2014 RCE President's Award: Suncor
Hydrocarbon Blanket Gas and Recovery System, Using recycled tailings water for in situ make-up water, and Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo
Hydrocarbon Blanket Gas and Recovery System
While Suncor’s engineering team was evaluating the hydrocarbon blanket gas and recovery system to reduce cold venting from cargo tank void space on the Terra Nova floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO), it determined the system also could significantly reduce the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In conventional cargo systems, inert gas is used to maintain a positive pressure in storage tanks. During production, the inert gas and VOCs from the crude are vented into the atmosphere. The new system blankets the FPSO’s cargo tanks with pure hydrocarbon gas, which is recovered to process during production, effectively eliminating the release of VOCs. The system was commissioned in 2013 and is intended to operate for the remaining life of the Terra Nova field so the environmental and economic benefits will be returned many times over. In addition, the commissioning of this system significantly contributes to reducing Suncor’s corporate VOC emission profile.
Using recycled tailings water for in situ make-up water
Beginning in February 2013, Suncor implemented an industry-leading process to send tailings water from its oil sands base plant through an existing pipeline to be used as make-up water at its Firebag in situ operations. Reusing tailings water for the in situ extraction process is new not only to Suncor, but to the entire industry. Through this initiative, Suncor demonstrated that reusing water from the end of one project’s cycle in another part of the business improves Suncor’s water management practices over a larger geographical area and can reduce overall regional fresh water use. Suncor cleared the technical, regulatory and operational hurdles to allow sharing of recycled tailings between its operations and is further expanding the project by collaborating with industry partners to send Suncor’s tailings water to other in situ operators to reduce regional water demand across the industry.
Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo
Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo (SPWB) is a five-year, community-driven collaboration project between stakeholders in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the University of Waterloo and Suncor Energy Foundation to build capacity in the non-profit sector in this region of northeast Alberta. The project emerged from Suncor’s vision to build further quality of life in Wood Buffalo by developing and sustaining innovation and social change. Through a shared vision, SPWB brought together stakeholders from the energy industry, the private sector, the non-profit sector, government and higher education. Together, processes and tools are developed to help the community become more socially prosperous, resilient and sustainable. SPWB reflects Suncor’s community investment strategy and commitment to collaboration for long-term sustainability. The project’s goal is to strengthen the community benefit (non-profit) sector, allowing groups to be more proactive, better equipped to deal with rapid regional growth and able to support vibrant communities.
2014 RCE Chair's Award: Laricina
Heavy Equipment Training Program
Laricina’s heavy equipment training program was designed to enhance the Bigstone Cree Nation (BCN) by providing long-term benefits such as team building, economic development, project management skills, land-use planning, and increased development of skilled labour while building a sustainable community. The community investment partnership included the BCN, Alberta Works Human Services, Laricina, and two industry developers. It delivered a three-month training program for 12 local residents in operations of equipment used in industry operations such as rock trucks, excavators, bulldozers, skidsteers and graders. The program involved training in landscaping, ditching, grading and finishing a newly constructed, 11-home housing subdivision to engineered standards within the BCN reserve. The subdivision was expanded to include an additional 22-home subdivision. Upgrades included two kilometres of public roads and a new emergency access road.
2014 RCE Environmental Performance Award: Devon Energy
In Situ Oil Sands Wildlife Mitigation and Monitoring Program
Devon has oil sands interests in two actively operating projects, one approved project nearing completion and one project in the approval stage. Impacts to wildlife, biodiversity and land are major topics of interest for stakeholders of these projects and Devon is addressing them through its In Situ Oil Sands Wildlife Mitigation and Monitoring Program. The program is a multi-pronged commitment to monitor wildlife populations, conduct environmental research to fill key data gaps and mitigate negative impacts to biodiversity in and around project areas. Endorsed by regulators as the best-in-industry for such initiatives, the program is comprised of these key elements: wildlife mitigation commitments; long-term wildlife mitigation and monitoring program; regional caribou collaboration and research program; bear-smart practices; innovative wildlife inventory techniques for remote areas and hard-to-detect species.
2014 RCE Health and Safety Performance Award: Talisman
Cypress 3D Seismic Program
In 2013, Talisman Energy carried out its Cypress 3D Seismic Program, a large-scale, low-impact geophysical exploration program 100 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John, British Columbia. The goal was to acquire seismic data while ensuring the project caused no harm to people, minimized environmental impact and addressed local stakeholder and First Nations’ concerns.
Given the remote location and the desire to minimize surface impacts, the company would move workers and equipment by helicopter. Aviation safety risks were managed by conducting helicopter operations during spring and summer months. At the same time, the project team recognized the need to put in place measures to avoid disturbing migratory birds during the critical nesting timing window.
To manage these challenges, the project team applied new technologies and improved assurance activities. The project became the first to use the Helicopter Association of Canada’s Final Draft Helicopter Guidelines for Canadian Onshore Seismic Operations. The team also developed practical methods for identifying and avoiding bird nests while carrying out seismic activity.
2014 RCE Social Performance Award: Japan Canada Oil Sands (JACOS)
Hangingstone Expansion Project – Aboriginal Review Group
In collaboration with aboriginal stakeholders, JACOS established an advisory group made up of potentially impacted First Nations, Metis locals and aboriginal trappers. This group, the Aboriginal Review Group (ARG), provided their collective traditional knowledge to JACOS and their consultants while conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the expansion of their steam-assisted gravity drainage oil sands project. JACOS provided an independent third party environmental consulting firm to the ARG to review and critique all work associated with the EIA, the project submission and supplemental information requests. Prior to the commencing clearing for the project, JACOS and the ARG held a “pre-disturbance” ceremony to bless the land. The ARG is currently involved in advising JACOS on various environmental monitoring plans and will be involved with observing construction and operational activities. JACOS committed to continued support of the ARG until final reclamation of the project when the land will be returned to the status of unoccupied Crown land and Aboriginal Peoples have the right once again to pursue traditional activities.