ConocoPhillips Inc. and Total SA have approved a multibillion-dollar expansion to their joint oil sands operation, which will jack up bitumen production at their Surmont project by a factor of four.


ConocoPhillips also said it will spend US$300-million on heavy-oil research and development over the next five years, with more than 80% of those funds directed toward its oil sands projects at Surmont, Foster Creek and Christina Lake. The company has other heavy-oil assets in Alaska and China.

"We believe technology is going to make a big difference to the economic and environmental characteristics of oil sands development," said Matt Fox, president of ConocoPhillips' Canadian operations, after the Surmont partners announced their expansion yesterday.

"We're looking at a large number of technology projects

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