Permafrost Engineering

Naviq Consulting Inc. provides specialist permafrost engineering to governments, mining companies, oil and gas exploration and production companies, pipeline companies, and expert advice to regulatory agencies. Dr. Oswell has worked in the arctic for over 30 years, including supervision of the construction of artificial drilling islands in the Canadian Beaufort Sea in the mid-1980s. Experience includes geothermal modeling to assess the impacts of project construction on the permafrost including potential thaw settlement, permafrost foundation design, frost heave assessment, impacts of climate warming on permafrost regimes, slope instability and erosion control of permafrost terrain. He has considerable experience in the geothermal impacts of sewage treatment structure in permafrost regions.
As an expert in permafrost, Dr. Oswell was a member of the CSA Working Group that developed the standard on Thermosyphon design and monitoring for permafrost conditions and the CSA Working Group on Rehabilitation of foundations impacted by degrading permafrost.

Dr. Oswell also teaches a component of the Permafrost Short Course presented regularly at the University of Alberta. He has also been a guest lecturer on permafrost engineering at the University of Calgary and at PetroChina Company Limited in Langfang and Beijing, PRC.

Selected project experience:

Sewage Lagoon Assessment, Kugluktuk, Nunavut: Senior permafrost engineer assessing municipal engineering team in the evaluation and assessment of leakage from a lined waste water lagoon. Observed distress in the lagoon included seepage from the perimeter berm, subsidence of portions of the berm and longitudinal cracking.dscn0774
Iqaluit Aquatic Centre, Iqaluit, Nunavut: Permafrost engineer providing geothermal modeling and related input for the design of the proposed aquatic centre in Iqaluit. Developed geothermal input parameters and boundary conditions for the geothermal modelling that examined the feasibility of thermosyphons to maintain the subgrade soils in a frozen state over the life of the structure, including the impact of climate warming. The geothermal modeling was complicated by the proximity of an existing structure that would adjoin the proposed aquatic centre.
Raglan Mine, Nunavik, Quebec: Senior permafrost engineer providing on-site and office based support to the expansion of the Xstrata Nickel Mine, including foundation design for a 40 kTPA expansion of ore processing. The mine site is located in the zone of continuous permafrost and is characterized by ice-rich surface sediments and ice-rich igneous bedrock to depths of 8 m.
Nanisvik Naval Facility, Baffin Island: Review engineer assisting geotechnical consultant on issues related to permafrost for the proposed redevelopment and enlargement of an decommissioned deep water port in northern Baffin Island.
Iron Ore Mine, Greenland: Senior permafrost engineer providing input and support to the feasibility stage work related to development of an iron ore mine in central Greenland. Developed detailed scope and specifications for geotechnical investigations to support design of the mine facilities, open pit mine, excavation through an existing glacier and over 50 km or support roaddsc_1059s and railway to a deep water port facility on the Greenland coast.
Scott Polar Research Station, Ross Island, Antarctica: Provided permafrost peer review services and input to risk assessment regarding permafrost aspects of a shallow foundation system for a series of wind turbine towers.
Frozen Muskeg Loading Study: Undertook a study to determine the permissible loading of frozen muskeg by drill rigs in northern Alberta. Organized field sampling of muskeg, ground temperature collection, laboratory testing and numerical modelling to provide estimates of required frozen muskeg thickness and development of a prototype field tool.
Bathurst Inlet Port and Road Environmental Review: Provided permafrost engineering input to a stakeholder review of environmental studies and preliminary engineering plans for a proposed northern all-weather road and port facility.
Ellice L-39 Artificial Island, Beaufort Sea: Project engineer with onsite responsibility for geotechnical aspects during construction. The island was used for exploration drilling of hydrocarbons.
Residential Development, Nizhnevartovsk, Russia: Responsible for planning and supervision of a geotechnical investigation, as well as subsequent analysis and reporting for a North American style community for local production association employees.
Green Island Feasibility Study, Russia: Responsible for the geotechnical component of a feasibility study for the construction of artificial islands on the floodplain of the Ob’ River in western Siberia, Russia. The islands would be constructed by hydraulic fill placement of sands for use as oil production platforms.
Water Treatment Plant, Fort Providence, NT: Project Engineer responsible for field work and report preparation. The site was located adjacent to the Mackenzie River and required assessment of potential permafrost conditions, foundation alternatives, and slope stability.
Group Home, Inuvik, NT: Project Engineer responsible for planning, conducting and report preparation for an elevated structure in Inuvik. The site was previous developed requiring consideration of the potential degradation of the permafrost. Ice-rich clays and highly organic soils were encountered.
School, Pond Inlet, NU: Field Engineer responsible for planning and conducting the geotechnical investigation for a high school. The subsurface conditions consisted of moss underlain by fine sand and bedrock. The permafrost table was typically 0.75 m below grade. Suitable foundation systems included insulated spread footings, or rock socket piles.
Hotel and Convention Facility, Igloolik, NU: Project Engineer responsible for planning, undertaking field drilling program, and reporting for a foundation investigation of a Hotel and Convention Facility. Subsurface conditions consisted of fractured sedimentary bedrock, with ice in-filled fissures. Foundation systems needed to address potential thaw settlement issues.
Ross River RCMP Detachment, Ross River, Yukon: Senior project engineer responsible for coordinating data review, geothermal analysis, foundation design, instrumentation review and report preparation for a structure overlying very warm and thaw sensitive permafrost.

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