Gas Manufacturing

Demonstration Project

The Swan Hills ISCG Demonstration Project (Demo Project) successfully commenced operations in June 2009, as a demonstration of full commercial-scale well pair ISCG synthetic gas manufacturing as a forerunner to replication based commercial ISCG developments in the future.

The Demonstration Project is located 17 km southwest of Swan Hills. The first phase of the Demonstration Project was completed in June and July 2009 and resulted in a range of measurable results that will assist in future development stages of the commercial project.


The leading edge project resulted in notable accomplishments, including:

Technical achievements

  • First of its kind project in North America.
  • Deepest underground coal gasification ever conducted in the world. At 1400 meters below the surface (or 4600 ft.), this depth showcases the opportunity to utilize Alberta’s deep vast coal reserves for future energy production.
  • Clean burning excellent quality synthetic gas successfully produced from its deep coal resource. Reveals that clean synthetic gas can be successfully manufactured at depths never before achieved in Alberta or elsewhere.
  • Successful demonstration of key ISCG process control fundamentals. including elevating the coal to very high temperatures to create gasification.
  • Injection of saline water in the gasification process – The success demonstrated a viable alternative from utilizing fresh water and in doing so showcased the significant environmental advantage over processes requiring the use of fresh water for energy generation.
  • Ability to control shutdown and restart capabilities of the gasification process.

Demo Project results to date:

  • Confirmation that the Swan Hills Synfuels deep coal resource gasification process behaves in accordance with the substantial body of worldwide experience with ISCG.
  • The Demo Project results reinforce that Swan Hills Synfuels’ coal resource has excellent geology and coal properties for ISCG.
  • The results demonstrated to date put Swan Hills Synfuels in a strong position to move expeditiously toward further commercial development of ISCG at Swan Hills
  • The Demo Project successfully utilized research funds. Of the CDN$30 million project cost, CDN$8.83 million was provided by the Province of Alberta through the Alberta Energy Research Institute (now Alberta Innovates).

Next steps

  • Gather operational data for the design of future large-scale ISCG commercial synthetic gas manufacturing facilities, which will be based on replication of the Demo Project well pair.
  • Interpretation of actual construction and operating costs of the Demo Project to accurately forecast requirements for Swan Hills Synfuels’ commercial scale operation.


The results experienced during the Demo Project have provided valuable learnings about the clean energy potential of Alberta’s vast coal reserves.