Surface mining of hydrocarbon deposits is not a new technique, but its application has been mainly limited to the excavation of oil sands in the Athabasca Basin of Alberta, Canada, where the mining method has proved to be commercially successful, although in a narrow set of geological and environmental conditions. This paper discusses the scope for a broader application of a surface-mining approach and builds on the results of a conceptual study that examined the possibility of surface mining the viscous crude oil of the Ratqa Lower Fars (RQLF) reservoir in northern Kuwait. The study findings indicate that a large rate of crude oil might be profitably and sustainably produced for many decades through a surface-mining approach.

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