Reclamation Certification Using Disturbance Recovery Models and Remote Sensing


Providing practical and economical solutions is one of Vertex’s commitments to our clients. Conventional reclamation assessment of oil sand exploration well/corehole programs requires field assessments of all associated well sites and access roads. These field assessments have a high cost and environmental impact and are often highly subjective. Vertex’s Research and Development, Operations and Remote Sensing teams worked collaboratively to develop a remote sensing approach combined with disturbance recovery models to overcome these limitations. The approach utilizes remote sensing data and ecological resiliency factors to rank the well sites and access roads, and only sites with reduced recovery/resiliency are field assessed. Between 2021 and 2022, Vertex used this approach for Imperial Oil and received a reclamation certificate for a 29-site oil sands exploration program.


Applying disturbance recovery models with remote sensing allows for the use of publicly available and free remote sensing data versus higher-cost data that is required for a solely remote sensing approach. The free remote sensing data has a lower resolution, but the data is not used as the primary assessment; the ranking of the sites and field assessment of a small portion of the sites is the primary assessment method. Maintaining a field assessment component allows for verification of the approach and correction of minor reclamation deficiencies.


Vertex’s disturbance recovery model and remote sensing approach resulted in a significant reduction in field and overall assessment costs compared to conventional field assessments. A solely remote sensing approach would have also resulted in a significant reduction in field costs (provided no or minimal field verification was completed, and no minor reclamation deficiencies needed correction), but the overall cost would be similar or slightly greater than a conventional assessment due to the cost of high-resolution remote sensing data. Vertex plans to continue to refine the approach so it can also be applied to conventional oil and gas.

Put us to
work for you.

Tell us about your project

Whether you're seeking equipment rentals, specialized services, or end-to-end project management, Vertex can help you find a solution. Contact us today.