Suncor Energy and five industry partners have announced a $165 million funding commitment to sanction the construction of a dedicated Water Technology Development Centre (WTDC) to test water treatment and further develop recycling technologies.
Partner companies include Canadian Natural Resources, Devon Canada, Nexen Energy ULC, Shell Canada Energy and Husky Oil Operations.
The goal of the WTDC, which will be located at Suncor’s Firebag facility (pictured), is to shorten the timeframe needed to develop and commercialize new technologies, as well as enhance existing technologies.
The center is being pursued as a joint industry project convened under Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), with testing to begin by early 2017.
The structure of the joint industry project will see Suncor construct, own and operate the WTDC while collaborating with the other partners on design, construction and operations — including specific tests. As a dedicated test facility, the WTDC is expected to overcome the barriers that are common to field testing at commercial production facilities, which are not typically designed to accommodate simultaneous testing of water treatment technologies.
Testing priorities will include minimizing fresh water use and maximizing reliability for steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) production. The partners expect the facility to provide industry with the opportunity to develop new ways of approaching water treatment and recycling, resulting in positive environmental, social and economic outcomes.
Fasken Oil and Ranch in West Texas now uses 90 percent recycled water for hydraulic fracturing, putting the company 10 percent away from its goal of not using any freshwater for fracking, the Associated Press reported late last year.
The company is among an increasing number of oil and gas operations reusing water in a boon to water companies that are helping drillers use less freshwater and dispose of less wastewater.