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Out of an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of oil in Alberta’s heavy oil reserves, close to 170 billion barrels are considered economically recoverable with the help of modern technology. This makes the province the third-largest crude oil reserve on the planet. With such intensive concentration of the world’s future fuels, feeding the ever-growing international oil demand, it is no wonder that new projects have mushroomed in recent years.
An especially promising region is the Peace River valley in the Oil Sands, currently home to 60 oil projects. Of these, 4 are still in their approval stage, 14 are in various stages of construction and the rest have either been completed or near completion.
Carmon Creek Project Overview
Among Peace River’s rapidly progressing projects is Shell’s heavy oil in situ Carmon Creek Project, currently in Phase 1 of its construction. The phase is expected to reach completion in 2017, with another one starting in parallel and scheduled for completion in 2018. Carmon Creek has a projected capacity of producing 80,000 barrels of bitumen per day (the estimated capacity for the first phase is 40,000 barrels per day), relying exclusively on thermal recovery techniques.
Technology and Construction
The in situ process employed at Carmon Creek requires heat energy, such as steam, to be used to reduce the viscosity of bitumen to make deep recovery easier. This is in turn associated with a number of drilling-based methods that require the latest in drilling technology.
To facilitate the project, Shell is planning on building 3 co-generation power plants, as well as an above-ground pipeline, which will carry the produced steam from the power plants to the well pad. In addition, the company will construct water filtering facilities, which will treat and recycle all water used in the drilling process. Finally, the project requires its own infrastructure put into place as well as building the necessary fresh water wells and deep disposal and injection wells.
With all the activity currently underway ever since Carmon Creek received its green light in April 2013, and with the estimated permanent staff of only 250 people, the project is well in need of a tremendous force of contractors and subcontractors to stay on schedule.
Being in its construction phase at the moment, Carmon Creek is increasingly attracting contractors from the area to fulfill the project’s various needs in supply and services. In fact, Shell authorities have disclosed that they expect their workforce to peak at 1,200 construction and equipment supply staff members throughout 2015 and 2016.
Currently, the project’s supply and services agreements are open to bidding mainly from local contractors that meet Shell’s rigorous standards in terms of environmental and safety best practices. These contractors are expected in turn to employ local businesses to help stimulate the local economy.
The need for quality contractors will extend beyond the initial construction phase of Carmon Creek. Since the project is associated with infrastructure construction, well pad and drilling for its entire duration, opportunities will exist well into the future, or as Shell themselves have predicted – for at least the next 35 years.
Getting in touch
In 2013, the company established a career and contractor information centre in the town of Peace River to give local residents the chance to get to know the project and find suitable positions or business opportunities.
Additionally, to get in direct contact or inquire about available contractor opportunities, please visit the Carmon Creek Project Page on Shell.ca