2022 Project Achievement Award Recipient
This award is presented to an engineering or geoscience project that contributes new technologies, processes, or innovations for the improvement of society.
2021 NGTL System Expansion - Compression Facilities
With deposits found in nearly every province and territory, natural gas is considered one of the most useful forms of energy. After being stripped of impurities and by-products, it’s distributed across the country, where—mainly through heat and power—it accounts for more than a third of the energy Canada uses. Alberta does much of the heavy lifting, supplying about 65 per cent of the country’s total natural gas production.
In 2021, in response to rising global demand for natural gas and the phasing out of coal-fired power plants, TC Energy Corporation broke ground on a sizeable solution. With its subsidiary, NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL), it began adding an extra 344 kilometres of pipeline and three 30-megawatt compressor stations to its NGTL natural gas pipeline system.
“In order to remain competitive and respond to increasing customer demand, we needed to expand our system and increase compression,” notes professional engineer Chris Phung, the company’s manager of compression projects.
It was a hefty undertaking, with the stations themselves—located at the existing Nordegg, Didsbury, and Beiseker sites in Alberta—amounting to a combined $430-million project. Regulatory delays increased the challenge, requiring Phung and his team to complete the project about 30 per cent more quickly than traditional builds. “We had to think outside of the box,” he remembers.
The team settled on an innovative, modular strategy that saw many components, including turbines and auxiliary buildings, built in fabrication yards off site and trucked in for assembly. While common in the upstream industry, this type of modular construction had not yet been attempted at this scale in the pipeline industry. Additionally, 3-D scans of each module were conducted to ensure the components would fit together perfectly on site.
Transportation added an extra layer of difficulty to the project—the 24-foot height of the modules and the large turn radius of the trucks carrying them meant that power lines had to be lifted and country roads widened.
Guided by the core principles of safety, integrity, responsibility, and collaboration, TC Energy diligently engaged with all rightsholders and stakeholders who would be touched by the project to build lasting relationships.
Phung says constructing respectful and positive community relations is also a priority in every project—and this one raised the bar. In the Didsbury area, for instance, construction workers raised $10,000 to help revamp an outdoor learning area, and two female engineers-in-training visited a school to encourage female students to consider a career in engineering. Other initiatives included fundraising $16,000 for the Thumbs Up Foundation, which aims to improve access to mental health care, and participating in Orange Shirt Day, which raises awareness of the horrors of the residential school system.
Phung is proud of what he and his team of nearly 1,000 professionals accomplished in eight short months and is honoured to have that work recognized with a Project Achievement Award. “It’s a great acknowledgement,” he glows.
Key members involved in the project’s development include, in alphabetical order:
Jesse Bajnok, P.Eng.
Adrien Belage, P.Eng.
Mike Crickard, P.Eng.
Anuraag Gupta, P.Eng.
Adam Hunt, P.Eng.
Kyle Keith, P.Eng.
Matt Nazarko, P.Eng.
Chris Phung, P.Eng.
Justin Pruss, P.Eng.
Indra Sarwinata, P.Eng.
Andrew Wytsma, P.Eng.
Kanwal Zarrar, P.Eng.