The Application of Subsurface Hydraulic Mining in Tar Sands

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Tar sands offer an excellent source of hydrocarbons. Their production can extend the supply of domestic fossil fuels into the next century. However, development of this resource has been stalled by technical, environmental, and economic problems. For these reasons, the conventional in-situ and surface mining extraction methods are undesirable in recovering the bitumen from many deposits. This report examines the alternative approach of hydraulically mining the tar sands.A well is drilled and casing is set at the top of the deposit. A hydraulic mining tool is lowered into the hole, and upon reaching the interval, high pressure water is pumped down the device and through nozzles that are directed at the formation. The tool is rotated so that the water jet excavates the tar sand and the resulting slurry is pumped to the surface.This technique has excellent application in marginal oil fields that cannot economically support either surface mining or in situ recovery methods. In addition, it can be used to mine deposits that are not at the optimal depth for either the mining or the in situ methods. The excellent potential of this technique encourages further investigation.


Type of resource text
Date created June 1981


Author Walter, John William
Primary advisor Marsden Jr, Sullivan S.
Degree granting institution Stanford University, Department of Petroleum Engineering


Subject School of Earth Energy & Environmental Sciences
Genre Thesis

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Walter, John William. (1981). The Application of Subsurface Hydraulic Mining in Tar Sands. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Master's Theses, Doerr School of Sustainability

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