Hangingstone SAGD Demonstration

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Project Details

Construction Type:

Steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility

Project Type:

Environmental and engineering services

KCB provided environmental and engineering services to JACOS for their Hangingstone steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility.Work conducted included:

  • Development, updating and submission of groundwater monitoring plans (GMPs) and soil monitoring plans (SMPs) to meet regulatory permit requirements;
  • Ongoing monitoring of groundwater, surface water and soils around the site, and preparation of annual monitoring reports for regulatory submission;
  • Aquifer testing and sampling of deep monitoring wells;
  • Water-use license reporting;
  • Geotechnical Investigations and recommendations for foundation design;
  • Hydrocarbon exceedance assessments; and
  • Pond liner assessments.
  “Great stuff, appreciate the quick turnaround. I have nothing but positive feedback! The project manager is a great communicator, seems to do a great job and made sure that all safety and environment procedures were followed.”


    • Establishing origin of water in interstitial space of a process pond liner and secondary containment layer
    • Increasing numbers of groundwater samples and detailed analyses required for compliance monitoring resulting in increasing costs of laboratory analysis and reporting effort
    • Hydrocarbon exceedances of regulatory criteria in areas considered unimpacted


  • KCB developed a hydrogeological investigation plan to assess origin of recurring water presence in interstitial space. Work involved installation of monitoring wells, assessing local groundwater gradients and chemistry, and analysing data to determine if initial water was from natural sources or from pond liner leakage.
  • KCB proposed, and gained regulatory acceptance for, the use of an indicator parameter approach for surface and groundwater compliance monitoring. Sampling, analysis and reporting reduced to eight primary indicator parameters, selected based on their relationship with potential contaminants of concern related to the SAGD facility operations.
  • Chromatogram comparison used by KCB to show hydrocarbon exceedances in a peat unit were due to biogenetic processes rather than facility operations.


  • Results indicated the water found in interstitial space was a combination of natural groundwater mixing with surface runoff that was entering the system through poor seals between liner layers around the periphery of the pond. Primary liner was concluded to be intact and functioning as per design.
  • Achieved regulatory acceptance of an alternate and less intensive monitoring and reporting program. Reduced costs associated with sampling, data analysis, and reporting, while still maintaining effective compliance monitoring for potential facility related impacts.
  • KCB played key role in assisting client in providing the regulator with a scientific basis for hydrocarbon exceedances and maintaining compliance.