CALGARY, Alberta Dec 17 (Reuters) - Imperial Oil Ltd , Canada's No. 2 integrated oil company, on Wednesday filed for regulatory approvals for its C$7 billion ($6.60 billion) Aspen thermal oil sands project, a company spokesman said.
The company is planning to build the Aspen project, located 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Fort McMurray, in three stages, with each stage producing 35,000 barrels per day, spokesman Pius Rolheiser said.
Initial production from the first phase is expected in 2020, Rolheiser said, and will add to the company's other oil sands interests including the Kearl oil sands mine, the Cold Lake project and its stake in the Syncrude Canada Ltd project.
The Aspen project will use the steam-assisted gravity drainage method to produce bitumen from the oil sands, where one well pumps steam into the ground to liquefy the tar-like crude so it can be pumped to the surface through a second well.
Imperial is 69.6 percent owned by Exxon Mobil Corp.