Managing and reducing the environmental liabilities that arise from operating oil and gas production facilities is a challenge for most producers. In the conventional production regions of Western Canada, they have been further challenged with reduced revenue to offset these liabilities.
Since 2008, Golder has been supporting a few global oil and gas companies with liability reduction programs for inactive upstream assets in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. Our clients historically operated many thousands of individual production assets which are now almost all at end of life and in the abandonment, decommissioning, and closure stages.
Wells, gathering facilities, pipelines and gas plant sites are evaluated for any environmental liability. Once evaluated, a liability reduction program which progresses the site toward regulatory closure is to be implemented.
Golder has actively supported our clients in these activities by providing demolition, decommissioning, site assessment, remediation, reclamation, and closure services at hundreds of inactive sites. Working with our clients to refine the approach along the way, we have implemented the following strategies to save costs and improve the efficiency of execution:
Health and Safety Management – Upstream sites have unique hazards that need to be understood and managed appropriately. We have a team that understands the specific hazards and mitigations on upstream sites as well as client-specific needs. Having a team that understands these unique challenges leads to safe and effective project execution.
Area or Region-Based Site Management – Areas with a high density of sites in a relatively small geographic region provide opportunities for efficiency of execution of decommissioning, assessment, remediation, and reclamation. Golder has used this strategy to create a specialist team of consultants dedicated to specific long-term, region-based site management projects and to procure dedicated and cost-efficient services from local subcontractors.
A Broad Look at the Data – While it is common to take the assessment data and develop your path to closure (roadmap, timeframes, effort), the real benefits are realized when you roll the data up to a program-wide level. This helps develop annual workplans and execution strategies, creating a more predictable spend profile from year to year and forecast as far as ten years out for the client.
Development of Risk-Based Site Closure Strategies for Managing Contaminants – We use environmental risk management approaches that consider ecological and human health receptor protection to determine cost effective clean up solutions. Some of these risk based approaches include working to minimize the volumes of soil and groundwater that need to be remediated and maximizing the materials that can be left undisturbed, as well as identifying strategies that work on sites with similar contaminant profiles and transferring those strategies to other sites as a cost and time savings to our clients. Predictive modelling is used to support the risk management strategy and is particularly effective for produced water (salt) impacts where impacts are widespread, remediation is challenging and costly, and the potential future effects on receptors can be predicted with reasonable accuracy.
Creative Remediation Strategies – For sites where remediation is required, we implement strategies that minimize waste streams and reduce the cost and carbon footprint of remediation. Some of these strategies include implementation of on-site small-scale passive bioremediation at multiple sites and in-situ management of historical drilling waste releases. Where more complex remedial strategies are required, Golder has leveraged its internal network of technical experts to develop site specific solutions.
Site Reclamation and Closure – Golder has a team of experts in upstream reclamation who work with regulators and stakeholders to progress sites to final closure. We steward each site as it progresses to the closure stage, meeting the regulatory, landowner and client requirements along the way.
Implementing these strategies on large portfolios of sites for our clients has benefited them by realizing efficiencies, balancing risk, and ultimately providing them cost savings. We have now driven the regulatory closure of over 100 sites, and the effective progression of many hundreds more.