Pilot plant demonstrates toe-to-heel air injection oil sands recovery process

Whitesands THAI Pilot Plant
Conklin, Alberta, Canada
2005 - 2007
Industry Sector
Oil & Gas
Oil Sands
Service Area
Project Delivery; Upstream Consulting
Commissioning; Construction Management; EPC/EPCM Contracting; Program Management; Feasibility Studies; Oil Sands

This project was designed to demonstrate Petrobank’s Toe-to-Heel Air Injection (THAI™) oil sands recovery process in a field setting The THAI™ process is estimated to recover 70-80% of the bitumen in place, with significantly lower operating costs, negligible fresh water use, 50% less greenhouse gas emissions, and a smaller surface footprint than other oil sands recovery processes currently in use.

The project was designed to produce up to 300 m3/day (1,800 bbl/day) of partially upgraded bitumen from the McMurray Formation of the Athabasca oil sands. Based on the Whitesands results, Petrobank planned a greenfield commercial THAI™ at May River, with a central processing facility. The first phase of the project is planned to produce 10,000 to 15,000 bbl/d of partially upgraded bitumen.

Whitesands project facilities include:

  • three vertical air injection wells and three horizontal production wells
  • nine temperature and pressure observation wells
  • two water supply wells and two water disposal wells
  • a steam generation unit
  • four air compression units
  • a production treating and storage facility, including a wellhead separator and gas sweetener

Ausenco provided full EPCM and commissioning support services for the pilot plant. Unique engineering challenges due to unknown process parameters were encountered and overcome.

Project highlights:

  • first THAI™ pilot plant
    • Ausenco provided full EPCM services
  • addressed unique engineering challenges
  • fast track project
    • Ausenco provided commissioning support services