The Westside Produced Water Project, built for Chevron USA, Inc, is a plant designed to filter produced water from the Cymric oil field in central California. The Cymric field has produced 500 million barrels since 1909. Two-thirds of all oil in Kern County is heavy, which requires that steam be injected into the ground to reduce the oil’s viscosity so it can be pumped out. Condensed steam and groundwater has to be separated from the oil. The oil is then shipped through pipelines to refineries, most produced water is recycled for steam generation, and excess water is sent to the water injection plant. The Westside water injection plant treats and filters this water, making it suitable for subsurface reinjection. With production increasing faster at Cymric than at any other field in California, the plant offers an important resource for reducing the environmental footprint of oil production operations.
The Cymric Oil Field is a large oil field in Kern
County, California, north of the town of McKittrick.
Chevron is the largest oil and gas
producer in California. The majority of
its production comes from
company-operated leases in three
major crude oil fields: Kern River,
Midway Sunset, and Cymric.
Seeking Out Cost-Effective Alternatives
As part of the scope of the project, piping supports had to be installed along a 300-foot corridor of 12 kV power lines. The challenge was installing a 20-foot support with 25 feet of clearance underneath the power lines, while maintaining the minimum 10-foot clearance set out by Operational Safety and Health Administration regulations. Turning off the power in order to work alongside the power lines is rarely done, and in this case was not an option. The alternative was to use a common method of insulating the length of the power line to be able to encroach on the 10-foot barrier, which would translate into insulating 1200 feet of power lines to cover the multiple spans. Rather than use the traditional and somewhat costly method, the PCL team came up with a third option, which was half the cost of the only other viable option. Line trucks are used to set power poles, and because they are insulated, can get within a foot of a power line. By using the line truck, the PCL team was able to cut expenses in half while also minimizing safety risks associated with working with live power.
Creating an Open Dialogue
The importance of communication cannot be overstated, especially where safety is concerned. Workers from different projects and backgrounds were hired for this project, which meant that more time was needed to ensure every person was properly educated on safety and site practices. Effective practices were communicated to workers through formal means like safety meetings each morning, as well as through informal peer-to-peer channels where each worker was diligent in making sure others understood the different ways in which they all contribute to safety. Twice a month, Lunch-and-Learn sessions complemented these efforts and further increased communication about safety.
The benefits of effective communication extended to the build. The PCL project team listened and gave consideration on how to best communicate with Chevron to determine this client’s wants and needs. Knowledge of Chevron’s goals helped uncover efficiencies that were not immediately apparent, which allowed the PCL team to add value by creating effective solutions.