As a part of steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) oil mining operations, well pads are built to inject the steam and solvent into the ground and produce heavy crude and bitumen to be sent to a central processing site. But these well pads have a finite life cycle, and for a large volume energy producer like Suncor, whose Mackay River and Firebag operations both utilize SAGD technology, this means regularly developing new well pads to continue feeding the central processor.

Since 2013, PCL has partnered with Suncor on new well pads at both their SAGD facilities in the Alberta oil sands, and over that time we have worked with them to standardize, modularize and economize their installations. Over 10 well pad projects with Suncor, we have been able to reduce installation cost from approximately $20 million to under $5 million, and construction schedule from nine months to 15 weeks in duration.

Through our Special Projects group, PCL was able to utilize the core team from one well pad project to the next, building a strong bond with the owner’s project and operations team. We have polished our plans and approaches to take a repeatable, almost production-line approach to installing these well pads, leading us to higher quality installations on shorter schedules, even as we have embraced lean construction methods.

Utilizing our Last Planner board planning systems has allowed our team to account for delivery delays and other planning delays that can arise in the construction process, and our experience on site and ability to work with our counterparts at Suncor has led to trust that our supervision team can adjust to any situation on the fly. Over the course of this program, by working with all involved from the owners to the module fabricators towards collective improvement, we have managed to bring down site-noted deficiencies from the thousands to a handful of minor ones.

Most importantly, we are very proud that over 10 projects and 400,000 labor hours, our well pad team has not had a single recordable safety incident. 

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