NEWS FROM THE FIELD
Solar plant slated for Weyburn
Weyburn Review - A solar power generating project is being proposed for the RM of Weyburn, with the plan to have it commissioned by December of 2020.
An open house for the project was held for the public to hear information and provide any input they might have.
The project is being proposed by the Pesakastew Solar Limited Partnership on 90 acres of land located southwest of Weyburn, using an array of photovoltaic solar panels to produce 10 megawatts of power for Saskatchewan’s electrical grid. The project would be developed by a renewable energy company, Natural Forces, who is a partner along with George Gordon Developments Ltd. and Red Dog Holdings Ltd., both First Nations companies.
According to information provided by the proponents, the benefits of this project are to provide clean electricity to 2,400 homes and displace the equivalent of 18,860 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
The project requires a technical proposal, which will be submitted to Saskatchewan Environmental Assessment and Stewardship, with the required preliminary environmental studies currently underway on the proposed site. The studies began in the spring of 2018 and will continue through the spring of 2019. Once this is submitted, Sask. Environment’s technical review committee will determine if an environmental impact assessment will be required.
An extensive list of studies will be done, including soil mapping, a heritage resource review and studies on numerous environmental factors.
The Dead South members keep their day jobs
Regina Leader-Post - The four members of the Regina band The Dead South have achieved international fame, with sold-out shows around the world. The quartet is winning awards including two 2018 Western Canadian Music Awards, for breakout artist of the year and roots duo/group of the year and a Juno in 2018 for traditional roots album of the year.
And The Dead South is making enough money to allow its members to quit their day jobs — although some haven’t. Cello player and vocalist Danny Kenyon is a structural engineer who has worked on projects like the new Mosaic Stadium, Hill Tower 3 and “a big hole in the floor” at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for Scotty the T-Rex. Kenyon admits he isn’t doing as much engineering work. Cutting back on other commitments to focus on the band has been part of a conscious effort to prioritize his health.
“Before I would go on a tour, then the next day, I would end up working after a long flight home,” said Kenyon. “Too many years of that’ll take a couple of years off your life.”
Engineers busy with Mac the Moose
Discover Moose Jaw - Moose Jaw’s Mac the Moose might not be making daily headlines anymore, but that doesn’t mean Team Mac isn’t doing hours upon hours of work for this project.
The hope is that the city’s mascot will get a new rack to reclaim his title. However, the question of whether he can he handle it remains.
A team of professionals in various industries hopes to answer that question in the future.
Tourism Moose Jaw’s Executive Director Jacki L’Heureux-Mason said members of the team have been in and out of their parking lot conducting various tests and gathering information for the engineering report in a variety of ways. “We had engineering students here running scans of Mac. This is going to help them create some 3-D imaging (and) once we get the green light from the engineers we can start making some antlers that fit Mac’s head appropriately,” explained L’Heureux-Mason.
In order to get the information, they need to do a thorough check of Mac.
“They cut a big hole in Mac’s belly and they crawled up and took a look for any signs of weakness that would make this project not safe and feasible.”
She added that her favourite way to execute a project is to do it with a collaborating team, noting that she couldn’t have chosen better people to work with.
“I think that we’re going to have some very, very proud participants in this. Brysen from Steady Metal Works was like a kid in a candy store getting up there and one of the guys who came from Concentric Engineering said, ‘I will probably never stick my head in the belly of a moose again.’ There’s a lot of excitement. It’s a unique opportunity and what it means to the community just makes it more special.”
New CT scanner opens new era in core analysis
Pipeline News – One of the most significant new diagnostic tools in oilpatch research and development is a new computerized tomography (CT) scanner put in place at the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) facilities in Regina.
The Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) provided much of the funding for the CT scanner and SRC is the organization employing it.
“When we’re looking at enhanced oil recovery, whether its bitumen or in the Bakken, what the CT scanner allows us to do is look inside the rock at very, very high resolution and understand what is actually going on during these processes,” Mike Crabtree, Saskatchewan Research Council’s vice president for their energy division, said.
An operator might cut a four-inch core several metres long. “We would take a section of that core and inject some water and surfactant. Before the CT scanner, we would inject at one end and see what comes out the other end. We might tap the core along the top for pressure, but you would characterize the performance of it by looking at what goes in and what comes out. Maybe when you’re finished, you might excavate the core, to have a look inside to see what changes may have occurred.”
“The CT scanner allows us to visualize the rock and the fluid as it is moving through the core. We can see how water and other materials are interacting with the oil at various points in the core. We can then look at different temperatures and pressures and how that performs in real-time. It’s a big step forward. It’s the only one of its type used in this application in Canada. There are only two or three machines of this power and scale in Canada and probably only about a half dozen across all North America,” Crabtree said. While other labs have medical CT scanners, this one is industrial grade. This provides higher penetration, allowing it to penetrate steel.
In addition to reservoir cores, other items such as metal tools, diamonds, fossils and potash have been scanned.
Capstone projects at University of Regina
CTV News - The year has culminated into a final project for engineering students at the University of Regina. Earlier in April, they showed off their work , eight months in the making.
Natnael Alemu is in his final year as an electronics engineering student and his team’s project is focused on monitoring some of Saskatchewan’s rough roads. Sensors attached to vehicles collect data on bumps while driving.
Alemu and his team have developed a website (roadquality.ca) that shows the data they have collected. They hope that their software could even have some application with Google.
The annual project day gave students a chance to showcase their work to industry professionals and finish off their year of studies.
Some students, like electronics engineering student Bridget Palaschuk, are already seeing some real-life applications for their projects. She developed a beer keg monitoring system that brings up to the minute stats like temperature, amount poured and even the foam, on a few of the taps at the bar on campus.
Initiative to encourage Indigenous engineers
Global News - A commitment has been made to increase the number of Indigenous students at the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) College of Engineering.
The college officially launched a new engineering access program which is part of its Indigenous Peoples Initiatives Community (IPIC).
University officials said the program is designed to help Indigenous students build the academic foundation they need to enrol in the college and provide students with ongoing support to help them complete their degrees.
It was created with support from the International Minerals Innovation Institute (IMII).
“It is important to the mining industry to help create new opportunities for Indigenous peoples in the minerals sector workforce,” IMII executive director Al Shpyth said in a press release.
“A degree in engineering provides these students with the tools and qualifications they need to become outstanding role models for following generations of Indigenous engineers.”
U of S officials said the IPIC program supports prospective Indigenous learners with a year of academic upgrading for students who do not have the required pre-requisites to apply to the College of Engineering. Social, academic and financial supports are available for Indigenous students in the college.
Mining industry critical of Bill C-69
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - Nutrien wants the federal government to yank controversial new legislation that would overhaul the environmental assessment process for major energy and natural resource projects. “C-69 creates uncertainty and additional regulation that we think will be bad for our industry, bad for the industries that support and feed our organization. And it’s unnecessary. We think it should be scrapped, period,” Nutrien Ltd. Chief Administrative Officer Mike Webb told reporters after testifying about Bill C-69 before a Senate of Canada standing committee in Saskatoon.
Western Canada’s energy sector has been one of the most vocal critics of C-69. Some have dubbed it the “anti-pipeline” bill. Saskatchewan’s mining industry also has deep reservations.
Nutrien and Mosaic Co. – which together operate nine of Saskatchewan’s 10 potash mines – as well as Cameco Corp. were among the speakers who picked it apart in front of the Senate’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Cameco, which owns two uranium mines and a mill in northern Saskatchewan and has been struggling amid a lengthy depression in nuclear fuel prices, has slightly different concerns about the proposed legislation. Alice Wong, the company’s chief corporate officer, said the biggest challenge facing her industry is that it automatically refers proposed uranium mines to a “much more complicated” approval process that includes a review panel.
“There are no science-based facts to support that. There’s nothing in a uranium mine that’s different from a regular mine and we’re already regulated by our life-cycle regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission,” she told reporters.
Cameco to clean up contaminated water
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - Canada’s largest uranium producer says it’s developing a plan to clean up groundwater contaminated with uranium and radiation four months after it was first discovered at a shuttered mill in northern Saskatchewan.
Cameco Corp. reported in December that a sampling well adjacent to its Key Lake mill “was showing an increasing trend in uranium concentration” after 50,000 litres of water were “released” over the previous year.
Carey Hyndman, a spokeswoman for the Saskatoon-based company, said that the incident was immediately reported to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).
She said the company is working with both regulators, as well as third-party consultations, to determine how the water – which was being used as a radiation shield in the building – moved into the groundwater. The company also held information meetings with local communities, including the English River First Nation, Hyndman said.
The incident appears to be localized and is not a risk to drinking water sources for animals or for people working at the site and has not moved to nearby bodies of water, Hyndman said.
CBC News reported that CNSC officials believe that while it appears the uranium is isolated, there is more work to be done.
Cameco closed the Key Lake mill and nearby McArthur River mine in early 2018 in the face of persistently weak uranium prices. The shutdown was expected to last 10 months before it was made indefinite months later.
Enhanced oil recovery gaining traction
Pipeline News - At times, it has looked like Saskatchewan’s leading stance in the geologic storage of carbon dioxide, as well as its implementation in enhanced oil recovery (EOR), wasn’t gaining much traction worldwide. But that may be changing.
In late February-early March, Sinopec, one of China’s national oil companies, sent a large delegation to Saskatchewan for two weeks to learn about what operators and researchers in the province are doing.
Norm Sacuta, who handles communications with the PTRC, noted that recent changes in American law, specifically one called 45Q, are having significant implications south of the border. Those changes involve credits of $30 per tonne for carbon dioxide used in enhanced oil recovery.
As such, there’s a new term being used these days. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is now being referred to in some circles as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). Those tax changes may have a profound impact on the viability of using carbon dioxide in EOR schemes and could revive projects that have stalled.
If something like 45Q was implemented in Canada, Erik Nickel, PTRC’s director of operations, thinks we could see the implantation of CCS on the Shand Power Station and other coal-fired power plants and the building of a CO2 trunk line throughout southeast Saskatchewan, with a ramp-up of CO2 injection in a lot of the Mississippian oilfields in the region.
At the 2018 Williston Basin Conference, North Dakota’s governor boldly predicted that his state would reach two million barrels per day (bbls/d) of oil production, up from the 1.2 million bbls/d at the time (a year later, the state has now reached 1.4 million bbls/d). He said they would reach two million bbls/d by using every CO2 source possible from lignite coal production in the state and North Dakota could even become a CO2 importer. Nickel said, “Once they start having to write the cheques to put the capture on these plants, that’s where the rubber meets the road. Saskatchewan is one of the few jurisdictions that had the guts to actually do it. To me, that’s incredibly impressive that we were able to complete this.”BACK TO TOP
Funding for water and wastewater projects
Journal of Commerce - The Government of Canada has announced it will put $27.3 million towards eight Saskatchewan water and wastewater projects.
The Government of Saskatchewan will match the federal funding through the New Building Canada Fund and funding recipients are responsible for the remaining costs. In total, $82.1 million will be invested by federal, provincial and recipient project contributions.
The largest project is a $20 million wastewater treatment and water distribution upgrade for the City of Martensville, followed by $13.6 million worth of primary sanitary sewer trunk upgrades for the City of North Battleford. Approximately $12.2 million will go to the Prairie North Regional Potable Water Supply System maintained by SaskWater in the Lloydminster area and the City of Yorkton will receive $11.1 million for north sewer system upgrades.
SaskWater will upgrade the regional water treatment plant in Melfort for approximately $8.5 million and the Town of Maple Creek will have $5.9 million for wastewater treatment upgrades. Around $5.6 million will go to drinking water system upgrades for the Town of Blaine Lake and $5 million is earmarked for wastewater lagoon upgrades for the Town of Kindersley.
Bridge collapse sparks province-wide inspection
Canora Courier - Following the failure of a newly constructed bridge in the RM of Clayton last fall, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure partnered through the Municipal Roads for the Economy Program to commission an inspection and structural assessment of bridges known to have similar design and construction, according to a release from the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.
An engineering firm inspected six bridges located throughout Saskatchewan and preliminary findings recommend that five of the six bridges be weight restricted to carry less than secondary weights. These weight restrictions affect a bridge in the RM of Caledonia, the RM of Mervin and the RM of Scott as well as two bridges in the RM of Perdue, said the release.
Some of these bridges impact heavy haul routes in the province, including one Alternate Truck Route and one Clearing the Path corridor.
To ensure public safety, the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure is working with the rural municipalities to weight restrict or close the roadways containing these bridges until appropriate improvements or remedial work can be completed.
Results of the inspection and assessment will be forwarded to the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, professional engineers must follow the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code when designing a bridge.