Water management is important in the development of oil and gas projects. “Industry is saying, ‘Water security is business security – we need to get our capital and operational costs right, but more importantly, we need to understand the magnitude of the water and waste we’re managing,’” Integrated Sustainability President Stuart Torr observes.
“In the studies of 15 years ago, we only evaluated technology as a capital cost,” he continues. “We never assessed the social and environmental consequences of technology selection – that was a cost of business, and it would fall within the operational parameters. It has been absolutely fascinating to watch that change in industry in the last 15 years. What we’re seeing in Western Canada is a real appetite to ensure that the projects are analyzed and scrutinized through the multiple lenses of sustainability.”
Integrated Sustainability was founded in 2010 by Torr as a niche full-service engineering and consulting firm specializing in servicing the global mining and oil and gas industries with sustainable answers to water, waste and energy management problems.
“In the last three years, the appetite for assessing long-term water security has grown to become standard thinking in the industry,” Torr reports. “Everybody always thought we’d have plenty of water, but when you start looking at the huge volumes of water that are required to manage both oil and shale gas exploration, you have to do it responsibly. Our focus now is to understand how to manage water and waste and how to select the right responsible sources so that you can operate successfully long-term.”
Integrated Sustainability manages the entire lifecycle of water, from determining a source of groundwater or surface water, through its transportation in pipelines and storage in tanks and ponds, to its ultimate treatment as wastewater after its use by the oil, gas and mining industries. The company also provides consulting. “We do a lot of that front-end thinking about water security planning that is very key and a core part of our business, and the engineering side of our business, building infrastructure,” Torr says.
“We help the industry to develop robust and long-term water strategies by leading with risk management and regulatory advisory services,” Torr says. “We take it all the way to water recycling, water injection and landfill facilities, where we can consolidate and dry the solids. Our aim is to understand the needs and demands of the industry and to lead with innovative solutions that drive long-term sustainable resource extraction.”
Integrated Sustainability is a pioneer in the sustainable development of water and waste assets. “We are the leading engineering in the design and construction of water hubs for hydraulic fracturing,” Torr emphasizes. “We have designed and constructed over $150 million worth of water infrastructure in 2014 alone, and our sustainable solutions have influenced environmental and regulatory standards in Western Canada.
“So we’re able to take things all the way from feasibility through to construction,” he continues. “We have an element of alternative delivery. We can offer fixed price turnkey projects depending on our risk appetite. We are essentially a smaller version of an EPCM company, but we only focus on water, wastewater and energy on the basis of trying to emphasize the responsible use of water and reduction in the energy footprint in our projects.”
Half and Half
Approximately half of Integrated Sustainability’s business is water management for gas development and half is for oil sands mining. Torr estimates that 90 percent of the company’s clients are repeat clients, and the majority of its work is sole-sourced because of its differentiation as a full-service water specialist. Most of the company’s business is currently in Western Canada. Geographical expansion targets include diversification within Canada and additional international locations.
Torr attributes the company’s success to “a lot of hard work and bringing in great people together. The energy, the commitment and the culture that we have are quite extraordinary. The passion that we have for water drives a determined, tenacious spirit. Our company passion surrounds the responsible management of water. Our engineered solutions are known to be innovative and courageous.”
Among the many awards the company has won is Water Management Company of the Year at the inaugural Canadian Oil and Gas Industry Summit and Awards in June in Calgary. “I’m very proud of the people that we have brought together,” Torr concludes. “We have managed to do what I believe is unique in the industry, and that is to combine and integrate engineering and science to provide one holistic service offering. All of our science and engineering disciplines work hand-in-hand through the lifecycle of the development of the project. We are a specialized company of water and waste professionals within one house, and that is unique.”