Water Use and Availability
- 27.4 million cubic metres of fresh water withdrawn
- Water source: 26% fresh, 18% saline, 56% third-party waste or produced
- 2% of fresh water withdrawals in areas of high baseline water stress
- Non-saline water use at Lima Refinery declined 51% due to water re-use project
- Comply with regulations and explore innovative opportunities to responsibly reduce, recycle and re-use as much water as is economically feasible.
We manage water use throughout our operations by exploring and implementing innovative opportunities to responsibly reduce, recycle and re-use as much water as is economically feasible. Our water management approach is detailed in annual submissions to the CDP Water Security Program, including metrics for water intensity, discharge and recycle. In 2019 we received a grade of B, an improvement from B- the year before. This reflects our progress on water security through water accounting, governance and stewardship activities.
Our water-related initiatives include:
- Identifying, assessing and managing water risks at a local level
- Monitoring surface water and groundwater, ensuring impacts from operations are negligible or mitigated
- Recycling produced water
- Protecting groundwater using established well casing and cementing practices
- Measuring and publicly disclosing water use
- Ensuring acceptable domestic water quality standards for employees at remote facilities through our Water Supply Integrity Program
- Contributing to joint industry water management initiatives and water research
- Participating in multi-operator agreements and water sharing
- Participating in watershed planning and advisory councils
Identifying and Managing Water Source Risks
The withdrawal of fresh water is regulated and licensed in the areas where we operate, to ensure surface water and groundwater supplies are not affected negatively. In considering a water source for our operations, we evaluate risks, including reliability of supply, technical feasibility, net environmental effect, economics, and regulatory and stakeholder concerns. Mitigation plans are developed and implemented to manage the risk.
We monitor surface water and groundwater to ensure operations are not negatively impacting the environment. To better understand hydrogeological systems in the northern Alberta oil sands region we participate in the COSIA Monitoring Working Group, a joint industry initiative working on technical issues related to the design, implementation and ongoing refinement of the Oil Sands Monitoring Program, and the COSIA Aquifer Working Group.
Enhancing Water Management
We recycle produced water at the Sunrise Energy Project and the Tucker Thermal Project. At Sunrise we use process-affected water from a neighbour’s tailings ponds as a water source, a mutually beneficial agreement that reduces our demand for groundwater. At Tucker we source highly saline groundwater as an alternative to shallow groundwater or surface water. Both strategies support UN SDG 6.5: implement integrated water resource management.
Husky is a member of the COSIA Water Technology Development Centre, a field-scale laboratory which is testing new water treatment and recycling technologies for oil sands development, and participates in the COSIA Water Committee.
Through PTAC’s Water Innovation Planning Committee, we participate in joint industry projects related to water management for hydraulic fracturing, part of the Alberta Upstream Petroleum Research Fund.
Water metrics are tracked across all business units using our Environmental Performance Reporting System. By participating in national and international water reporting programs we help drive better measurement and transparency of water use and issues across the industry.
We withdraw water for industrial use from saline and non-saline sources, including non-saline industrial wastewater. We report volumes for facilities we operate, for the time operated within the report year. Overall, non- saline water withdrawal in 2019 decreased compared to the previous year, a result of using less water at the Lima Refinery, where a water reuse system was implemented.
Our fresh water withdrawals have been assessed on the World Resources Institute (WRI) Aqueduct Baseline Water Stress map, which measures the ratio of total water withdrawals to available renewable surface and groundwater supplies. Two percent (or about 0.5 million cubic metres) of Husky’s fresh water withdrawals for industrial use in 2019 occurred in areas of high baseline water stress, where water supplies may be limited. More than 97% of our fresh water withdrawals for industrial use occur in areas with low to low-medium baseline water stress, where water availability is good. This includes all Saskatchewan thermal facilities, Sunrise, Tucker, the Lloydminster Upgrader and Asphalt Refinery, the Lima Refinery and operations at Rainbow Lake.
Water Use in our Operations
Thermal Projects in Alberta
Water volumes at Sunrise and Tucker are reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator and included in its Water Use Performance Report.
At Sunrise, produced water is recycled for steam generation, supplemented with two water sources that are considered alternatives to fresh water by the Alberta Energy Regulator: process-affected water from a neighbour’s tailings ponds and basal McMurray groundwater which is in contact with bitumen.
In 2019 recycled produced water provided 80% (7.7 million cubic metres) of the total water used for steam generation. The remaining 20% was from the basal McMurray groundwater and process-affected water sources.
At Tucker we use low-quality saline groundwater as a makeup water source, with a total dissolved solid concentration of about 19,000 mg/L. This is about 40 times more saline than water considered acceptable for household use.
In 2019 recycled produced water accounted for 85% (4.9 million cubic metres) of the water used to generate steam, up from 82% in 2018. The remaining 15% (0.9 million cubic metres) was from saline groundwater.
Thermal Projects in Saskatchewan
Our Lloyd thermal projects rely on an available supply of water from the North Saskatchewan River to produce steam for operations.
Water licences for our thermal projects represent approximately 0.3% of the North Saskatchewan River annual average flow. Water withdrawals under these licences were higher in 2019 at 17.2 million cubic metres, compared to 15.9 million cubic metres in 2018. This was due to the startup of the Dee Valley thermal project and the first full year of production at the Rush Lake 2 facility, both of which partially offset the decrease in water demand related to shutting in the Pikes Peak plant in 2019. As a result, the overall water intensity for Lloyd thermal projects was comparable year-over-year.
Our detailed water sourcing risk assessment for this area, conducted in 2017, drew on technical expertise from hydrologists, geomorphologists, engineers, hydrogeologists and geochemists to better define water sourcing risks. The water availability was determined to be more than sufficient to meet our current and future needs, through all seasons, while not affecting other users. This is consistent with the Aqueduct Baseline Water Stress ratio of low for this portion of the North Saskatchewan River watershed. Water management plans for our Lloyd thermal projects are updated considering new water demands and water availability risks.
Potential sources of water for new thermal projects are assessed to ensure we select the most appropriate for each, considering a balance of factors. We are advancing technologies to improve our water efficiency at current and future projects.
In Western Canada our resource plays include the Spirit River formation in the Ansell and Kakwa areas and the Montney formation in the Karr and Wembley areas. These are being developed with hydraulic fracturing technology.
Water management plans for each area identify and mitigate water risks over the long term, promoting responsible water stewardship by evaluating re-use opportunities, source alternatives and wastewater disposal solutions. Water risks are characterized in the context of reliability, technical feasibility, net environmental effects, regulatory and stakeholder interests and economics. We also assess water management components, including transportation, storage and treatment.
The amount of water required for each resource play depends on the reservoir characteristics, as well as the amount and quality of water produced from the reservoir and the timing of operations. We evaluate water re-use opportunities using these factors and implement them where possible. In 2019 we recycled water at three of 23 wells that were hydraulically fractured.
All flowback and produced water resulting from our hydraulic fracturing operations is either re-used in those operations or discharged to deep well disposal. None of the flowback or produced water is discharged to land or surface water. We publicly disclosed fracturing chemicals for all wells hydraulically fractured in 2019 on FracFocus.
Husky recognizes concerns regarding groundwater quality close to hydraulic fracturing and we have proactively implemented an industry-recommended practice for completing baseline quality and quantity tests for domestic groundwater wells located in proximity to our hydraulic fracturing operations.
At our Wainwright waterflood project we recycle all produced water, reinjecting it into the formation. We use saline groundwater and produced water from other operations in the area as makeup water, reducing non- saline groundwater withdrawals.
We report water withdrawals for the Upgrader, refineries and ethanol plants that we operate. Non-saline water withdrawal for refining decreased by more than 50% in 2019 compared with 2018, a reduction from 8.0 million cubic metres in 2018. This significant reduction was largely due to the implementation of a water re-use system at the Lima Refinery. As a result, the intensity of water withdrawn for refining also decreased in 2019.
At our operations in the Atlantic region we withdrew 18.2 million cubic metres of seawater for oil production in 2019, offset by 16.5 million cubic metres of cooling water discharged back, with 1.8 million cubic metres used for injection to support production. Seawater withdrawn for marine operations, such as ship engine cooling, is excluded.