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Vanderwell Contractors and Expander Energy to bring Canada’s first Biomass Gas-to-Liquids plant to Slave Lake, Alberta

Vanderwell Contractors

Author:  Expander Energy Inc

The Slave Lake biomass/gas-to-liquids proposed project has received an environmental permit from Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to establish Canada’s first biomass gas-to-liquids plant next to Vanderwell’s sawmill site in Slave Lake, Alta.’s Mitsue Industrial Park.

The Plant will produce over 6.5 million liters per year of low-carbon intensity, clean-burning synthetic diesel fuel (trade named SynDiesel®) made from sawmill and forestry residuals. The Plant will concurrently produce marketable volumes of hydrogen from the process. The AEP permit is the last significant permit required to enable the construction and operation of the Project.

The Plant will use Expander’s patented process and wood waste from Vanderwell’s operations as feedstock to create a low-carbon diesel fuel that will meet Canada’s new Clean Fuel Standard to 2030 and beyond. This is a significant step in meeting both the Provincial and Federal Government mandates that require diesel fuel to meet progressively more stringent Carbon Intensity limits.

The project is well under way with construction expected to begin in late 2021. The first phase is a commercial demonstration plant producing 6.5 million litres per year of SynDiesel® followed by a commercial expansion to over 20 million litres per year.  The proposed 30-million-dollar Plant will create local construction jobs as well as permanent operating and maintenance jobs.

“Vanderwell is very excited about being involved in this innovative and very important project and to have it here in our backyard in Slave Lake,” stated President Ken Vanderwell. “There is no doubt renewable low-carbon intensity fuels are going to be a large component in the future of the energy industry and building the first such plant in Canada here in Slave Lake will be a major accomplishment.”

Expander CEO, Steve Price added, “We couldn’t be happier to have Vanderwell as a partner. As a cornerstone family-owned business in Slave Lake they bring credibility and capability that are essential to making this project a success.”

After a successful commercial demonstration, Expander and Vanderwell are planning to utilize additional wood waste in the area and to examine alternative feedstocks. These could include other forestry residuals, landfill material and municipal wastewater solids, and others.  Expander anticipates that the Slave Lake area has a biomass availability that could support a facility producing 200 million liters of SynDiesel® per year.

In addition, hydrogen is becoming increasingly important as a promising fuel to reduce the use of fossil fuels in select sectors and is key to moving Alberta and Canada toward the stated goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Our hydrogen will serve as an early building block in creating a cleaner provincial and federal energy economy.

“This is about converting waste material into a high-quality renewable low-carbon intensity fuel and a valuable hydrogen product that can help both the environment and create a new industry in Alberta and Canada,” Ken Vanderwell added.

International Forests and World Water Day

Nicole St.Jean

To commemorate International Forests and World Water Day, Vanderwell would like to share some of its commitments and achievements in reforestation and watershed protection.

Every year Vanderwell plants trees in their recently harvested blocks, giving those areas a jump-start on reforestation.  The tree species planted is dictated by what was growing there before harvest, to get as close to natural regeneration as possible.  Once the trees are planted, Vanderwell tends to their growth over 14 years.  Each of those seedlings will capture, on average, one tonne of carbon over its lifetime.  That is a lot of carbon being captured by a young, hungry, and growing tree!  Forest companies’ replanting practices renew the health and retain the function of forest water systems.

In the summer of 2020 alone, Vanderwell planted 3,214,680 seedlings on Crown Land and in 2021 they plan to plant even more, 4.9 million seedlings!  Vanderwell also owns a large amount of private land and manages this land as part of their ongoing commitment to Sustainable Forest Management. In 2020 Vanderwell planted 194,265 seedlings on private land. Vanderwell also planted 624,780 seedlings as part of a Wildfire Reclamation Program in 2020. This program is funded by the Government of Alberta and helps to re-establish forest cover in previously reforested cutblocks damaged and destroyed by wildfire.  Forest-related disasters like wildfires can disrupt our water supply so this program is vital to keeping our forests healthy.

Speaking of water systems, Vanderwell has a representative on the Board of Directors of the Lesser Slave Watershed Council (LSWC) which is the Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) for the area that Vanderwell primarily operates in.  Currently the LSWC is in the last year of a five-year Water Quality Monitoring program on the Lesser Slave Lake and tributaries.  Vanderwell is a major sponsor of this program as it will establish a 5-year data set that will help us assess the condition of our rivers and make informed watershed and land management decisions.

Forests are vital to Alberta’s watershed in many ways – they help maintain wetlands, keep water in the ground in a particular area, and reduce the risk of floods.  The health of our forests plays a significant part in making sure that all Albertans have access to clean, fresh drinking water.

 

(Left) Youths' building a woodshed with Vanderwell lumber, (Middle) Vanderwell mill tour, (Right) Closing Ceremony with the OYEP youth graduates

Vanderwell Supports Inaugural OYEP Alberta Youth Camp

Vanderwell Contractors

This summer Vanderwell Contractors, along with West Fraser, Alberta Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, Canfor and Millar Western, supported the first annual Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) in Alberta.  Vanderwell, along with the above forestry companies have committed 4 years of funding to support the annual OYEP program in Alberta.  This summers’ camp was based out of Lubicon Lake at the Mihkowapikwaniy Cultural Preserve and Camp. 

Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP) is a local, community driven initiative that works towards equity and opportunity for Indigenous Youth through land-based education, training and work opportunities. Developed in 2000 as a forestry training initiative, OYEP has grown a nation-wide opportunity with a network of over 500 graduates from 103 communities across Canada.

OYEP Website

OYEP is a six week work-experience program, providing training and education where the youth are fully immersed in a natural, resource-based work culture.  They achieve various safety and training certificates as well as hands on work opportunities, delivered in a regionally and culturally relevant curriculum.

Vanderwell donated lumber towards a Construction and Building Techniques Project at Mihkowapikwaniy where the youth planned and built a permanent wood shed.  The youth toured the Vanderwell mill site and engaged in a session on forestry/sawmill based employment and opportunities.

Vanderwell congratulates the 20 graduates from this year’s program who are representing 13 different Alberta communities.  We look forward to continued success of this program within the region and the province of Alberta as it grows in the future years.

*Feature Image: (Left) Youths’ building a woodshed with Vanderwell lumber, (Middle) Vanderwell mill tour, (Right) Closing Ceremony with the OYEP youth graduates

Vanderwell Achieves SFI Certificate of Registration

Vanderwell Contractors

We are pleased to have met the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) requirements in our Forest Management Standard, and our Fiber Sourcing Standard.

The Scope of Certification covers our forest management activities (planning, harvesting and construction, silviculture and transportation) on selected area and volume-based forest tenures, and the fiber sourcing program that acquires roundwood to support our forest products facility located in Slave Lake, AB.

Click here for more information on the SFI Program.

Congratulations to our Woodlands department!

Welcome To Our New Website

Vanderwell Contractors

To All Our Valued Customers and Friends

Welcome to our Website!

We hope that this will be a way for you to learn more about our Company, our History, and Our Values.

Dedicated to Our Customers, Employees, and Community.