PTW Branch Operations feature of the week – Norman Wells
Situated in the Northwest Territories, at Canada’s oldest conventional onshore oilfield, our Norman Wells team exclusively services Imperial Oil’s Norman Wells oilfield, located on Mackenzie River, about 90 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Oil was first struck at this site in August 1920 with PTW at this location since the 1990s.
The Norman Wells site employs 70 employees and 50 contractors for its normal day-to-day operations and at peak production, the site produced approximately 32.63 thousand bpd of crude oil and condensate and 13 Mmcfd of natural gas.
Our Norman Wells team provides daily electrical and instrumentation (E&I) preventative and issue-based maintenance at Norman Wells, which can be challenging due to the location of the site, and its remoteness. This site has no permanent road access and is exclusively a fly-in-fly-out operation so getting materials and tools to site in a timely manner can be difficult as everything needs to be brought in by plane or barge when the river isn’t frozen. “When the river is not frozen, things can get intense as only a certain number of barges are able to enter Norman Wells every year, so a lot of planning and coordination is required to ensure we are able to get larger equipment in” comments Greg Duggan, Area Manager to the Norman Wells branch.
The weather can also pose challenges for the team, as they are often working in very cold temperatures. In the winter, they are working in conditions where there are only a few hours of sunlight, and in the summer, there are months where the sun only sets for a few hours, so both extremes can present challenges to those working in Norman Wells.
“Because of the challenging climate and remoteness of the location, our team must rely on each other to be successful. A lot can go wrong at this site so it is imperative that our staff know how to react and are available to one another to lend a hand in order to achieve a common goal. A lot of our staff have been working at this site for five or more years and I would say our team’s biggest attribute is their teamwork skills and ability to work well together”. A lot of the time, the staff are required to work individually and must take a helicopter or barge to get to a location, so strong communication skills is also key on this site to know where everyone is working.