Sunshine Oilsands Ltd. has selected GE’s produced water evaporation technology for its West Ells project in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project will initially produce 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) of bitumen — 5,000 bpd for each of the first two phases — and by using GE’s produced water evaporation process, will recycle 98 percent of the wastewater produced by the heavy oil production technique. Sunshine expects its West Ells site to eventually produce greater than 100,000 bpd of bitumen.
Sunshine continues a trend of oil producers choosing GE’s patented evaporative technology to treat and recycle SAGD produced water, enabling them to minimize makeup water consumption and comply with the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board regulations and directives pertaining to water use. The GE evaporator systems at West Ells will treat de-oiled produced water, boiler and heat recovery steam generator blowdown and brackish makeup water to produce a high-quality distillate suitable for use as feedwater for conventional drum boilers.
Under the contracts for Phases 1 and 2, GE is supplying its fourth-generation, fully modularized evaporator systems to achieve the lowest total installed costs. These advanced, module designs incorporate years of experience and optimizations resulting from numerous modularized evaporator projects designed and supplied by GE to clients in the Canadian oil sands. Sunshine currently is installing the Phase 1 evaporator system with the first steam milestone scheduled for mid-2013. The Phase 2 system is expected to be delivered in December 2013.
The Canadian oil sands have emerged as a critical resource in the world oil market producing 1.6 million bpd of heavy oil or bitumen in 2011. This is up 13 percent from 2010 and the growth is forecast to continue reaching 3.3 million bpd by 2020 and 5.4 million bpd in 2045, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
“As projects in Alberta’s oil sands continue to grow, so does the potential for production activities to produce large quantities of wastewater,” said Yuvbir Singh, general manager, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “Developers of oil sands resources are increasingly turning to GE’s evaporative and zero-liquid discharge technologies to address this critical issue.”