Surmont II was, at the time, the largest expansion to a steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operation ever executed in Alberta, adding 83,000 barrels per day of production to ConocoPhillips’ oil sands operations. The project goals were clear — high performance in productivity, safety and quality — and PCL delivered on all fronts, setting 417 modules, installing 53,000 meters of piping, pressure testing 153,000 meters of piping, pulling 2 million meters of electrical cable and more.

PCL took over scope from another contractor, improving productivity year over year early in the project. We  were able to maintain our productivity levels through transition from bulk construction to completions, a period that normally sees construction slow down. Instead, we improved productivity even more towards the end of the project while still turning over clean systems.

On the safety front, PCL’s culture drove vast improvements as we took on more scope, dropping the total recordable incident rate (TRIR) to an industry-leading 0.14 in the last year of construction. In total, we achieved 500 consecutive days (more than 4 million labor hours) without a lost-time incident and 342 days (2.9 million labor hours) without a recordable incident.

A big part of these successes was the level of communication we built into the project. PCL and ConocoPhillips teams implemented informal “Time to Talk” and “Time to Walk” meetings three times per week to address various items on the project. The informal nature of the meetings, one of which each week would talk place walking around the site, led to more candid opinions and discussions, which in turn led to better understanding the expectations from the owner and better illustrating to them the issues being faced during construction.

Collaboration between PCL’s superintendent and coordinators and ConocoPhillips’ superintendents was also very high. Superintendents would walk the job site together to perform HSE audits, identify productivity issues, plan for upcoming tasks and more, and all three groups would work together for interactive job planning, utilizing model reviews and strategic planning sessions to align the teams. ConocoPhillips’ superintendents were also asked to attend our critical action meetings and our daily safety inspections.

Surmont II was the first project to utilize PCL’s Engineered Module Lift Frame, which significantly reduces rigging time when setting modules in place. It was also the first project where we utilized our in-house software suite for digital quality inspection and form completion.

A shift at 60% completion also led to unusual circumstances where the focus shifted from bulk construction to system completion on Train 1 while the other two trains were still undergoing bulk construction. This required a detailed planning shift that we were able to adapt to and maintain our productivity through.

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