ARCHIVED - Part 2 Production, gathering and processing systems

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Part 2

Production, gathering and
processing systems

2.1 Where will the gas
come from?

The Niglintgak and Taglu natural gas fields are located in the Mackenzie Delta. The Parsons Lake field is on the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula. The natural gas would be shipped through gathering pipelines to the Inuvik Area Facility for processing. This facility would separate natural gas liquids from the gas that goes into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline.

Figure 2-1 Figure 2-1 Map of the producing fieldsMap of the producing fields

The gas fields

Three separate natural gas fields would provide the initial natural gas supply for the Mackenzie Gas Project. The Niglintgak and Taglu fields are in the Mackenzie Delta near the Beaufort Sea. Parsons Lake is just east of the Delta on the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula. Facilities in the fields would remove water from the raw natural gas. Chilled gas would be shipped through the gathering system to the Inuvik Area Facility for processing. The gathering system and gas processing facility near Inuvik would be owned by a joint venture of the producing companies, with Imperial operating the facility.

Figure 2-2 Niglintgak production facilities

Figure 2-2 Niglintgak production facilities
Shell Canada’s Niglintgak field is about 120 kilometres northwest of Inuvik. Here Shell plans to build:
  • 6 to 12 production wells located on three pads;
  • a system of above-ground flow lines;
  • a gas conditioning facility in the Little Kumak Channel;
  • a disposal well;
  • an emergency shelter; and
  • helipads.

Figure 2-3 Taglu production facilities

Figure 2-3 Taglu production facilities

The Taglu field, to be developed by Imperial Oil Resources Limited, is about 15 kilometres east of the Niglintgak field. Here Imperial plans to build:

  • 10 to 15 production wells drilled from a single well pad;
  • one or two disposal wells;
  • a gas conditioning facility;
  • a barge landing site;
  • an airstrip;
  • a helipad;
  • several buildings; and
  • a water treatment system.

Figure 2-4 Parsons Lake production facilities

Figure 2-4 Parsons Lake production facilities
The Parsons Lake field, about 70 kilometres north of Inuvik and 55 kilometres southwest of Tuktoyaktuk, would be developed by ConocoPhillips Canada (North) Limited and ExxonMobil Canada Properties. ConocoPhillips is the operator of the field. They plan to build:
  • a north pad with nine to 19 production wells;
  • a south pad with three to seven production wells;
  • disposal wells;
  • flow lines;
  • a gas conditioning facility; and
  • related facilities including an all-weather airstrip.

Figure 2-5 Map of the gathering and processing system showing permafrost distribution

Figure 2-5 Map of the producing fields
Gathering system and gas processing facility

The gathering system would include four sections of buried pipeline:

  • Niglintgak to Taglu—14.7 kilometres of 400 millimetre (16 inch) diameter pipeline in a 30 metre right of way;
  • Taglu to Storm Hills—80.9 kilometres of 650 millimetre (26 inch) diameter pipeline in a 40 metre right of way;
  • Parsons Lake to Storm Hills—26.4 kilometres of 450 millimetre (18 inch) diameter pipeline in a 30 metre right of way; and
  • Storm Hills to Inuvik Area Facility—67.2 kilometres of 800 millimetre (32 inch) diameter pipeline in a 40 metre right of way.
At Storm Hills, about 50 kilometres north of Inuvik, the pipeline from Parsons Lake would join the pipeline from the Niglintgak and Taglu gas fields. The Storm Hills Pigging Facility would have pig receivers and pig launchers for removing and inserting “pigs” into the pipeline. These devices are sent through the pipeline to perform functions such as cleaning the pipeline or inspecting its condition.

Figure 2-6 Inuvik Area Facility

Figure 2-6 Inuvik Area Facility The Inuvik Area Facility would be located about 20 kilometres east of Inuvik.

At the Inuvik Area Facility, the raw natural gas would be separated into marketable natural gas and natural gas liquids. Marketable natural gas is mainly methane, with some ethane and propane. It would be temperature-controlled and compressed before being injected into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. Natural gas liquids, also known as condensate, are mainly pentane and heavier hydrocarbons. They are refined to make products such as gasoline and petrochemicals. They would be temperature-controlled and then pumped into the natural gas liquids pipeline that goes to Norman Wells.


How would communities
be affected by developing
the gas fields?

The project would increase economic activity in the Mackenzie Delta communities, especially during the construction period. At the same time, unwanted effects such as increased traffic and demands on social services would occur.

Communities would experience different effects depending how close they are to the gas fields, the transportation corridor and related facilities. There could be positive impacts such as employment and business activity. There could be negative impacts from demand on medical, police and social services, and the effects of road, air and barge traffic.

The largest community in the Mackenzie Delta region is the town of Inuvik (2009 population 3,586).
Roger Gruben

December 4, 2006  

Tuktoyaktuk is still a very traditional community and still very dependent on the environment and the wildlife resources for our lifestyle. We believe that there could be negative impacts from air traffic around the Parsons Lake area on the animals. This in turn will provide negative impacts on the people of this area, on harvesting. We encourage industry to consult with members of Tuktoyaktuk on addressing and identifying the proper preventative measures for any activity around Parsons Lake and on the wildlife in the area.
Street shotOther communities in the region include Tuktoyaktuk (2009 population 929), Fort McPherson (2009 population 791), Aklavik (2009 population 645) and Tsiigehtchic (2009 population 136). One effect on Inuvik from the project would be increased economic activity during the construction period. This could create training, employment and contracting opportunities. There could also be negative effects such as increased traffic in town and on the haul road to the Inuvik Area Facility. After completion, there could be continuing effects from future development. Operating the project would create relatively few permanent jobs. There would be opportunities in maintenance, monitoring and providing goods and services.

Since the facilities would be 20 kilometres or more from Inuvik, there would be little or no impact from noise and emissions. All emissions would be subject to monitoring and regulation. The companies have submitted plans for safe disposal of solid and liquid wastes such as drilling fluids and cuttings (debris from the drill bit cutting through rock). The National Energy Board and other regulators would make sure the companies follow these plans.


How would Kendall
Island Bird Sanctuary
be affected?

The Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary is a federally protected area. It is a staging and breeding ground for birds. The Niglintgak and Taglu fields are located within it. The companies would have to comply with Environment Canada’s regulations in the sanctuary.

The Niglintgak and Taglu fields are located in the 623-square-kilometre Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary. This federally protected area of low-lying islands serves as a staging and breeding ground for more than 90 species of songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds. The species include the lesser snow geese, the tundra swan and other migratory birds. Environment Canada regulates surface development in the sanctuary. No more than one percent (six square kilometres) is allowed to be disturbed by oil and gas activity.
Terri-Lee Kuptana

December 4, 2006

Terri-Lee Kuptana
Springtime, fall, winter, and summer, we get a lot of our harvesting. In the springtime, it’s the geese, and should the pipeline go through, my worry is that the migration will change and, therefore, we’ll have to go further.

My father’s camp is north of Tuk, and I know the way there and my children are learning the way there. Should the pipeline go through, should anything—operations, whatever, then we have to find a new way, and that just concerns me because that’s been passed down from my parents to me and my family members. And also my nephews that are 11, 13, they know this land. And also, summertime, beluga whale harvest is really important throughout this region. Again, that’s a worry for me. I’m asking the Panel, once you make your decisions, to think of not just the present Inuvialuit generation, but future generations to come that it be closely monitored.
Tundra SwanDevelopment of the two fields would comply with Environment Canada’s land use limits. Timing of construction and other activities in the sanctuary would be important to avoid effects on birds and habitat. Birds are generally present from May to October. At Niglintgak, the proposed construction and drilling programs would occur during winter months. The initial Taglu drilling program would occur uninterrupted for about 16 months, with well completions to follow. Imperial said its development plan is flexible enough to accommodate contingencies that could arise during detailed design, construction and operation of the Taglu field. Before construction and operation, the National Energy Board and other authorities would have to approve wildlife protection and management plans for all three development fields.

Environment Canada and the National Energy Board would both regulate noise levels in the Kendall Island Bird Sanctuary.

Most of the facilities for Niglintgak and Taglu would be built off-site in modules. They would be moved to the field by barge or on winter roads.


How would warming
climate affect the producing
fields and facilities?

Climate change could cause sea levels to rise during the life of the project. If this happens, facilities would be located high enough above sea level to protect them from storm surges and flooding.

Warming of the global and regional climate could raise sea levels and affect weather patterns. The Niglintgak and Taglu fields are located in the low-lying Mackenzie Delta near the Beaufort Sea. We heard concerns that seasonal flooding and storm surges could affect these facilities during the life of the project. The Taglu airstrip could also be subject to flooding, but in that event workers and equipment would be brought to the site by helicopter. The companies provided evidence that the facilities would be high enough to protect them from storm surges and flooding even if sea levels rise.
Lois Little

August 1, 2006

We know from experience of others elsewhere in the northern world that climate change is already having a destabilizing effect on fragile Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems. Add the MGP to this equation, then the wave of hydrocarbon and other industrial development that will follow in its wake, and we can only expect to incur significant upheaval, stresses and uncertainty both in the natural and human environments.

Figure 2-7 Taglu conceptual pad elevation

Figure 2-7 Taglu conceptual pad elevation The Niglintgak and Taglu fields would produce natural gas from relatively shallow underground formations. As the natural gas is removed, the ground could settle by up to almost half a metre due to the removal of natural gas. This possibility was taken into account in the design of the facilities (see Figure 2-7).

Parsons Lake is located on higher ground and further from the sea, so its facilities would be less exposed to possible effects of climate change.


How would public safety be protected?

Pipelines and facilities would be located away from where people live. They would be regulated throughout their lifespan to ensure safety and reliability. Gathering pipelines would be buried 60 to 90 centimetres underground. Three layers of coating would protect the steel pipe from corrosion.

The National Energy Board inspects, audits and monitors pipelines and facilities throughout their lifespan, from construction to abandonment. The goal is to ensure safe, reliable operation and to prevent uncontrolled releases of liquids or gases that could endanger workers or the public. Numerous standards and procedures have been established. These are based on a half century of experience with high-pressure natural gas and liquids pipelines. Pipeline failure rates are very low.
Terese Remy-Sawyer

December 6, 2006
We are in the permafrost. So looking at that, would you promise that—no, I shouldn’t say promise. Would you make sure that the people that are going to make this pipeline or build this pipeline, that they do it safely? From all your research, you should know what safety is, the measure of how safe the pipeline would be.

The high-pressure pipelines and facilities for the project would be located away from communities. The natural gas discovered in the Mackenzie Delta region does not contain poisonous hydrogen sulphide. This reduces the potential risks to workers and surrounding populations from any accidental gas releases. Because natural gas is lighter than air, it disperses rapidly into the atmosphere. However, sparks or static electricity can ignite released gas.

The gathering pipelines would be buried 60 to 90 centimetres underground. Three layers of coating would help protect the steel pipe from corrosion. Pressure-monitoring instruments could detect any large releases of natural gas. Remote-control valves would stop the flow of gas to the affected area in the event of a release. Aircraft would fly the pipeline route regularly to look for disturbance or thawing that might indicate potential problems. Computerized inspection tools, known as smart pigs, would be sent through the pipelines periodically to detect corrosion, dents, bending or buckling.

Building and operating pipelines and facilities on the permafrost of the Mackenzie Delta region poses challenges. Facilities would be supported by pilings or gravel pads so they would not melt the permafrost and sink. Disturbing the surface vegetation could result in permanent scars on the landscape and cause continued thawing of permafrost.

Therefore, much of the surface transportation off the right of way would be on winter roads. If the permafrost thaws, the ground can settle. If ice forms in previously unfrozen ground, frost heave can lift the pipe. Both thaw settlement and frost heave can damage the pipeline. The operating companies would monitor and inspect the pipelines and make repairs or replacements as needed.

In-line inspection tools

In-line inspection tools In-line inspection tools

Special tools known as in-line inspection tools or smart pigs are sent through pipelines to inspect the pipe for damage or corrosion that could lead to leaks. Pictured is a VECTRA MFL (magnetic flux leakage) tool exiting a receiver trap.