News and views

Using wooden mats to minimize our footprint

Wooden mats are laid out to form a temporary road at one of our sites in northern Alberta.

February 2016 – Working in Northern Alberta often means dealing with challenging conditions, including swampy terrain. In winter, the ground is frozen so we’re able to work in these areas with minimal impact to the landscape. However, during warmer weather, the soil softens so much that heavy equipment can become stuck and there can also be increased impact on the environment.

To overcome these challenges, we use reusable wooden mats to create temporary access roads and work areas that can be quickly installed. The wooden mats provide stable and safe conditions for our equipment and help protect the soil, roots and vegetation underneath. For example, we’ve been able to drill test wells at our oil sands sites that aren’t accessible by a standard road. The wooden mats allow us to create 300-metre long temporary roads rather than waiting for cold weather to freeze the wet ground. When we’re done, we simply pick up the mats and move them to the next location.

“Wooden mats have been part of our tool box since we began as Cenovus in 2009,” says Jamie Clarke, Specialist, Civil Earthworks. “This has allowed us to safely install several kilometres of pipeline and drill dozens of wells at our two oil sands operations and do it in a way that’s environmentally responsible.”