, 43,560 ft2. There are 640 acres in a section. Imperial measures are no longer used in Alberta legislation and area is now measured in hectares.
actual financial transaction A transaction that has actually been incurred, is supported by documentation, and has specific, practical application for an oil sands royalty project.
advance ruling The Department’s statement on how it will interpret the applicable laws, policies and guidelines with respect to proposed business arrangements or specific allowed costs that relate to oil sands royalty projects.
agreement holder The holder of an oil sands permit or lease.
allowed cost Costs or other amounts under the Oil Sands Allowed Costs (Ministerial) Regulation that may be eligible for deduction from project revenues in the calculation of oil sands royalty.
API gravity The gravity of crude bitumen as measured by a hydrometer and expressed in degrees on the American Petroleum Institute scale. API gravity = (141.5/specific gravity) - 131.5. The lower the API gravity, the heavier and more viscous the bitumen. Athabasca bitumen has an API gravity number of less than 10°.
aromatics Benzene, toluene and xylene. These chemicals are used to increase the octane of gasoline.
asphaltenes Large hydrocarbon molecules found in low percentages within light crude oil but larger percentages within heavier crude oils and even higher proportions in bitumen. Asphaltenes have a very high viscosity and low hydrogen to carbon ratio. Asphaltenes are soluble in aromatic solvents but not soluble in straight-chain solvents like pentane or heptane.Large molecules found in crude oil residue that have a very high viscosity and low hydrogen to carbon ratios.
assay A test performed on a sample of ores, minerals or oil to determine the substance’s physical and chemical properties. For crude oil and bitumen, the assays typically identify the viscosity, density, acidity and amount of sulphur.
B Top
barrel A measure of volume equivalent to 0.159 m3 or 159 litres. Many of the examples used in these guidelines use 1590 m3, the equivalent of 10,000 barrels.
basic service Any service provided by an affiliate, using a capital asset that is not part of the project, to recover or obtain oil sands products or clean crude bitumen obtained from oil sands products, produced pursuant to the project.
battery A system of tanks or surface equipment that receives natural gas or bitumen from one or more wells prior to delivery to market or other disposition. A battery may include equipment for separating and measuring oil, gas and water.
bitumen A thick, sticky form of crude oil that is so heavy and viscous that it will not flow unless it is heated or diluted with lighter hydrocarbons. At room temperature, bitumen looks much like cold molasses. It typically contains more sulphur, metals and heavy hydrocarbons than conventional crude oil.
bitumen cracking The process of breaking the large, complex bitumen hydrocarbon molecules into smaller, lighter molecules that are often more easily refined into more useful feedstocks or products.
blended bitumen Cleaned crude bitumen that has been blended with diluent so that it can be transported by pipeline.
blended heavy oil Heavy crude oil to which lighter oil has been added to make the product transportable by pipeline. 
bonus The amount paid for Crown mineral rights. The Crown receives a bonus regardless of whether the rights are sold directly or through a public offering.
bottoms The higher boiling residue of crude oil that is removed from the bottom of a fractionating column.
brackish water Water that has total dissolved solids exceeding 4000 milligrams per litre (as defined in Part 1(1)(z) of the Alberta Water (Ministerial) Regulation, May 6, 1999), also referred to as saline groundwater. Source:   AER (formerly ERCB) Requirements for Water measurement, reporting, and use for thermal in-situ Oil Sands schemes.
bucketwheel reclaimer A colossal mining machine, the size of a football field, that uses toothed buckets on a revolving wheel to scoop up oil sand from the ground and deposit it on a conveyor belt system that moves it to an extraction plant. Oil sands mine operators replaced the bucketwheel and conveyor system with the shovel and truck method in the mid to late 1990’s.
C Top
carbon capture and storage (CCS) The removal of CO2 from effluent streams in industrial processes and the subsequent injection of the CO2 into underground chambers.
carbon dioxide (CO2) A naturally occurring gas resulting from respiration and combustion. It is the most common greenhouse gas produced by human activities.
catalyst Assists a chemical reaction by lowering temperature or pressure requirements.
cleaned crude bitumen Crude bitumen that has had impurities removed to the extent that it is possible to blend it with diluent and transport it by pipeline.
CO boiler Combusts carbon monoxide and off-gas to recover energy and reduce emissions.
cogeneration Concurrent production of usable forms of energy from a single fuel source using electricity and thermal and/or mechanical energy.
coke High-carbon material that is a byproduct of coking.
coking The process of applying high temperature and pressure to crude oil to produce coke and light liquid hydrocarbons.
combustion overhead gravity drainage (COGD) An experimental production method that uses an array of vertical air injection wells above a horizontal production well.  Bitumen is partially combusted underground, with air fed from the array of vertical injection wells.  Gravity then causes the hot bitumen to flow down to the horizontal well, where it is pumped to the surface.
composite tailings Fine tailings combined with gypsum and sand. Composite tailings settle more rapidly than standard tailings, resulting in faster reclamation times.
concept audit An advance review conducted by the Department to verify that a proposed or current research project or activity is directly attributable to an oil sands royalty project.
condensate A mixture of hydrocarbons that is present as a gas in an underground reservoir but that condenses into a liquid upon recovery.
continuation Refers to the system in place for allowing lessees to retain the productive rights in their agreements past the initial term's expiry date.
continued lease An oil sands lease that is granted for an indefinite term once the holder of a primary lease (or equivalent) has met the required minimum level of evaluation. Continued leases are classified as producing or non-producing. Non-producing continued leases are subject to escalating rent.
conventional crude oil Petroleum in liquid form that can be pumped without processing or dilution.
Crown The Government of Alberta (that is, the Crown in Right of Alberta).
Crown rights Surface rights or mineral rights that are owned by the government of Alberta.
crude bitumen Defined in the Mines and Minerals Act as "a naturally occurring viscous mixture, mainly of hydrocarbons heavier than pentane, that may contain sulphur compounds and that, in its naturally occurring viscous state, will not flow to a well."
crude oil A combustible hydrocarbon usually processed into a variety of petrochemicals including gasoline, diesel, propane and many more.
cumulative cost With regard to an oil sands royalty project, the sum of (1) the project’s prior net cumulative balance, (2) the project’s allowed costs and (3) royalty paid to the Crown during the project’s pre-payout period.
cumulative cost balance See net cumulative balance.
cumulative revenue With regard to an oil sands royalty project, the sum of project revenue and other net proceeds received or receivable from the project’s effective date onwards.
cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) An in situ method of bitumen recovery that uses steam injection to reduce the viscosity of bitumen deposits, making it possible to pump bitumen to the surface. The process occurs in cycles, with steam injection followed by a resting period, followed by a production phase, then another steam injection and so on.
D Top
deeper rights reversion The requirement that unproven zones are returned to the Crown at the expiry of an agreement.
Deeper Rights Reversion Zone Designation (DRRZD) Identifies a zone by its name. DRRZDs are used primarily for deeper rights reversion, but can also be used for other purposes, such as offsets. See also zone designation.
designated representative In relation to an Oil Sands Agreement, means (i) the person who is designated as the representative of the lessee(s) of the agreement, according to the notice of the designation given to the Minister, or (ii) the lessee of the agreement, if the agreement is held by only one lessee who has not given the Minister a notice of a designation of a representative or has given the Minister a notice of the revocation of a previous designation of a representative.
development area The lands and subsurface strata included as part of an oil sands royalty project.
dilbit Bitumen diluted with a diluent.
diluent A hydrocarbon substance used to dilute crude bitumen so that it can be transported by pipeline.
direct purchase The purchase of Crown-owned oil sands rights by private sale rather than through the public offering process.
directly attributable costs Costs that are solely, completely, entirely or wholly attributable to the Project, not just indirectly related to it.
disposition A grant, a transfer, or an agreement. Where any reference is made in the OSRR, 2009, to the disposing or disposition of any thing, the reference shall be construed as referring to a sale or any other disposition of the thing to a person who by reason of the sale or disposition becomes its owner.
distillation Separating the various components of crude oil or bitumen by adding heat. 
E Top
effective date With regard to an oil sands royalty project, the date from which royalty begins to be calculated under the terms of the Oil Sands Royalty Regulation, 2009 or OSRR, 1997.
end of period statement A type of royalty report required by the Department. An annual end of period statement is required for both pre-payout and post-payout oil sands royalty projects. This provides a detailed summary of the financial- and production-related operations of the project.
escalating rent A payment due from developers who wish to retain their oil sands rights to non-producing continued leases. Rent for such leases is charged on an escalating basis according to a schedule published in the Oil Sands Tenure Regulation.
established reserves Hydrocarbon reserves considered to be recoverable using currently available technology and at present economic conditions.
evaluation The process of gathering descriptive technical data—including geological, geophysical, engineering and production information—about the oil sands zone or zones included in oil sands agreements. Evaluation data provides valuable information about the nature and characteristics of the oil sands resource.
extraction The process of separating sand from bitumen.
F Top
facility Includes, but is not limited to, a bitumen battery, battery compressor station, gathering system, gas processing plant, reprocessing plant, gas injection facility, commercial storage facility, field dehydrator or separator, water disposal or injection plant, oil cleaning plant, waste processing and disposal facility, loading facility, truck or pipeline terminal.
fair market value The Department’s determination of the value of a good or service based on the value of comparable goods or services available on the open market.
fine tailings Water with very small particles of suspended clay produced by the mining extraction process.
fluid coking A fluid coking process is provided when the recycling of coke particles of less than 44 microns in diameter to the coking reactor is minimized by passing the stream of coke taken from the coking reactor to a vessel containing a fluidized bed of solids. The coke withdrawn from the coker is passed into one zone where the seed generation is performed (where the cokes particles combine to create larger, heavier particles). Coke recycled to the coker is withdrawn from the second zone where separating occurs between the light and heavy coke particles. This process is suitable for once through fluid coking to minimize small fines in the coker liquid product.
fractional Crown rights Crown rights held when the Crown holds less than 50% of the rights to the smallest applicable spacing unit, as established by the AER (formerly ERCB).
freehold rights Mineral rights that are not owned by the federal or provincial governments or by the Crown in Right of Alberta.
freehold well A well that is drilled on freehold rights.
function (direct or primary) A complete operating function of a project, i.e. mining of oil sands, recovery of crude bitumen from a well, processing of oil sands to recover crude bitumen, upgrading of crude bitumen.
G Top
good faith estimate (GFE) A type of royalty report required by the Department. A monthly good faith estimate is required for post-payout oil sands royalty projects. The estimate provides a detailed summary of the financial- and production-related operations of the project. It includes actual (or best estimates of) figures for previous months and forecasted figures for future months.
greenhouse gases (GHG) Mainly, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), all of which contribute to the warming of the Earth's atmosphere.
gross revenue For an oil sands royalty project, the project revenue minus the cost of diluent contained in any blended bitumen included in the calculation of the project’s revenue.
H Top
handling charges For an oil sands royalty project, all charges incurred in moving an oil sands product from the royalty calculation point to the disposition point.
heavy crude oil Crude oil that is very dense, highly viscous, and has a high boiling point, with an API gravity of less than 25 degrees.
hectare A metric unit of area measurement approximately equal to 2.5 acres. There are 256 hectares in a section.
hedges Transactions that use actual commodities, futures, contracts, swap arrangements and other financial instruments to counterbalance price fluctuations and reduce the risk of an investment.
hydrocarbon Liquid, solid or gaseous organic compounds that contain only carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbons are the basis of almost all petroleum products.
hydrogen sulphide A flammable, colourless gas, commonly known as sour gas or H2S, that has an odour of rotten eggs. It is corrosive and poisonous and, if allowed to escape into the atmosphere, is potentially lethal to humans and animals. Great care must be taken when drilling into a reservoir known to contain hydrogen sulphide.
hydrotransport Mixing mined oil sand with hot water and caustic for transport by pipeline from mine site to the extraction facility.
I Top
in-fill drilling Drilling of crude bitumen wells on undrilled drilling spacing units (DSU), as defined by the AER (formerly ERCB).
Information Letter Publications issued periodically by the Department of Energy to advise industry clients of changes in policy and pricing, to communicate proposed changes to legislation and business rules, and to solicit feedback to proposals.
Information Bulletin Publications used to notify industry regarding items such as proposed changes to legislation, regulations or operating procedures with the intent of soliciting feedback; new or changes to existing programs, projects, services, strategies or organizational structure; industry participation in department initiatives.
injection well A well drilled for the purpose of injecting solvents, air or steam underground to facilitate recovery of crude oil or bitumen.
“inside” a project Lands, leases, operations, facilities and infrastructure specified in an approved project description are said to be “part of the project” or “inside the project.” See “outside” a project.
in-situ Latin for "in place." In oil sands recovery, all non-mining methods employed to collect bitumen deposits are in-situ.
L Top
land sale See public offering.
lease An oil sands agreement that grants rights to develop and use oil sands resources. Two types of leases exist under the Oil Sands Tenure Regulation: primary and continued.
lease continuation The process of continuing the term of a lease to a company or individual who holds a primary lease (or equivalent).
lease selection The process of converting an oil sands permit to a primary lease.
lessee The holder of a lease according to the records of the Department.
light crude oil Low density, low viscosity crude oil.
Lloyd Blend A blend of condensate and heavy oil from the Lloydminster, Alberta area.
location The surface area of an agreement and the zones and rights contained within that particular agreement.
long-term bond rate (LTBR) Published weekly by the Bank of Canada and used to establish the return allowance that is applied to the net cumulative balance or net loss of an oil sands royalty project.
M Top
mature fine tailings Fine tailings that have separated into a sediment layer of clay and silt and an upper layer of clarified water.
mineral rights The rights to explore for, produce and sell the minerals contained in a parcel of land. This entitlement may accrue through freehold ownership or through a Crown leasing arrangement.
minimum level of evaluation (MLE) See evaluation. Applications for lease selection or lease continuation must be supported by technical data that meets a minimum level of evaluation (MLE), as outlined in section 3 of the Oil Sands Tenure Regulation.
minimum level of production (MLP) A department-defined benchmark which establishes the minimum level of production that must be met for an oil sands lease to be classified as producing. The required minimum level of production per term year is 2,400 m3 of bitumen per section, on average, over the lease term.
month As defined in the Oil Sands Royalty Regulation, 2009, the period commencing at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of a month and ending before 8:00 a.m. on the first day of the next month.
monthly royalty calculation (MRC) A type of royalty report required by the Department. A monthly royalty calculation is required for pre-payout oil sands royalty projects. It reports production, sales and royalty information for each oil sands product for the month.
muskeg An acidic soil type common in boreal areas, consisting of dead plant material, peat, moss and water.
N Top
naphtha The portion of a crude barrel with a boiling point between 145°F and 400°F. Naphtha can be used as diluent.
natural gas A gaseous hydrocarbon consisting mainly of methane, found in conjunction with petroleum and coal.
natural gas liquids Ethane, propane, butane and pentanes plus.
net book value For a capital asset, the original cost less accumulated depreciation.
net cumulative balance The amount by which the cumulative costs exceed cumulative revenue. The net cumulative balance is sometimes referred to as the cumulative cost balance or the unrecovered balance.
net loss For an oil sands royalty project, the amount by which the allowed costs for a period exceed the sum of revenues and other net proceeds for the period.
net revenue For an oil sands royalty project, the amount by which project revenue exceeds net project costs in a given reporting period. Net project costs are allowed costs less other net proceeds.
non-basic pipeline Pipelines for transporting bitumen (or blended bitumen) to market (from a royalty calculation point to the point of disposition).
non-producing A bitumen lease classification that indicates a lease has not met the required minimum level of production. Non-producing continued leases are subject to escalating rent.
O Top
oil sands Sand, clay or other minerals saturated with bitumen. Defined in the Mines and Minerals Act as “(i) sands and other rock materials containing crude bitumen, (ii) the crude bitumen contained in those sands and other rock materials, and (iii) any other mineral substance (except natural gas) associated with the above-mentioned crude bitumen, sands or rock materials and includes a hydrocarbon substance declared to be oil sands under section 7(2) of the Oil Sands Conservation Act.”
oil sands agreement A permit or lease.
oil sands product Any product (directly or indirectly) recovered from oil sands or obtained by processing oil sands, but does not include solution gas.
oil sands royalty (OSR) project An oil sands project for which royalty calculation and reporting is governed by the Oil Sands Royalty Regulation, 2009, and not a larger integrated project of which the royalty project may form a part.
oil sands well A well that is drilled to penetrate an oil sands deposit for the purpose of evaluating the deposit or bringing it into production.
once-through steam generator A vaporization of water unit in which water is pushed through tubes that are in contact with a heat source such as natural gas fired burners. This system does not incorporate any feedback loops such as an economizer that Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSG’s) use for generating steam.
opening balance See prior net cumulative balance.
operator The person or corporation responsible for the management and operation of an oil sands royalty project. Project operators have the legal authority to represent the project and its owners.
other net proceeds Revenue (proceeds) earned as a result of selling, leasing or licensing project-related assets, technology or substances other than oil sands products.
“outside” a project Lands, leases, operations, facilities and infrastructure that are not specified in an approved project description are considered to be “outside the project.” See “inside” a project.
overburden The layer of soil, rocks and organic material on top of a deposit of oil sand.
P Top
pad The location on the surface of a well head or multiple well heads.
par price The price at Edmonton for 40° API light sweet crude oil.
participating interest The proportion of ownership in the whole of a project that is held by any one project owner.
payout The point when the developer has recovered invested costs (capital and operating) plus the return allowance prescribed by the Oil Sands Royalty division.
payout date For a pre-payout project, the first date at which the cumulative revenue of a project first equals the cumulative cost of the project.
pay thickness The average thickness of an oil or oil sand zone. Differs depending on the type of oil and method of recovery.
pentanes plus A mixture of pentanes and some butanes. A key source of diluent for bitumen.
period Each calendar year that occurs between a project’s effective date and the date when project approval is revoked.
permit An oil sands agreement, which is granted for a five-year term.
permitee The holder of a permit according to the records of the Department.
person As defined in the Oil Sands Royalty Regulation, 2009, the term “person” includes firms, trusts, partnerships, joint ventures, associations, governments or government agencies.
petroleum Naturally occurring liquid hydrocarbons.
porosity The percentage by volume of void space in a given rock or sand matrix, potentially containing oil or water.
post-payout period Each period commencing on or after the payout date of an oil sands royalty project.
pre-payout period Each period commencing before the payout date of an oil sands royalty project.
primary lease An oil sands lease that is granted for a 15-year term.
primary separation vessel The first tank in a mining operation that begins the separation of the liquids (water and bitumen) and the solids (clay and sand). It is usually a large diameter cylindrical tank with a conical bottom. The top portion of the vessel is where the bitumen rich stream (bitumen froth) leaves for further processing. At the bottom of the vessel a large portion of the solids and some water exit and make up the main tailings stream.
primary wells Wells producing bitumen without any additional recovery technologies.
prior net cumulative balance For an oil sands royalty project, the opening balance of costs less revenues incurred prior to the project’s effective date.
processing plant A facility for the extraction, cleaning or upgrading of crude bitumen.
producing A lease classification indicating that a continued lease has met the required minimum level of production and is therefore not subject to escalating rent.
production month The month in which an oil sands product was recovered or obtained.
project description The section of an oil sands royalty project approval order that specifies the lands, leases, operations, facilities and infrastructure that are considered to be “part of the project” or “in the project.” The approved project description for a new oil sands royalty project is called the initial project description. When a project is amended, the approved description is referred to as the amended project description.
project operator  See operator.
project owner The lessee of oil sands rights and the person who, according to Land Titles Office records, has the right to recover oil sands from the development area of an oil sands royalty project.
project payout date The date upon which the cumulative cost of the project equals the cumulative revenue.
project revenue The sum of the volume of each oil sands product times the unit price.
project substances Oil sands and oil sands products recovered from the development area of an oil sands royalty project.
public offering A public auction during which oil sands rights are awarded to the highest bidder. Public offerings are also called sales or land sales.
Q Top
qualifying joint venture project An oil sands royalty project that meets all the ownership and operational requirements specified in the Oil Sands Royalty Regulation, 1997. The cost rules for qualifying joint ventures are slightly different from those for other OSR projects. Does not apply to OSRR'09.
quality differential The difference, measured in dollars per m3, between the price of an oil sands product and the price of an appropriate benchmark crude oil such as Edmonton Light Par or Hardisty Heavy.
R Top
realized revenue The sum revenues from all crude bitumen–based oil sands products less handling charges. The realized revenue plus revenue from other oil sands products determines the project revenue.
recovery factor The volumetric percentage of oil or bitumen that can be recovered.
return allowance A return on investment to cover risk. For oil sands royalty projects, the allowance is calculated using Canada’s long-term bond rate.
ring fence Refers to the definition of an oil sands project and the eligible expenditures deemed necessary for operation.
royalty A share of production or equivalent revenue that is paid to the owner of a mineral resource in exchange for the use of that resource. Owners of mineral rights may lease these rights to oil and gas companies in exchange for a royalty.
royalty calculation point For an oil sands royalty project, the point at which the Crown’s royalty share of the project’s sales is measured.
royalty-in-kind The process of the Crown receiving resources, such as bitumen, in lieu of cash royalties.
S Top
sales price The calculated value of the sales revenue divided by the sales volume.
sales revenue The total proceeds from the sale of an oil sands product.
sales volume The actual volume of the oil sands product sold.
saline groundwater

Water that has total dissolved solids exceeding 4000 milligrams per litre (as defined in Part 1(1)(z) of the Alberta Water (Ministerial) Regulation, May 6, 1999), also referred to as brackish water. Source:   AER (formerly ERCB) Requirements for Water measurement, reporting, and use for thermal in-situ Oil Sands schemes.

secondary recovery Additional recovery of crude oil achieved by adding pressure to a reservoir in the form of water or gas.
section An area of land comprised of approximately 256 hectares. In the Imperial system it is one square mile or 640 acres. The size of a section may deviate from the standard, but for most purposes it is deemed to contain 256 hectares.
sour gas Natural gas with a high concentration of hydrogen sulphide and other sulphur compounds.
sour oil Crude oil with a relatively high concentration of sulphur, hydrogen sulphide and other sulphur compounds.
spacing unit Specify the spacing of wells drilled into individual reservoirs for the purpose of producing oil, gas, or oil sands products. This regulates production rates and ensures efficient drainage of the resource. The standard spacing unit for oil and oil sands is one well per quarter section.
spud Commencement of the drilling of a well.
steam assisted gas push (SAGP) A variance on the SAGD process in which a non-condensable gas is added to the injected steam. The gas rises to the top of the bitumen reservoir and acts as a buffer or insulator between the bitumen deposit and the overburden, which reduces the amount of heat loss from the reservoir and therefore reduces the amount of steam required to produce the same amount of oil as compared to normal SAGD.
steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) An in situ method of bitumen recovery using horizontal wells and steam stimulation.
synbit A blend of cleaned crude bitumen mixed with SCO for diluent in order to meet pipeline viscosity and density specifications.
synthetic crude oil Similar to crude oil, created by upgrading bitumen from oil sands.
T Top
tailings Materials remaining suspended in water after bitumen is separated from oil sand.
tailings oil recovery unit Recovers residual oil from tailings following the extraction process.
Total Acid Number (TAN) The number expressed in milligrams (mg) of potassium hydroxide needed to neutralize the acid in one gram of oil. The test is used to indicate the amount of oxidation that the fluid has undergone. The TAN increases as the fluid undergoes increased amounts of oxidation.
tenure Describes the system through which Crown-owned mineral rights, including oil sands rights, are leased and administered.
term year The term year for an oil sands agreement is defined by the anniversary date of the agreement. For example, in the case of a lease signed on October 18, 2002, the anniversary date is October 18 of each subsequent year, and each term year spans from October 18 to October 18 of the following year.
toe-to-heel air injection (THAI) A method of in-situ bitumen recovery in which air is continuously injected into a bitumen deposit to propagate a wave of combustion, which is intended to push recoverable and partially upgraded oil towards a production well or production portion of a well. The name is derived from the initial design of the process; air is injected at the end or “toe” of a horizontal well and the wave travels along the horizontal well length to the “heel.”
township A term used in the “Alberta Township System.” Depending on the context in which it is used, it refers either to a six square mile area (36 sections), or to a row of townships spanning from east to west across Alberta. Township 1 lies at the southernmost boundary of Alberta, and Township 126 lies at the northernmost boundary.
U Top
undisposed Refers to Crown-owned mineral rights that have not been assigned. Undisposed rights can be acquired through oil sands agreements.
unit operator The party designated by a unit agreement as the operator of the unit.
unit price For an oil sands royalty project, the net value of sold substances measured at the royalty calculation point.
unrecovered balance See net cumulative balance.
upgrader A facility used to upgrade bitumen to crude oil.
upgrading The process by which heavy oil and bitumen are converted into lighter crude by increasing the ratio of hydrogen to carbon, normally using either coking or hydroprocessing.
V Top
vacuum distillation unit A distillation column that operates in a vacuum (where operating pressure is less than atmospheric pressure). Distillation separates substances based on their different boiling points. The vacuum allows for better separation of heavier hydrocarbon feedstock into its base hydrocarbon components. The lighter, more valuable hydrocarbons are removed from the top of the column, whereas the less valuable, very heavy hydrocarbons, such as asphaltene, are removed from the bottom of the column.
value-added The upgrading or refining of resources into products of a higher value (e.g. synthetic crude, petrochemicals, plastics).
VAPEX A gravity drainage process in which solvent vapours are dissolved into bitumen to reduce its viscosity and allow it to be pumped to the surface via a traditional well.
W Top
West Texas Intermediate The light, sweet crude oil from the United States against which all light and medium crude oils in North America are priced.
Z Top
zone designation A description of the stratigraphic interval for a particular set of mineral rights.