This article is part of the Spring 2018 edition of the Journal of the Canadian Heavy Oil Association.
For more than 70 years Husky Energy has been a leading heavy oil producer, with extensive production and refining facilities in the Lloydminster region of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Through much of that period the company has relied on conventional production techniques such as cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS). While reliable, the mature technology is limited in the amount of oil it can recover. Typically, CHOPS recovers only about eight percent of the oil in place.
In recent years, Husky has begun transforming its heavy oil business by increasingly turning towards thermal technology to boost production, reduce costs and recover more of the oil in place.
Since 2010, Husky has completed construction of seven new thermal bitumen plants with a combined capacity of about 55,000 bbls/d. It currently has an additional six plants under development which will add another 60,000 bbls/day by 2021. A number of further thermal development opportunities have been identified.
A key to success is in being able to recruit employees with the right skills to work at the thermal facilities. Power engineers in particular are in high demand throughout the industry.
Husky has partnered with regional colleges and institutions to foster development of these much sought after skills.
At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the company provided funding to support upgrades to the school’s Power Engineering Technology Lab. The funding allowed Saskatchewan Polytechnic to run its lab year-round and increase the lab’s capacity by 25 percent.
In Lloydminster, the company partnered with Lakeland College and provided funding to the Heavy Oil Power Engineering (HOPE) program towards equipment for a lab which features water separation equipment to simulate thermal operations. Lakeland features an integrated power plant – the Energy Centre – which has its own once through steam generator (OTSG) to give students first-hand training.
Husky is also a strong proponent of providing hands-on experience and meaningful assignments for students at its thermal facilities. It offers student co-op and internship positions year-round with terms up to 16 months in areas such as engineering, geology, geophysics and instrumentation.
Technologies in the oil and gas industry continue to evolve quickly and educational partnerships are vitally important in being able to capitalize on the potential benefits.
Sponsoring the 2018 Student Delegation at the Society of Petroleum Engineers-Canadian Heavy Oil Association Slugging it Out Conference is just one more way Husky is fostering this key relationship.