Sarens Executes Seamless Transport and Installation Operation for Horizon Oil Sands Project in Canada
Sarens transports, assembles, and installs three major VDU components at Fort McKay facility
January 2024

When clients need full-service solutions for complex transportation and lifting challenges, they turn to Sarens. Applying our world-class engineering expertise and equipment to real-world challenges is a Sarens hallmark, and we recently had the opportunity to do just that as we engineered the assembly, transport, and installation of three major unit (VDU) components for the Horizon Oil Sands Project in Fort McKay, Canada.

The Sarens team collaborated with the client over a period of six months, starting in 2019, to develop plans for the assembly and installation phases of the project. Sarens advised the client on equipment installation logistics and assembly design that would be vital to a safe and successful operation. Sarens was also responsible for conducting a route study, identifying civil works improvements that would be required to transport the components from the temporary facility to the operational unit. 

The components to be installed included two large process modules and a large furnace heater. The 800-tonne VLM module measured 20,1 x 10,5 x 35,5 metres, the 900-tonne furnace measured 21,5 x 15,5 x 24,0 metres, and the 300-tonne VLM bridge measured 35,5 x 13,5 x 6,0 metres. 

One of the VLM modules was to be installed with jack and slide activities, while the other was to be installed with a crane over a live unit. The furnace heater was to be installed with SPMTs. In total, Sarens deployed the following equipment to assemble, deliver, and install the components for the facility’s new vacuum distillation unit:

  • Demag CC8800-1 SSL 102
  • Demag SL3800 SSL78
  • 48 x SPMT axle lines
  • 12 x CS250 jacking towers
  • 15 x low-profile 250T-capacity skid shoes
  • 60 x skid tracks

With plans, equipment, and people in place, Sarens SPMTs transported the three components in different configurations, travelling along a 3-kilometre route. In total, Sarens delivered 2.000 tonnes of equipment into a live operational area within a two-week window.

The project progressed smoothly despite some initial challenges, including a delay that shifted planned operations from summer to wintertime. With temperatures dropping as low as -25⁰ C in the northern reaches of Alberta, the Sarens team had to work capably and confidently despite the Canadian chill.

During the next phase of the project, Sarens skillfully maneuvered within a confined, continually operational area to install the three components. The crew carefully installed the large VLM module, furnace, and the most critical load, the VLM bridge module, which was designed to link the existing operation unit to the new operation unit.

As always, Sarens pulled off the project with our signature attention to detail, safety, and excellence. We would like to congratulate everyone involved from the planning phases to the final on-site execution.