Oil sands

We understand the industry challenges and have the capabilities and expertise to engineer, design and construct in-situ facilities and operations, including well pads and pipelines. As steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) field facilities experts, we help operators produce oil sands bitumen efficiently and safely, and are involved in the design and development of numerous oil sands and heavy oil production and processing facilities. We understand the requirements of steam-generation plants and distribution systems for thermal recovery projects.

Ausenco specialises in the application of thermal techniques involving SAGD together with a variety of other thermal recovery processes. We design integrated thermal recovery facilities that accommodate heavy oil with contaminants such as hydrogen sulphide, high paraffin content, asphaltenes, salt, sand and other inorganics.

Our experience encompasses all phases of project development, from conceptual design and pre-application work, through DBM, FEED and detailed engineering of oil sands and heavy oil production and processing facilities.

Well pads, pad standardisation and pipelines

Ausenco's experts are specialists when it comes to the design of SAGD well pads, wellhead control modules, pad surface facilities and pipelines.

We have worked on multiple design configurations and have developed well pads and flow line designs that have been benchmarked to some of the leanest and lowest costs in the industry. Our significant experience, combined with a practical approach to execution, has resulted in providing safe, operable and cost-effective facilities to a range of clients.

We work closely with each operator to design standardised well pad and pipeline templates suitable for client-specific applications or customised for their specific needs. By standardising pad design elements within a project, Ausenco has achieved substantial reductions in front-end engineering for successive pads. Our templates achieve design, construction and operations cost reduction, and are often transferrable to future projects, yet adaptable to unusual pad requirements.

Our extensive project experience provides a unique perspective on industry best practices. It also enables us to conduct benchmarking studies for operators looking to increase efficiency. Our well pad benchmarking studies have provided clients with valuable information on how their facilities' infrastructure and costs compare to the industry standard.

Whether applying an existing design to SAGD well pad development plans, optimising an existing design, or developing a new standardised well pad program, we have an impressive track record of client satisfaction.

  • Standardisation
  • Modularisation
  • Optimisation
  • Lifecycle analysis
  • Benchmarking
  • Enhanced recovery technologies
  • Long-range development planning.

Central Processing Facilities

With our experience involving a variety of facilities and technologies and our track record of successful project delivery, Ausenco's expertise and capabilities provide cost-effective facility designs to clients.

Ausenco's experience includes the completion of the DBM and FEED for Central Processing Facilities (CPF) projects ranging in size from 500 to 42,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) of bitumen capacity.

Ausenco has designed and developed various CPFs including oil treatment, water treatment, and utilities that are low cost, safe and industry compliant, and designed integrated supporting infrastructure:

  • Production field facilities, including well pads and infield pipeline gathering and distribution systems
  • Make-up and disposal water field facilities, including source water wells and pipelines and disposal wells and pipeline
  • Infrastructure, utilities and off-sites, and site-wide services.

We have successfully helped clients study, identify and solve system-wide performance and/or capacity issues. Similarly, we have provided cost-effective debottlenecking solutions that minimised impact on existing operations.

Solvent and new recovery technologies

Ausenco's experience in designing and building solvent-aided SAGD projects has ranged from evaluating equipment configurations and process scenarios complete with total installed cost estimates through to providing full EPCM services on projects.

Our solvent-aided production and recovery experience, along with our designs tailored to the specific solvent and reservoir conditions on each project, enables us to achieve better outcomes for our clients.

Our experence also includes the design of surface facilities for a client piloting an experimental technology for Toe-to-Heel Air Injection™ (THAI™).


Our expertise in standardisation and modularisation is extensive and creates both short and long-term cost savings, and the greatest optimisation potential for projects.

Our clients benefit from reduced onsite construction requirements (improving site safety, productivity and schedule certainty), enhanced quality control, minimised field assembly costs, and reduced overall costs by maximising the amount of high quality fabrication that Ausenco can provide under off-site controlled conditions. Our clients also benefit from Ausenco’s global procurement capabilities which allow us to fabricate and build modules in geographic locations with significantly lower labour and/or material costs than more local markets.

Operations and maintenance capital projects

Working with many of the major oil sands operators, our growth has been driven by demand for maintenance capital and sustaining capital solutions and upgrades.

Ausenco understands the importance of maintenance capital projects to the profitability and reliability of any operation. Maintenance capital projects require a dedicated and flexible workforce capable of simultaneously executing multiple projects, working closely with operations personnel and reacting quickly to changing priorities.

Demand for Ausenco’s asset management and optimisation service offering, supported by our traditional operations and maintenance capabilities, continues to grow as we consistently demonstrate our ability to deliver cost savings to clients.

Our designs for numerous operators, complemented by our development of a variety of facility configurations, give us access to extensive industry and benchmarking information.This enables Ausenco to design a facility or complete sustaining and maintenance capital projects that allow the operator to get the most out of existing assets. We help keep production facilities in optimum operating condition and effectively utilise debottlenecking processes to increase production. When equipment upgrades are called for, we implement with minimum disruption and work closely with clients’ operational teams to understand the specific challenges and nuances of the plant.

Process and asset optimisation

Ausenco helps clients study, identify, and solve system-wide performance and/or capacity issues.  We provide cost effective debottlenecking solutions that minimise impact on existing operations. Ausenco’s experience is scalable from small projects through to facility expansions.

Our services include:

  • Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)
  • Solvent co-injection
  • Well pads and pipelines and infrastructure design
  • Steam generation facilities
  • Technology consultation and selection
  • High pressure, temperature emulsion pipelines expertise
  • Retrofitting and debottlenecking facilities.

Contact us

For more information on our Oil sands solutions, please contact one of our specialists:

  • David Spagnolo, Snr Vice President, Oil & Gas and Global Practice Lead - david.spagnolo@ausenco.com
  • Bob Zunti, General Manager, Oil & Gas - robert.zunti@ausenco.com