Community concerns led to pressure to adopt air emissions abatement technology for a major oil sands operator. Technical and economic decision support was needed to select an optimum abatement option for their cogeneration facilities.


A project owner was evaluating an enhancement to a project which would reduce air emissions (nitrous oxides / NOx) from their cogeneration units. The cogeneration units were providing process steam, on-site electricity, and grid export of electricity. The client required technical and economic decision support to understand the impacts of applying post-combustion treatment in order to reduce these emissions.

Our Approach

Advisian applied a structured process for decision making, which included the following steps:

  • Decision framing workshop facilitation to identify the problem statement, stakeholders, options, and evaluation criteria
  • Applying technical expertise to develop a range of cogeneration options, representing varying levels of cost and mitigation of NOx emissions
  • Monetization of social and environmental parameters and risks
  • Enhanced cost benefit analysis over the project lifecycle using Advisian’s DELTA™ cost benefit modelling software

The options modelled represented a range of possible air emissions outcomes, and included:

  • Designing to satisfy the current regulatory minimum NOx target
  • Using enhanced low NOx burner design to achieve substantial emissions reductions
  • Utilizing post-combustion treatment to achieve substantial emissions reductions
  • Various combinations of dry low NOx burner (DLN) technologies and post-combustion treatment

The client used Advisian’s expertise to compare not only the financial costs of the options (e.g. capital, operating costs, chemicals, fuel, water usage), but also the monetized social costs of NOemissions, greenhouse gas and particulate matter (PM) emissions, byproduct formation and land disturbance footprint.

Value Delivered

Advisian’s structured process and expertise delivered a clear, defensible business case comparison of abatement options for the client, which included a convincing positive outcome for external stakeholders. 

Specific findings included: 

  • Recent advancements in dry low NO(DLN) burners provide a robustly superior solution to the issue of NOemissions. This option provides a “win-win” outcome of improved financial performance and reduced air emissions
  • The post-combustion treatment option was not optimal. It was inferior in financial Net Present Value (NPV) terms, and resulted in higher byproduct formation, which counteracted the NOemission reductions
  • The value provided by choosing the preferred solution amounted to an 8% to 13% NPV advantage for the client over post-combustion configurations. In addition, this solution reduced mean predicted risk exposures by $200 million over the lifecycle. These results represent substantial lifecycle cost savings, including schedule uncertainty due to permitting risks.