Enhancing water quality supports increased production

Corporate Responsibility

Enhancing water quality supports increased production

Innovation is enabling Canadian Natural to deliver continuous improvement across our operations and a good example is the development of a new approach to enhance steam generation efficiency and water quality at our Primrose and Wolf Lake (PAW) thermal in situ oil sands facilities.

Water quality is a focus in our thermal operations to maintain high recycle rates. A shift in steaming strategies at our PAW thermal operations prompted significant enhancements to water handling. When Canadian Natural moved from cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) to a steamflood (SF) strategy across some Primrose areas, we needed to expand our water treatment capabilities at our Wolf Lake water processing plant. CSS was the initial recovery process, and SF is the follow-up process to continue production.

The conversion from CSS into SF involved a lot of hard work and innovation. SF involves a constant steaming strategy, similar to steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), which results in more water produced from the reservoir than with CSS. The produced water is treated for re-use as boiler feed for steam generation. To develop a comprehensive plan for increasing water treatment capacity at our existing plant, Canadian Natural drew on the skills and expertise from our teams and, as a result, our water treatment plant set a new record for produced water volume in 2016.

Construction will continue into 2017 and once finished, we expect to add 15,000 m3/d of produced water capacity, as well as an additional 18,800 bbl/d of oil processing capacity.

A module is put in place as part of the construction to increase the produced water capacity at PAW thermal in situ oil sands operations.