Culligan Blog

Preserving Water in the Oil Sands

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With one of the largest crude oil reserves in the world, Alberta, Canada is all too familiar with the oil sands industry, especially since the majority of their crude oil comes from the sands. Also mixed in with those oil sands is something that Culligan is all too familiar with… water. Wait, what are oil sands you're asking? And what do they have to do with Culligan and water? Let us explain.

As described by the government of Alberta, "Oil sand is a naturally occurring mixture of sand, clay or other minerals, water and bitumen, which is heavy and extremely viscous oil that must be treated before it can be used by refineries to produce usable fuels such as gasoline and diesel." Now here's the problem. That water in the oil sand is being overused by the energy industry to the point where it has become an issue. This is where we come in. Looking beyond water softener and filtration systems, Culligan is digging deeper, literally.

With a history of tackling industrial water projects (that includes the use, reuse and proper disposal of the resource), Culligan is developing a new focus on oil sands. The sands have come under heavy criticism in Alberta for the way water coming from the Athabasca (oil sands), in addition to other rivers, is being handled. Unfortunately, the handling process leads to an abundance of unnecessary waste. Enter Culligan.

In a recent interview with Alberta Oil Magazine, Allan Connolly, Chief Operating Officer for Culligan discussed our plan of action in improving the water use problem with oil sands in Alberta. "Just like energy, just like oil, water's a finite resource," said Connolly. "… I know it's hard to believe that Western Canada could ever run out of water, but in certain geographies it could - or worse, you run into a contamination problem. In the combination of oil and water, that's a real risk, so when you start to recycle and reuse water effectively, there's really less of a risk."

With that being said, the goal of Culligan is to reduce the energy industry's water footprint. The oil sands industry has a strong drive to get better utilization and recycle rates. And as Connolly explains, "What we're (Culligan) really interested in is the smaller to mid-sized applications. Once the projects get big enough that the thermal technologies come into play, they do a great job. They're recovering high percentages of water. That technology is great on the mega scale, but not as good on the smaller scale. What we're looking to do is provide solutions in the small- to mid- sized units all the way down to the pilot-sized."

Water… it's one of the most vital resources in the world and we plan on continuing to take the steps to protect and improve it.


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