HipVap: Game-Changing Technology for SAGD

Lindsay/ Blog/ ESG

August 20, 2021

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By Jane Cavanagh P.Eng. Manager of Innovations for HipVap

HipVap Technologies Inc., a Scovan Engineering technology partner, is leading the design, fabrication, installation, and operation of the HipVap Indirect Fired Steam Generator (IFSG) commercial prototype in Alberta. The HipVap commercial pilot will be a single production-scale IFSG unit, providing innovative produced water steam generation, coupled with the ORSIL disposal water treatment system. The unit will be installed and operated at a Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) facility near Bonnyville, Alberta. Once commercialized, the IFSG will reduce water consumption, water disposal rates, direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land use, and the cost per barrel of oil produced. The IFSG eliminates the need for conventional SAGD water treatment processes for produced water, including produced water-cooling systems, to generate steam from produced water. As these systems are maintenance intensive, their removal offers operational cost savings, capital costs savings and significantly improves plant up-time. Additional benefits of the HipVap technology include reducing GHG’s and total land footprint of facilities. With the oil-sands industry’s drive to increase their environmental social governance (ESG) outlook and near-term commitments to achieve net-zero emissions, the HipVap IFSG will be a critical technology in supporting these initiatives.


• Reduced source water consumption and disposal by 1100m3/d and reduced GHG emissions of 280tCO2e/d for a 33,000 bopd facility based on warm lime softening. This is based on the ability to operate at a net water blowdown rate of less than 4% versus the current 8%

• Improved operations and reliability

• Prevention of scaling and tube failures (longer on-line time)

• More reliable on-stream time due to fewer unit operations

• Utilization of heat integration – energy savings (removal of produced water cooling)

• Reduced chemical usage and reduced solids disposal due to avoidance of calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide use

• No sludge ponds

• Significantly reduced CPF land use

• More economically competitive SAGD operations that will pay royalties sooner. For a 33,000 bopd facility, the capital cost is estimated to decrease by 24% The HipVap technology can be a solution for both greenfield and brownfield in-situ facilities going forward and assist to both improve metrics and ESG considerations for these projects.


• Small scale greenfield pad operations

• Pad based development expansions

• Pad developments with limited access to CPF facilities (steam distribution distance)

• SAGD facilities with produced water treatment limitations

• Pilot facilities The HipVap demonstration project will test a commercial scale IFSG exchanger for approximately 12 months.


• Design-build a commercial sized IFSG heat exchanger and test in an operating SAGD environment with variable produced water quality to determine the best design parameters

• Engineer, install and operate the IFSG balance of plant equipment, including a hot oil heater, steam separator, flash tanks, pumps and associated blowdown system to validate the produced water steam generation process design, validate CAPEX and OPEX, and identify any challenges for commercial development

• Evaluate and measure the effectiveness of the ORSIL technology to reduce blowdown waste, disposal cost and environmental impacts of produced water waste

HipVap IFSG Technology


√ Reduced equipment required for steam generation resulting in less capital, lower footprint, an overall ESG benefits

√ Reduced GHG Emissions by up to 1.2 M Tonnes CO2e per year through both efficient steam generation and blowdown improvements

√ Process blowdown waste to lower disposal cost and reduced makeup water requirement

HipVap is proud to be working with an awesome team of contributing partners for the execution phase of this project including Scovan Engineering, Gemini Fabrication, Strathcona Resources, Drishya AI Labs, and Orsico.


• Project Kick-off – January 2021

• Field Construction – September 2021

• Commissioning – November 2021

• First Test and Operational Balancing – December 2021

• Operate, Test, and Optimize – January 2022 to December 2022

• Final Project Reporting – February 2023 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 2

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