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Grizzly Oil Sands Automates Production

Steam-assisted gravity drainage technology has lowered Canadian oil sands production costs using Rockwell Automation’s PlantPAx process automation system.

Grizzly Oil Sands, an Alberta, Canada, independent oil sands company, has awarded a more than  $4 million order to Rockwell Automation and its Global Solutions team. Global Solutions will use the Rockwell Automation PlantPAx process automation system to 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 of engineering, Grizzly Oil Sands.

Grizzly has developed a unique facilities model, called advanced relocatable modular standard development, to reduce costs, risks and the 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,” Harrison continued.

A shadow control room, built on a virtualized computing environment, will be developed at Grizzly’s Calgary, Alberta, headquarters to monitor and control our current and future oil sites across northern Alberta, according to Harrison. “This unique open architecture is an important reason Rockwell Automation won the order,” he said.

The project also includes project management and engineering services, low- and medium-voltage motor control centers, and a PowerFlex 7000 medium-voltage variable-frequency drive.

“This is a major win for us in the oil sands market, and an important win for our PlantPAx and the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture platform,” said 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 plant-wide 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, a global provider of process field instrumentation and plant-asset management solutions, was tapped as a member of the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork framework to provide instrumentation to complement its asset management solution.

“This combination of systems and products, together with experience and knowledge, will help Grizzly reduce integration costs throughout engineering, commissioning and startup,” said Gebert. “It’s how our PartnerNetwork framework adds customer value by helping deliver complete solutions.”

Grizzly Oil Sands is an Alberta, Canada, corporation formed in 2006 for the acquisition, exploration and development of bitumen production using thermal technologies. Grizzly holds one of the largest oil sand lease positions in Alberta among independent development-stage oil sands companies with more than 700,000 net acres of oil sands leases and permits. For more information, please visit or