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Project Name: Canadian Oil Company

Project Location: Alberta, Canada

Project Background

In Alberta’s oil sands region, constructing access roads is challenging due to the soft subgrades like muskeg and saturated clay, and the high costs or scarcity of suitable fill material. These roads must support construction, drilling, and equipment loads exceeding 125,000 lbs (approximately 56,700 kg) with wheel loads of 15,000 lbs (approximately 6,800 kg).

The Challenge

The challenge was building durable and cost-effective access roads over weak subgrades that can reliably support heavy equipment, while also considering the scarcity or high cost of traditional fill materials.

Innovative Approach Using Advanced Geosynthetic Technology

Presto Geosystems, in partnership with Layfield Group, designed and supervised the installation of two test access roads, each 7-9 meters wide (23-30 feet). These were specifically designed for a soft clay subbase with a California Bearing Ratio (CBR) of only 0.9, indicative of the challenging terrain.

Solution Implementation

The innovative GEOWEB® Soil Stabilization System was implemented along with a high-strength, high-flow geotextile. To demonstrate the system’s effectiveness and potential for cost savings, reject screenings from crushing operations—coarse sand less than 5mm (approximately 0.2 inches)—were utilized as infill, a departure from traditional aggregate materials.

Results & Performance

The introduction of the GEOWEB system significantly reduced the necessary road cross-section from 1.5 meters (approximately 5 feet) to less than 300mm (approximately 12 inches), translating to material cost savings and enhanced stability. The roads constructed with the GEOWEB system met performance expectations, proving the system’s capability in reducing infill costs and enhancing roadway stability. This success has led to the adoption of the GEOWEB system for additional oil field lease roads and pads in the region.

The GEOWEB system has emerged as an effective solution for constructing access roads in challenging terrains, achieving substantial cost savings while ensuring the structural performance needed to handle heavy loads. Its successful application underscores the system’s potential for broader adoption in similar environments.

“We did not like the material, we loved it. The roads have been performing way above our highest expectations” Construction Procurement Manager, Canadian Oil Company, Road project.