Air Quality Assessment: In Situ Thermal Oil Sands SAGD Facility


An oilsands developer requested to scope a potential increase in their facility sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission limit to allow for operational flexibility. To support this regulatory amendment request, Matrix Solutions Inc. conducted refined air dispersion modelling at the higher sulphur dioxide rate to predict air quality impacts of the change. The initial ground level sulphur dioxide concentration predictions were higher than expected under certain wind conditions. Matrix determined the problem was with the building shape and orientation of the steam generator stacks causing building downwash. Matrix worked with the client to redesign the building and orientation of emission sources to drastically reduce the predicted air quality impacts of the proposed change to sulphur dioxide emissions.

The original facility design with high ground‑level sulphur dioxide (SO2) impacts compared to the revised design with reduced sulphur dioxide impacts.


  • Matrix conducted air dispersion modelling to predict the impacts of a facility sulphur dioxide emission increase.
  • Matrix advised the client on how facility design changes can drastically improve environmental outcomes.


  • The client wanted to increase their facility sulphur dioxide emission limit while still complying with Alberta ambient air quality objectives.
  • The original facility design was not predicted to comply with air quality objectives at the increased sulphur dioxide emission limit.


The client was able to submit an amendment application with compliant air assessment with the sulphur dioxide emission rate they desired. By changing the building and stack layout at the facility, the predicted air quality impacts of the higher sulphur dioxide emissions were greatly reduced.




Oil & Gas


June 2019 ‑ February 2020


    Learn about some of the interesting projects Matrix’s team of environmental consultants and engineers get to be a part of.

    Got a specific question about a project or opportunity?

    Use this form or the email address below to drop us a line and we’ll make sure it gets sent to the appropriate Matrix team.

    General inquiries

    Use the email below to contact our reception mailbox

    Join the Matrix Team

    We’re always looking for great people who share our values.

    I hereby accept the terms and agreement