Six thousand oil wells are located within a 160 km radius of Estevan. Most wells are owned and serviced by companies located in Estevan. Oil and gas exploration and production have a great impact on the local economy. The oil and gas industry is Saskatchewan`s largest revenue source. Many people in Estevan are employed in the coal, oil, gas, and power industries.
The Bakken formation has been known for more than 50 years. Until recently, however, technology was not suitable to make this massive deposit suitable for development. The Bakken play is a geological formation of siltstone and sandstone located about 300 metres below the Mississippian formation. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has estimated technologically recoverable oil reserves are as much as twenty five times that of 1995 estimates. It is estimated that between the Canadian and American portions of this formation, this deposit could be home to over 6 billion barrels of oil, which is more than the known deposits of Saudi Arabia. These same reports suggest about 4 million barrels of light oil per square mile. The wells of the Bakken formation tend to be highly productive, producing in excess of 200 barrels per day (bpd). One of the greatest benefits of this deposit is not its massive size, but the quality of oil found. The Bakken formation is home to sweet, light crude oil with 41 degree gravity.
Technological innovation has led to a major increase in production in the Bakken region of southeast Saskatchewan. There are over 2,350 producing Bakken oil wells. Wells are primarily horizontal, with a multi-stage frac completion. By the end of 2010, production throughout the Bakken had climbed to 458,000 barrels per day, 70,000 on the Saskatchewan side alone. In 2011, the Bakken produced nearly 22.2 million barrels of oil. In the same year, 2,500 new wells were completed and 4,650 more were expected to be drilled throughout the province in 2012, one-third of all those drilled in Western Canada. Two companies, Crescent Point Energy Corp. and PetroBakken Energy Ltd., holds the majority of Bakken production in the province. The remainder is split between the small players.
Boundary Dam Power Station is a coal-fired station located in the RM of Estevan. It consists of six (6) units with a combined generating capacity of 813 net MW. The first two 62 net MW units were commissioned in 1959, with two more 139 net MW units added in 1970, a 139 net MW unit in 1973 and a final unit (273 net MW) added in 1978. In July 2003, a long term project to reduce air particulate emissions by installing electrostatic precipitators on all units was completed.
The new Aquistore project from the Petroleum Technology Research Council (PTRC) is taking place 2km away from the Boundary Dam Power Station. Aquistore is an independent research and monitoring project to demonstrate that storing carbon dioxide more than 3 km deep underground is a safe, workable solution to reduce greenhouse gases. The Aquistore project is being done in conjunction with construction of the carbon capture facility currently underway at Boundary Dam Power Station’s Unit 3. Once it becomes active in early 2014, the captured carbon will be sent via a pipeline a few kilometres west of the power station and into a layer of sandstone.
A new fly ash load out and storage facility was opened at the power station by SaskPower 2012. Construction of the Boundary Dam facility tripled the fly ash storage capacity to 5,000 tonnes. SaskPower wanted to find a company that could help maximize fly ash sales, given the increased storage capacity and the steady demand for the high quality of fly ash. All this was unique to Boundary Dam. Boundary Dam has also been selected as the site for a $1.4 Billion clean coal expansion. This expansion would convert the power station to a near zero emission plant, creating a resource (carbon) that can be used for enhanced oil recovery through carbon sequestration.
Shand Power Station
Shand Power Station is another coal-fired station in the RM of Estevan. Shand, commissioned in 1992 consists of one unit, generating 279 net MW. Shand Power Station is considered the cleanest and most efficient coal-fired power generating plant in Canada and in 1993, received a Power Plant Award from Power Magazine in recognition of its advanced environmental design. This design includes the LIFAC (Limestone Injection into the Furnace and reActivation of Calcium) system, which uses powdered limestone and water to remove SO2 emissions, and a closed-loop, zero-discharge water management system that ensures the water used in the plant will not be discharged into the environment, except through evaporation. The system also ensures finely tuned burner temperature and air quantity to hreduce nitrogen oxide formations by up to 50%. The plant also features a high-efficiency electrostatic precipitator that collects up to 99% of the fly-ash before it leaves the station’s stack. In addition to preparing for a new carbon capture test facility at Shand Power Station, which is planned to get underway later this year, the work at Shand includes a complete re-build of critical portions of the turbine generator, allowing the turbine to operate for almost another decade without another major upgrade.
Hitachi Ltd. agreed to collaborate with Saskatchewan Power Corporation to jointly construct a Carbon Capture Test Facility in march 2012. The test facility will be a part of SaskPower's larger "Clean Coal Project", which is a comprehensive initiative to select and apply emerging carbon capture technologies to coal fired power plants to manage their emission of greenhouse gases. In this project equipment to capture CO2 will be installed at SaskPower's Shand Power Station. SaskPower and Hitachi will jointly invest 5 billion yen to cover the cost of the project. Operations of the CCTF will begin mid 2014.