Integrated process and motor controls help extract oil from Grizzly Oil Sands

steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology lowered Canadian oil sands production costs using Rockwell Automation's PlantPAx process automation system, motor controls, and variable frequency drives.


An integrated process and motor control system will help Grizzly produce more than 5,000 barrels of oil per day at the first phase of its Algar Lake Project. The solution supports steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), an enhanced oil-recovery technology for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen.

“SAGD production has recently surpassed all other methods of in-situ oil sands recovery. We continue to look for ways to advance our ideas and optimize our efforts to recover bitumen from the one trillion barrels of oil in the Athabasca Oil Sands deposit,” said Brian Harrison, vice president, engineering, Grizzly Oil Sands. Grizzly developed a unique facilities model, Advanced Relocatable Modular Standard development, to reduce costs, risks and environmental footprint associated with in-situ thermal development. “For our unique Grizzly facility model we needed an advanced, integrated process and motor control system that would monitor multiple SAGD sites from one central location, now and as we expand.”

Grizzly Oil Sands has awarded a order for more than $4 million to Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK), and its Global Solutions team, which will use the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx process automation system to integrate process and motor controls.

A shadow control room, built on a virtualized computing environment, will be developed at Grizzly’s Calgary, Alberta headquarters to monitor and control current and future oil sites across Northern Alberta, according to Harrison. The company wanted open-architecture systems. The project also includes project management and engineering services, low- and medium-voltage motor control centers, and a Rockwell Automation PowerFlex 7000 medium-voltage variable frequency drive.

Terry Gebert, vice president and general manager, Rockwell Automation Global Solutions. “It includes architecture, software and power control in one solution, utilizing a major process automation system designed to improve plantwide optimization and reduce extraction costs. Our experience, oil and gas domain expertise, and global resources will help Grizzly Oil Sands run a profitable and sustainable operation.”

Endress+Hauser, part of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork, provided instrumentation to go with asset management software. Grizzly expects to reduce integration costs throughout engineering, commissioning and startup, said Gebert. 

Rockwell Automation Inc. 

Grizzly Oil Sands

- Edited by Chris Vavra and Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering, 

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