Devon Energy Corp. is on pace to complete scheduled maintenance at one of its sites in Canada's oil sands next week ahead of schedule.
Crews have spent about 80,000 man-hours so far on the project, which includes replacing convection boxes on the steam generators that drive Devon's production of thick oil called bitumen in northern Alberta.
Kelly Hansen said Devon originally intended to complete the shutdown by Friday, but crews on are pace to finish a few days early.
“We should be putting steam in the ground early next week,” he said.
Hansen said conventional wisdom in Canada's oil patch is that such shutdowns are needed about once a year for regulatory work, inspections and cleaning, but Devon has been able to extend that interval with its risk-based inspection protocols.
He said Devon's Jackfish facilities shut down every two or three years.
Devon, which has what CEO John Richels calls a “portfolio of world-class thermal oil projects,” has been producing oil in Alberta since 2007.
Devon has operations at two Jackfish sites, with a third on the way. Jackfish produced an average of 53,000 barrels of oil a day during the second quarter.
Richels said in the company's Aug. 7 earnings call that Devon is on track to increase production from its oil sands leases to at least 150,000 barrels a day by the end of the decade.
The current shutdown at Jackfish II is the first since it began operations in May 2011.
Hanson said workers installed new convection boxes, a better design available from a Tulsa-based manufacturer, after the plant went offline Aug. 16.
Officials have described the oil sands operations as massive water treatment plant, turning brackish water from nearby sand formations into steam that is pumped underground to soften the thick oil.
Hanson said it will take about a month to get back to full production at Jackfish II once the shutdown is completed, based on past experience.
He said at the peak of the maintenance operation, Devon had 655 workers on site.
The project likely will exceed 90,000 man hours by the time it is completed, but Hanson said there have not been any safety incidents so far.