We are committed to responsible water stewardship throughout our operations. Our water management approach and metrics are detailed in annual submissions to the CDP Water Security Program. In 2017 we received a B grade, which exceeds the sector average and is based on our disclosure of: Context, Risk Assessment, Governance and Strategy, Direct Risks and Response, and Indirect Risks and Response.
We undertake a number of water-related initiatives, many endorsed in our Corporate Water Standard:
- Identifying, assessing and managing water risks at a local level.
- Monitoring surface and groundwater, ensuring impacts from operations are negligible or mitigated.
- Protecting groundwater using established well casing and cementing practices.
- Measuring and publicly disclosing water use.
- Participating in multi-operator agreements and water sharing.
- Recycling produced water.
- Ensuring acceptable domestic water quality standards for employees at remote facilities through our Water Supply Integrity Program.
- Collaboration of internal experts on solving water challenges.
- Contributing to joint industry water management initiatives and water research.
- Participating in watershed planning and advisory councils.
Identifying and Managing Water Source Risks
In considering a water source for our operations, Husky evaluates risks, including reliability, technical feasibility, net environmental effect, economics, and regulatory and stakeholder concerns. Where risks are identified, mitigation plans are developed.
We conduct surface and groundwater monitoring to ensure operations do not negatively impact the environment. 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 Devonian Aquifer Working Group, to better understand this hydrogeological system in the oil sands region.
Enhancing Water Management
Our Water Management Critical Competency Network brings together water expertise from across the company and recommends technologies or strategies that could be used in operations. This approach makes sure our water risks are identified, managed and addressed, while opportunities are fully explored.
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. This water-sharing agreement is mutually beneficial and a first for industry. At Tucker we source water from groundwater that is 40 times more saline than typically used domestically.
Husky is a partner in the COSIA Water Technology Development Centre, a lab which will test and advance new water treatment and recycling technologies for oil sands development.
We track water metrics across all business units using our Environmental Performance Reporting System. By participating in national and international programs we help drive better measurement and transparency of water use and issues across the industry.
Husky withdraws water for industrial use, drawing on saline and non-saline sources, including non-saline industrial wastewater. We report volumes for facilities we operate, for the time operated within the reporting year.
Overall, non-saline water withdrawal increased in 2017, due in part to the Edam East, Edam West and Vawn Lloyd thermal projects ramping up to full production, and an increase in throughput at the Lima Refinery.
Water Use in Our Operations
Thermal Projects in Alberta
Water volumes at the Sunrise Energy Project and the Tucker Thermal Project are reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator and included in its Thermal In-Situ and Water Use reports.
At Sunrise, produced water is recycled for steam generation, supplemented with water from two sources: process-affected water from a neighbour’s tailings ponds, and basal McMurray groundwater that is in contact with bitumen which would have been extracted as part of dewatering and mining at a neighbouring operation.
In 2017 recycled produced water provided 82 percent (8.9 million m3) of the total water used for steam generation, an increase from 69 percent in 2016. The remaining 18 percent 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 greater than the concentration in shallow groundwater sources for domestic use.
In 2017 recycled produced water was 83 percent (3.9 million m3) of the water used to generate steam. The remaining 17 percent (0.8 million m3) was from saline groundwater.
Thermal Projects in Saskatchewan
Lloyd thermal projects rely on an available supply of water from the North Saskatchewan River to produce steam for operations.
The North Saskatchewan River is considered to have high availability in Saskatchewan, and water licences for our thermal projects represent approximately 0.3 percent of the annual average flow. With the Edam East, Edam West and Vawn projects ramping up to capacity in their first year of operation, water withdrawals under these licences increased from 14.3 million cubic metres (m3) in 2016 to 16.2 million m3 in 2017. However, the overall water intensity for Lloyd thermal projects remained steady.
Our water management plans for these projects are continually updated and we incorporate long-term flow forecasting from the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency. In 2017 Husky undertook a detailed risk assessment for this area drawing 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 Husky‘s current and future needs, through all seasons, while not affecting other users.
Water source options for new thermal projects are assessed to ensure we select the most appropriate source for each, considering a balance of factors including source reliability, technical feasibility, net environmental effects, regulatory and stakeholder aspects and economics. We continue to advance technologies to improve water efficiency at current and future projects.
In Western Canada our resource plays are developed through hydraulic fracturing technology, and we operate conventional oil assets and the Rainbow Lake gas processing plant.
The amount of water required for resource plays depends on the reservoir characteristics, as well as the amount and quality of water produced from the reservoir and the timing of operations. Water reuse opportunities are evaluated based on these factors and implemented where possible. In 2017 Husky recycled water at three wells that were hydraulically fractured.
We are developing water management plans for our resource plays, taking a lifecycle approach to promote water security. The plans identify water reuse opportunities, centralized water hubs and optimal timing of operations to reduce the overall environmental footprint.
We recycle all produced water at our Wainwright waterflood project, re-injecting it into the formation. We use produced water from other operations in the area as makeup water, reducing the amount of non-saline groundwater withdrawals. In 2017 a saline groundwater source was used to further reduce the need for non-saline groundwater.
Husky reports water withdrawals for the refineries, ethanol plants, and upgrader that we operate.
Non-saline water withdrawal for refining increased from 6.6 million m3 in 2016 to 8.5 million m3 in 2017, largely due to a proportionate increase in operations at the Lima Refinery. In November 2017 we acquired the Superior Refinery, which contributed to an increase in the Company’s total withdrawals. Overall, the intensity of water use for refining remained approximately the same as 2016.
The approximately 8.5 million m3 of non-saline water withdrawn for our refineries was offset by the 4.4 million m3 returned to the surface hydrologic cycle after being treated in multiple stages, including separating oil from the water and applying biological treatments. This water is tested before being discharged to promote regulatory compliance.
The crude oil flexibility project underway at the Lima Refinery to increase heavy oil processing capacity includes a water recycling component, which will reduce freshwater withdrawal once operational.
Husky operates projects in the Atlantic region, offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2017 14.3 million m3 of seawater was withdrawn for oil production, offset by 8.8 million m3 of cooling water discharged back, with 5.5 million m3 used for injection to support production. Seawater withdrawn for marine operations, such as ship engine cooling, is excluded.