Tervita: Your Leader in Environmental and Energy Services

Date PublishedJune 19, 2013
Article AuthorMarkham Hislop
Article TypeJanuary 2013 Issue
PULSE Interactive

Tervita: Your Leader in Environmental and Energy Services

Innovation is a constant in the oil patch, and the newly named and re-organized Tervita has been innovating from its humble beginnings in 1984 as a one rig service company.  In fact, innovation is such an important part of the company’s DNA that it was recently named Oilweek Magazine’s 2012 Supplier of the Year.

The prestigious award is bestowed annually to a company that shows innovative leadership and excels in the Canadian energy service and supply industry. In an online poll among five service companies selected by Oilweek’s editorial team, Tervita received more than 5,400 votes, 62 percent of the vote.

“We are honoured and humbled by the selection of Tervita as Supplier of the Year,” said John Gibson, Tervita president and CEO. “We are blessed to work with a community of customers who are dedicated to responsible and ethical operations. We further benefit from a cadre of employees who are diligent and committed to meeting the needs of those customers. Thank you to our employees and customers for taking the time to vote and support Tervita.”

“Tervita’s selection as Supplier of the Year, I think, is a testament to the important work being done by the company, and by others like it, in the environmental services sector, particularly in relation to upstream oil and gas activities in western Canada,” said Dale Lunan, Oilweek Magazine editor. Innovative technology introduced by Tervita in 2012 alone includes:

1. Green Rig

Tervita’s green rig uses patented rack and pinion technology that allows the rig to push and pull.

Automation technology means the rig needs only three workers instead of the usual five, which is important in tight labour markets like western Canada, and it keeps those workers at a safer distance. Power is provided by diesel or, for SAGD customers, power from onsite steam plants.

“This is a pivotal moment for the service rig industry,” said Gibson. “In the last 30 years, there have been no real significant changes to service rigs. We feel the move to the rack and pinion technology will provide greater automation and the increased benefit to safety and the environment represents the future of the industry.”

2. Abandonment Technology

Tervita acquired an exclusive patent for Direxit, a chemical that more effectively seals wells with surface casing vent flow or gas migration problems. GM, SCVFs and casing leaks are problems that have been solved by Direxit where no other material succeeded. The low viscosity water-like solution allows it to penetrate the pore space and block pressure losses up to 170 MPa/meter of core (7,500 psi/ft).

3. Blowdown/Concentrate Treatment

Tervita licensed a new product from Veolia water Solutions and Technologies of Plainfield, Illinois that removes silica from produced water and provides more disposal options. The focus will be on the blowdown/concentrate from first generation or older produced water evaporation systems, which typically required disposal in salt caverns.

4.  Bioremediation of Oil Sands

Mine Tailings and hydrocarbon – Contaminated soils Tervita is helping to pioneer biological treatment systems oil sands tailings ponds and contaminated soils. The partnership of Tervita and the universities of Alberta and Calgary, and the Biorefining research Institute at Lakehead University, are developing advanced microbial consortia (two or more different microbial groups living cooperatively) with the ability to degrade mixed organic and inorganic wastes. Initial research has demonstrated promising results, and with the potential to produce secondary valuable products.

David Werklund and Gordon Vivian’s little oil patch engine that could now has 4,600 employees, offices around the world, and is a leading integrated energy and environment company. The company is active in Saskatchewan (it recently opened a regional office in Saskatoon), especially in the Bakken, where it expects to ramp up its presence in the near future.

Until recently Tervita was 13 separate companies, many of them familiar to oil patch veterans – HAZCO, CCS Corporation, Concord, Beck, HMI, Prodrill. The annual revenue of the combined companies is over $5 billion, which makes Tervita a major player in the oil and gas services sector.

“By joining together our individual expertise, experience, assets and services, we will be uniquely positioned to develop integrated project management solutions and provide our customers easier access to our comprehensive range of services,” said CEO John Gibson in March when the amalgamation was announced.

What does the new and improved Tervita offer to the oil patch? According to Gibson, a comprehensive suite of services covering every stage of the production lifecycle, from development to reclamation – fluids services, solids services, production services, energy marketing  and reclamation.

“Our vision is to create a better future by growing our global leadership in environmental and energy solutions,” Gibson said. “We’re developing new technologies and processes to address today’s challenges such as water treatment, tailings management and reclamation.”


In 1984, Werklund and Vivian bought one service rig and started a company called Concord well Servicing. Five years later they invested in Canadian Crude Separators, which opened a facility in Laglace, Alberta to treat oil waste. From that humble beginning, the company grew rapidly, acquiring other companies along the way, especially during the boom in the middle of last decade, when the industry was flush with cash and expanding as the price of oil headed for the stratosphere.

Now the various companies are combined under one roof and ready to grow and expand. One part of the oil patch that looks pretty promising these days is Saskatchewan, especially the Bakken play down in the southeast corner near Estevan and Weyburn.

North Dakota and Montana are the big players in the Bakken and together they produce over 750,000 barrels of light sweet crude. American Bakken production has expanded so rapidly it threatens to overwhelm the pipeline and transportation infrastructure. Fingers are crossed hoping Calgary-based pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. gets the green light from the State Department early next year to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which will ship both Canadian oil sands dilbit and Bakken crude to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Tervita has already set up shop on the American side of the 49th Parallel. For instance, the company has a number of closed loop systems for drilling rigs working in North Dakota that help operators reduce their development footprints by up to 30%.

The Canadian portion of the Bakken pumps about 60,000 barrels a day and accounts for a third of the provincial output, according to the Saskatchewan government.

Derek J Yockey, Tervita regional Manager – South Saskatchewan, waste Processing division, says the company already has a solid base in the area that includes a salt water disposal facility at Arcola, an industrial landfill at Lomond, a bioremediation plant in Regina and a field office in Weyburn. “The Bakken has been a great emerging market for the province of Saskatchewan and we’re always looking for opportunities to expand,” said Yockey. “Watch for Tervita in the Bakken play, that’s for sure.”

Don’t expect do drop off your old sofa at the Lomond landfill, located south of Weyburn. Yockey says the facility is permitted by Saskatchewan Environment strictly for contaminated industrial solids. In fact, a casual observer of the site would only notice piles and piles of dirt.

If a pipeline has a small release, for instance, Yockey says Tervita’s waste services division or third party consultant samples the soil and determines if the chemical parameters meet the landfill’s operating permit. If it does, then a waste confirmation report is issued and the material begins to move into the landfill.

“Every load is predominately contaminated with crude oil or salt water. Every load has been pre-screened for a set of criteria with the Ministry of Environment. So nothing just shows up haphazardly,” he said.

Tervita landfills are “engineered structures” that are double-lined with a geo-synthetic clay liner and a high density polyethylene liner. Yockey compares the liners to a coffee maker filter: nothing happens with the grounds while they’re dry, but the instant you add water, you have coffee. Or, in the case of contaminated soil, leachate.

Whatever contaminated the soil in the first place has now migrated to the leachate, which has become motile and could contaminate soil in the landfill if not properly cared for.

Tervita regularly draws down the leachate and disposes of it in the Arcola facility.

“We basically remove the risk for the generator (of the contaminated soil). That’s why Tervita is superior. We protect the long-term liability of our customer,” said Yockey, who notes that industry, especially oil and gas, has become more sensitive to protecting the environment from industrial operations.

“The oil and gas industry is very cognizant of the need or long-term risk mitigation and the need for facilities like Tervita’s, with the people on the ground to respond to incidents as they occur and minimize the risk to the environment, minimize the risk to people,” he added.

Yockey says Tervita acquired the assets of several small companies in the Arcola and Stoughton area because management believed that part of the Bakken was likely to be the most active in coming years. The company drilled and completed one disposal well in Viewfield, a half hour south of Stoughton.

The water disposal facility in Arcola, which is an hour’s drive northeast of Estevan, is also strictly regulated by Saskatchewan Energy and resources, according to Yockey. The reservoir has to be isolated from other producing zones. The well is deeper than a regular oil well and protected with a full cement bond from the surface casing down to the production casing, which gives Tervita the ability to put that water into the exact zone it’s licensed for. Tervita has to ensure no hydrocarbons are being injected into the reservoir, so it employs a simple “fill, settle, ship” process: fill a tank, apply heat, and the light oil naturally separates.

“Annually you have to provide to the Saskatchewan government hydraulic isolation logs, as well demonstrate that the packer isolating your production tubing from any other zone is where it is supposed to be and is holding pressure,” said Yockey.

Understanding environmental regulations and having the staff, technology and facilities to help customers meet or exceed government standards is an important part of the Tervita business model. The company prides itself on its commitment to protecting the environment. When management decided to amalgamate the old CCS companies under one roof, choosing a new name was important. Tervita comes from the Latin words terra, meaning earth, and vita, meaning life. The name is a reflection of the company’s commitment to the earth’s energy and its environment.

Yockey says environmental performance is important to Tervita. The company has built its success on a deep understanding of environmental regulations and a comprehensive environmental management system that promotes environmental leadership beyond compliance requirements. Tervita’s extensive compliance program includes regular third party and internal reviews of facilities, audits to meet regulatory approval, and technologically advanced facility design to mitigate potential environmental impacts.

Saskatchewan, the Bakken play in particular, is part of Tervita’s expansion plans.

“We plan to be in the Bakken long-term. We see it as being very similar to the business model in other areas.  As the wells are brought on to production, we see the water to oil ratio increase and therefore the need for Tervita’s services,” Yockey said.

The Tervita Manifesto

We take from the earth because we need to.

But we also give back to the earth, because we need to.

We work to minimize the impact of our quest for energy.

We work to reclaim the earth.

Partly because it’s the right thing to do.

For today.  For the future.

And partly because – more and more – cleaning up after ourselves is just good business.

And failing to take care of the earth can have serious consequences, both financial and otherwise.

We are Tervita, a North American leader in environmental and energy services.

We support responsible development.

Preserving the earth from start to finish.

Preserving our client’s reputations and bottom lines at the same time.

What we do matters. Because earth matters.