Devon's thermal heavy oil operations, located in the Athabasca oil sands in northeast Alberta, use an extraction process called steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). Heat from a steam injection well liquifies very dense bitumen allowing it to migrate to a production well located beneath. Devon's first commercial SAGD facility was Jackfish, which achieved first production in 2007. Since that time, the company has increased its Jackfish operations to include Jackfish 2 and Jackfish 3. Devon has 100% working interest in all Jackfish properties. In March of 2010, Devon increased its oil sands presence by acquiring a 50 percent interest in BP's Pike leases. Devon will be the operator of the SAGD operations to be constructed on these lands.
Cold-flow heavy oil from multi-zone Cretaceous sandstones is the main focus of Devon's vertical drilling activities in the Lloydminster area. Concentrated in and around Iron River and Manatokan, the company has seen a steady rise in production from this area since the mid-2000s to a peak of over 40,000 Bod in 2009. While a consistent yearly vertical well program is currently maintaining production levels, new technologies such as horizontal wells and enhanced recovery techniques are being piloted to provide stable production in the future.