Webinar - In-Situ Oil Sands Practices for Working in and Around Wetlands


Wetlands are a critical and valued component of boreal landscapes in northeastern Alberta. They also comprise a significant proportion of operational tenures within the in-situ oil sands region. The COSIA Land Environmental Priority Area initiated this project to create an inventory of shared practices, improve knowledge sharing, clarify knowledge gaps, and identify opportunities for innovation. The result was a wetland shared practices toolbox which summarized several common and uncommon practices into field-ready factsheets. These factsheets provide an easy and effective tool for sharing information within and between companies. Common practices included pre-planning efforts to understand wetland characteristics, use of culverts, and use of geosynthetics to improve bearing capacity. Uncommon practices included the use of corduroy in road and pad construction, use of rock drains to improve drainage, and use of piles to support culverts during road or pad settlement. Providing pads and roads time for consolidation during construction was a practice that has increased in use due to it providing improved effectiveness and reliability. A series of core opportunities to improve practices were also highlighted through this work. These included: * Training of staff to identify different wetland types and enhance use of existing digital products that identify wetland types. * Adopting a staged approach to constructing pads and roads where possible to enable peat consolidation and encourage strengthening of the peat foundation. * Considering the frequency of drainage structures, such as culverts, along roads. * Developing an operational field guide for operating in and around wetlands. * Continuing to identify opportunities to minimize footprint and/or improve the resilience of footprints that are placed on wetlands. The project recommendations will be used to inform future studies on reducing in situ oil sands impacts within wetlands. Ultimately, this project is one step in the process of broadening the application of best practices for working in and around wetlands within the sector.