Case Studies


Wyoming, USA
Aquifer Testing, In-Situ Recovery Uranium Operation
Wyoming, USA

Southern Colorado, USA
Environmental Compliance
Southern Colorado, USA

New Mexico, USA
Hard Rock Mine
New Mexico, USA

Athabasca, Alberta, Canada
Oil Sands and Fish Habitats
Athabasca, Alberta, Canada

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Oil Sands Mine
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Oil Sands Resource Assessment
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Northern Alberta, Canada
SAGD Resource, Water Supply and Geotechnical Data Collection
Northern Alberta, Canada

Aquifer Testing, In-Situ Recovery Uranium Operation
Wyoming, USA

Situation:

Norwest was contracted by Cameco Resources (CR), an in-situ recovery uranium producer in Wyoming to implement a multi-well aquifer test. The purpose of the test was threefold: 1) to demonstrate hydraulic continuity throughout the mine unit; 2) to determine the aquifer parameters: transmissivity, hydraulic conductivity and storativity; and 3) to collect step-drawdown data to allow for proper design of well field production pumps.
 

Solution:

Norwest installed and documented direct-read data logging pressure transducers in 66 observation wells and one pumping well. A 72-hour pumping test was conducted in order to achieve the projected drawdown requirements at the maximum observation well distance. Norwest utilized a mobile field command center with wireless connection for data upload to a remote server.
 

Result:

Norwest conducted all work exceeding CR and OSHA HSE requirements. Data collection allowed for real-time test management. Norwest was able to conduct the appropriate testing, compile and analyze the data, and prepare the final report for submittal to regulators to allow for an extension of the mining permit to a new mine unit.

Environmental Compliance
Southern Colorado, USA

Situation:

Norwest was contracted by Evergreen Resources Inc. in 1998 to provide high quality, third party environmental compliance support to ensure compliance with a multitude of environmental regulations allowing operations to continue uninterrupted at Evergreen’s coal bed methane well field in the Central Raton Basin (CRB) in Southern Colorado.
 

Solution:

Norwest developed and implemented an inspection and testing program for production and domestic wells, drilling and production pits, storm water controls, and reclamation work that complies with requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Bureau of Land Management, and the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Norwest responded to landowner complaints and spill events and documented the situation, collected water and soil samples in accordance with COGCC and CDPHE requirements, and advised our Client on appropriate responses. Norwest prepared Discharge Monitoring Reports in compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits for the site and developed and implemented a stream monitoring program including continuous recording gauging stations to monitor for changes in the stream system.
 

Result:

Pioneer Natural Resources acquired Evergreen in 2004 and Norwest continued to provide environmental compliance services in the CRB. The ongoing environmental compliance work for Pioneer’s operations in the CRB is supported by a six person field office which allows Norwest to react in a timely manner to client or agency needs.

Hard Rock Mine
New Mexico, USA

Situation:

Norwest monitors the geotechnical stability of large mine waste rock piles at a hard rock mine in New Mexico. The rock piles were end dumped at angle of repose over the last 50 years and remain in their original geometry. Concerns by the corporation, State, and other stakeholders necessitated a rock pile monitoring system.
 

Solution:

Norwest developed an operational geotechnical monitoring program, which includes rock pile inspections and instrumentation monitoring. Monthly inspections are performed by site personnel, and semi-annual inspections by Norwest’s geotechnical engineers. Norwest routinely monitors the 32 slope inclinometers and 103 vibrating wire piezometers installed in 57 boreholes. 
 

Result:

Norwest processes and interprets the data and summarizes the findings in annual reports. The reports are submitted to all the stakeholders: EPA, State of New Mexico, and their consultants, and the corporation. Thru the data, Norwest has demonstrated that the rock piles are stable allowing final reclamation planning to occur at a reasonable, not expedited, pace.

 

Oil Sands and Fish Habitats
Athabasca, Alberta, Canada

Situation:

Compensating for lost fish habitat was an essential requirement in the authorization for a major new oil sand mine development in the Athabasca region of Alberta. A key requirement of the lake was to maintain fish passage from a downstream river through the lake to upstream creeks for a minimum of 100 days per year. The lake also had to accommodate various types of fish habitats and species that are native to the connected river and creeks. Norwest was contracted by our client, the mine developer, to design and construct the lake to meet these criteria.
 

Solution:

A dynamic multidisciplinary team consisting of civil and mining engineers, hydrologists, geotechnical engineers, fisheries biologists, hydrogeologists and our client’s environmental group was assembled for the design process. The lake was designed to meet the requirements of multiple provincial and federal regulatory agencies. A customized solution was developed to meet the local stakeholder and client requirements.
 

Result:

Construction of the 47 hectare lake and site reclamation activities was completed between August, 2009 and May 2010. An as-built versus design audit showed the lake met the intent of the design in terms of the numbers of fish habitat units (HU) created. The data showed that the lake was suitable for 20 species of fish, and the deviation from the designed HU’s was 0.3%. At Norwest we consider ourselves fortunate to have been part of this exciting environmentally sustainable solution to the development of Alberta’s oil sands.

Oil Sands Mine
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

After supplying pit wall and waste dump designs to an oil sands mine, Norwest was contracted to carry out geotechnical instrumentation installation and monitoring on the site. Slope inclinometers, vibrating wire piezometers, and stand pipe piezometers were installed throughout the pit wall and waste dumps to monitor movement and piezometric fluctuations. Norwest field staff continued monitoring these instruments to build up a history of performance at the mine.

 
As the designer, Norwest had the most intimate knowledge of the structures and was able to use field data to verify and optimize the operational performance of the mine structures. Because Norwest had direct control of data acquisition and was able to tailor the data collection to coincide with mining conditions, invaluable data could be gathered from unique situations and the learnings passed directly onto the client.

Oil Sands Resource Assessment
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Situation:

A junior Canadian oil and gas exploration company acquired several oil sands leases north of Fort McMurray. Within 12 months they wanted to conduct a core drilling program, develop a sub-surface geological model of the area, and produce resource estimates of their leases. Norwest was retained to manage and execute all aspects the program.
 

Solution:

The program was conducted in three phases; planning and permitting, project execution, and reporting. During the planning and permitting phase of the project, the Norwest team developed a 200 core hole exploration plan on the leases that would satisfy the lease obligations and resource reporting requirements. All of the required exploration and environmental permits and agreements were acquired. Norwest’s tendering process was used to select and contract all key service providers including on-site safety services, surveyors, drilling rigs, geophysical logging, camp construction, and road building contractors. Norwest’s cost control system was customized to meet the client’s specific accounting system requirements.
 
Norwest executed the program within the three month winter drilling season with no lost time incidents. The program involved a core hole survey, installation of a 160 man camp, construction of approximately 300 km of winter road, and the drilling of 200 core holes. All of the desired core holes were completed with over 95 percent core recovery and transported to a lab in Calgary. At the lab, all cores were described by Norwest geologists and subsequently photographed and analyzed.
 
During the reporting phase, a detailed geological model was completed based on the core hole data. Norwest issued four reports documenting safety and environmental compliance, operations, an internal geological report, and a 51-101 compliant report intended for public disclosure of our independent resource estimate of the deposit.
 

Result:

As a result of the cost effective execution of the field program, in a safe and environmentally compliant manner, the client retained the services of Norwest to manage their drilling activities in other lease areas. The reports generated by Norwest assisted the client in securing additional financing to further develop their lease holdings and acquire additional lands.

SAGD Resource, Water Supply and Geotechnical Data Collection
Northern Alberta, Canada

Situation:

An international resource development company acquired an oil sands lease in the Athabasca region of Alberta. The resource was an in-situ development target that had yet to be sufficiently defined to proceed with a development permit or detailed SAGD design work. A potential process water aquifer had been identified but not adequately assessed for suitability as an operational water source. Additional geotechnical investigations were required in the proposed plant-site area.
 

Solution:

Norwest, acting as prime contractor, was responsible for all aspects of project planning, execution and management. We built a multidisciplinary project team consisting of resource coring, geotechnical engineering and hydrogeological specialists and designed an execution plan to meet the program requirements. This approach allowed each group to work seamlessly with and in support of one another facilitating operational efficiencies. Norwest typically utilizes this multidisciplinary approach to meet our clients’ needs.
 

Result:

Norwest planned and executed the project safely, on time and within 3% of the approved budget. The geological data was compiled, analyzed and used to create detailed geological and reservoir simulation models. Hydrogeological data showed that the aquifer is a potential process water source for the proposed production operations. These results allowed our client to proceed with further planning and permitting of their proposed SAGD in-situ and surface facilities. Norwest continues to support this client by providing geological, reservoir engineering, hydrogeological and geotechnical services in support of the project’s ongoing development work.