Image: SAGD Water Treatment Project: Secondment For Site Based Contract Engineer

Oil & Gas2 min read

SAGD Water Treatment Project: Secondment For Site Based Contract Engineer

Cold Lake area, AB, Canada
March - October 2017
Oil Sands

Ausenco filled in for a key technical owner's engineering role on short notice.

Our Client needed a Site Engineer on short notice to work at the water reuse/treatment facilities at a large secluded Oil Sands SAGD (Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage) site. Ausenco was able to provide the personnel with the ability to quickly adapt to a new process they had not previously encountered and fly into the site on a weekly basis. Part of the Site Engineer’s responsibilities was to ensure the smooth operation of the water treatment plant. The water treatment facility provided clean water to the boilers which give steam to the SAGD wells to heat up the reservoir and produce oil. Clean water is essential to the safe operation of the boilers, mitigating the safety risk of tube failure.

Provincial regulations limit the volumes of water that can be disposed of by the facilities. By tracking the sources of wastewater sent to disposal wells it allows the Site Engineer to identify opportunities to reduce wastewater which is highly valuable for the Client. One opportunity that was achieved was leading the initiative to treat recycled boiler blowdown water, as it provided additional boiler feedwater for steam generation and reduced disposal volumes. It was previously unused, and caused significant changes in the Warm Lime Softener chemistry and stability. Engineering support helped the operations staff adapt to these new challenging operating conditions.

Other responsibilities of the Site Engineer included:

  • Daily monitoring of water treatment plant performance, focusing on the treated water quality (such as the amount of silica and hardness in the water).
  • Investigate possible root causes of poor equipment performance and taking action to improve.
  • Taking ownership of the safe operation of the facility during upset conditions along with the operations staff.
  • Leading group risk assessment meetings to ensure all adequate safeguards are in place in the facility design and equipment operating procedures to maintain a safe work environment for employees, prevent spills and maintain water treatment plant performance.
  • Identification and scoping of new small projects to improve plant performance, operability, and mitigation of safety and environmental risks. Projects were designed to enhance the uptime of the chemical supply lines into the warm lime softener, important for maintaining water quality in the plant.