Nexen Inc. engaged Tetra Tech to complete the geotechnical design while supplementing the design with construction monitoring and testing for its Kinosis K1A facility, a stand-alone steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) and processing facility. Tetra Tech also provided environmental assessments.

Tetra Tech had a previous relationship, established through work on the nearby Long Lake processing facility, and a Master Service Agreement already in place with Nexen. The Kinosis K1A facility is 12 kilometers south of Nexen’s Long Lake facility and 40 kilometers southeast of Fort McMurray, AB. Twenty-nine wells were drilled. Four generators installed at Kinosis provide steam for the wells, using water supplied by the Long Lake facility.

Tetra Tech was the geotechnical engineer of record for the project, which included construction of two floating drill pads, storm retention ponds, roadways, and an on-site processing facility. The challenges of this project included constructing drilling pads over an area filled with soft, wet peat. This challenge was overcome by using a specialized geotextile while placing and compacting fill over the geotextile in a specific sequence.

Tetra Tech ensured that the contractor performing the work used appropriate construction techniques. Our team also assessed areas that had been contaminated with hydrocarbons due to abandoned drilling waste sumps to determine the limits of the affected area and whether the material could remain in place. A low groundwater table, wet soils, and a short construction season also contributed to complications on the project, which were overcome with the help of direct communication with the owner and the contractor.

Tetra Tech recommended a pile-testing program to better determine pile load capacities. During this process, the design parameters were revised, allowing for cost savings attributable to the pile lengths driven and the shortened schedule for installing the piles.