Several engineering companies have band together to conduct environmental research into the operations of Canada’s oil sands. One of the engineering firms that helped Lafarge Canada upgrade a cement kiln located in Exshaw, Alberta was WorleyParsonsKomex. The company was also responsible for obtaining environmental permits and giving geotechnical services for Lafarge’s expansion plan to bring up the facility’s manufacturing capacity by 60 percent. The upgrade, which costs $20 million, substantially minimized emissions of sulphur dioxide by 60 percent and reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by 40 percent. It also included equipment that reduced the plant’s dust and noise levels.
On the other hand, AECOM Technology is currently undertaking three environmental research projects on the use and recycling of water for Canada’s oil sands projects. The study is being done for Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), an organization composed of oil sands producers. COSIA’s goal is for the producers to work together in looking for new technologies and seeking new methods to reduce the industry’s impacts to the environment. So far, its member firms have already come up with 560 technologies worth $900 million.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $23 million contract to engineering firm Tetra Tech. The single-award contract covers five years and will use field work, laboratory analysis, modeling and data interpretation in order to evaluate and lessen the effects that contaminated fish, microbes and toxins, among others. Through this contract, Tetra Tech will be supporting ways to address issues related to water pollution.
In a related development, Henry Lang of Golder Associates based in the U.K. has also written an article for the 111th Issue of European Oil & Gas Magazine 2014 on how firms involved in the extraction of shale gas can conduct hydraulic fracturing, popularly known as fracking, in a responsible manner. Lang gave an in-depth examination of the matter and wrote that the best practices must involve thorough scrutiny of the reservoirs and comprehensive water management.