SAGD Oil sands projects face environments of evolving technology, constant change, and significant regulatory oversight. These challenges drive the need for increased efficiencies in managing deliverables, processes, and stakeholder communications.
While project management practices have advanced significantly, oil sands projects continue to face industry challenges in information management that impact everything from drilling, water management, and public concerns, to reporting with regulators.
Similar to other mega-projects, oil sands projects are best executed when information is readily available, accurate reports are frequently distributed, and stakeholders are well informed.
Typically, project managers focus on monitoring and controlling the triple constraints of cost, schedule, and scope. However, for oil sands projects, in a state of implementing evolving technologies, focusing on these three areas alone is insufficient to control project risk. Project managers must be prepared to develop a project information management strategy that addresses the evolving technology, as well as internal and external forces that are consistently changing.
In his paper “Effective Project Management of Oil & Gas Projects: A Model for Oil Sands’ SAGD Plants,” Industry researcher, Alnoor Halari, identifies that the level of change in the execution of oil sands SAGD projects is the main factor that makes it insufficient to focus on only the traditional triple constraints of cost, schedule, and quality.
Halari proposes that three additional factors must be considered in developing a fit-for-purpose project information management strategy for an oil sands SAGD project:
- Management and control of engineering deliverables
- Project management processes refined from large capital project experience
- Transparent communication with contractors
Incorporating these three factors into the project information management strategy will benefit Owners through strong risk mitigation and increased control.
To address these additional factors in an unconventional oil & gas project, five project information management lessons learned should be considered:
- Using evolving technologies increases the need for a strong project information management plan. This plan allows participants to capture lessons learned – an essential step to implementing effective change and risk management practices.
- External stakeholder management of public and regulatory sensitivities, such as water table compromise and drilling activity reporting, increases the pressure for consistent and accurate external stakeholder communication. The ability to effectively communicate meeting of compliance and regulatory requirements will impact market credibility, and external opinion on sustainability issues and environmental concerns.
- Internal stakeholder management and engagement is required to maintain alignment on projects. Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), risk management, supply chain and logistics groups are continually challenged in the face of evolving technologies and significant project change. HSE reporting is almost entirely manual and conflicting source data can result in inconsistent project messaging. This inconsistency can result in a significant lack of confidence that the project will be able to meet internal governance requirements around HSE.
- Asset management facilitates efficient maintenance and operations for activities such as drilling and production.
- Vendor data management, where first of a kind engineering is prevalent, is always challenging. The project’s vendor data management strategy must be developed to handle the high volume of change, and avoid the detrimental impact of poorly executed vendor data management on both the project and the long-term cost of ownership in the maintenance and operation of the facility.
Many oil sands SAGD projects use Coreworx Project Information Control (PIC )solutions and are able to support the application of these lessons learned throughout the lifecycle of their projects. In fact, many owners choose Coreworx PIC to address these very issues.The Coreworx solution allows owners to build a project information management foundation at the onset of projects to help them effectively manage the quality of information provided throughout the project and all the way through to handover.
Each of these lessons learned will be discussed in more depth in Part 2 of this blog: