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By Donovan Nielsen

Most great technologies and innovations of our time were made possible and made history because of timing. Look at Amazon, Netflix or any of these companies that are really great case studies for turning their respective industries on their head. It’s often times not that they were the first to market or first to come up with the idea. It’s that there was a convergence of many things that happened at the same time to create the environment for their success. And that is what we are seeing in the oil and gas industry right now. We are seeing an appetite and a desire to do things better, an emphasis put on Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) applications, and we are seeing technology that will support what we want to do and how we want to do it. This critical point in history for the energy industry is a time where we need to fundamentally change, not only our design, but our way of thinking about the way we approach our projects. 

Enter PadX Partnership. The group has come together with the singular purpose to accelerate innovation of SAGD well pad design and execution through Western Canada. PadX Partnership was formed by seven leading energy sector organizations with a mission to collaboratively develop the next generation of standardized, sustainable and intelligent well pads as a response to the ever-changing energy landscape. Scovan is joined by Strathcona Resources Ltd., Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd., Harvest Energy Corp., Spartan Controls, and Gemini Fabrication as well as support from other industry SAGD producers..

Just like those other organizations that transformed their industries, Scovan and PadX Partnership are not necessarily the first to approach building an alliance to bring about innovation. Other organizations have attempted to create industry alliances in the past, with similar goals to improve efficiency and safety within the industry through collaborative business practices. However, where those in the past have failed, this group is set up for success. Pad-X Partnership has three distinct advantages. 

1: Timing. We are in unprecedented times where the oil and gas industry has faced the lowest commodity prices in history over the last year, and ever-increasing pressures to reduce green-house gas emissions. We see the convergence of elements and conditions that have set the right environment for this transformative work.

2: Common Mindset. The group is truly an equal collective with our common goal being the main driver. This unique partnership is the driving force behind the accelerated pace of progress and meaningful results. 

3: The Execution Strategy. Scovan Engineering and Gemini Fabrication bring a proven Zero-Base design that has been the result of improvements and field-based iterations over the last 10 years. By starting with a modular, proven zero base design, and through integrating AI technology, the team is able to accelerate the process to create a templated design that can be used for various assets and oil sands reservoirs. Modules will be manufactured on spec and maintained in inventory to provide agility to the industry, along with true standardization. 

The PadX Partnership offers the ability to standardize well pad designs, allowing us to leverage engineering, fabrication, and supply chain efficiencies. This leads to reduced project costs and start to finish cycle times, while providing flexibility to accommodate future production methods. Throughout the partnership I’ve been encouraged by the collaboration of the participants, which has helped all of us on the path of continual improvement.”

– Al Grabas, Senior Manager, Facilities at Strathcona Resources.

Our vision is to drive a true manufacturing approach to projects where we have given consideration to the entire life cycle, from fabrication to construction and onto maintenance and operability of the well pads. This full life cycle approach will ensure the resulting design will have strong ESG benefits along with a targeted reduction in capital costs of the well pads by 50%. The design of the new well pad will be developed based on the five key pillars of flexibility, cost efficiency, operability, future-proof innovation and quality.

Through bulk purchasing of materials and equipment we will reduce the number of shipments associated with delivering materials to the fabrication facility. We will achieve reduced waste during the manufacturing process through the optimization of materials in our assembly line fabrication setup and standardization of the overall design. We are looking for ways to eliminate or offset emissions during fabrication. The design itself sees smaller module sizes that reduce the footprint of the facilities and reduces the emissions associated with shipping modules to the project site. Additionally, less overall materials will be used in the construction of the modules, where we estimate a 50% reduction in structural steel. We are incorporating the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) that will help optimize the energy used to produce the bitumen, reducing the emissions associated with generating steam once in operation. Lastly, we are allowing for future upgrades to the design by having plug-and-play modules, to optimize during late life or to incorporate new technologies to continue to drive efficiency over the life of the asset. All of this will allow for a more streamlined, efficient, environmentally conscious and economically feasible approach to the future of the oil sands. 

Advanced technology 
Scovan has worked alongside with Drishya AI to co-develop the future of engineering and project execution. PadX Partnership and our future-ready design is utilizing advanced Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) in two specific ways. First, with ARTISAN, an AI-enabled one-stop Engineering Digitization solution for both brownfield and greenfield facilities. We are using ARTISAN right from the inception to help establish a baseline, assist in design, engineering, fabrication construction and operations with an objective to develop an engineering digital twin of the PadX design so any future modifications are seamless and new deployments can be made faster. Making the overall operations more efficient, sustainable, and profitable. Some of the tasks ARTISAN will aid in are:

• Finding similarities and differences between the different well pad designs 

• Helping in standardizing the nomenclature across clients and drawings 

• Creating new drawings from drawing templates 

• Creating new CAD drawings from PDF files 

• Automating the detection of design deviations and design risks 

• Aiding collaboration across teams that work on P&IDs 

• Speeding up the generation of engineering deliverables 

• Using Advanced Work Flows to allow a single source of truth for information to be used by all stakeholders 

The second way we are using advanced AI/ML is with BRAINS, a secured cloud-based AI/ML enablement application for industrial solutions. It enables brownfield and greenfield equipment to be S4-Ready; to have capabilities to Self-Operate, Self-Monitor, Self- Diagnose and Self Optimize. PadX will deploy BRAINS as a ground up AL/ML solution, part of every well pad, to help reduce overall operating overhead. 

The unique partnership of PadX, including organizations from design through construction to operation, working collaboratively, allows us to hone in on the aspects that will really make a difference and provides control to see these transformative changes through. 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 3

For more info on Scovan’s PadX well pad program or PadX Partnership, please contact:

Valerie Stewart, VP Strategy & Development
[email protected]