Oil sands companies come together for Net Zero initiative
Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy have formally announced the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative.
These companies operate approximately 90 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production.
“The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative is an industry driven, made-in-Alberta solution which will strengthen our position as global ESG leaders,” said Sonya Savage, Alberta’s Minister of Energy. “Every credible energy forecast indicates that oil will be a major contributor to the energy mix in the decades ahead and even beyond 2050. Alberta is uniquely positioned and ready to meet that demand. This initiative will also pave the way for continued technological advancements, ultimately leading to the production of net zero barrels of oil.”
The goal of this alliance, working collectively with the federal and Alberta governments, is to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil sands operations by 2050 to help Canada meet its climate goals, including its Paris Agreement commitments and 2050 net zero aspirations.
- This collaborative effort follows welcome announcements from the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta of important support programs for emissions- reduction projects and infrastructure. Collaboration between industry and government will be critical to progressing the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero vision and achieving Canada’s climate goals.
- The Pathways vision is anchored by a major Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) trunkline connected to a carbon sequestration hub to enable multi-sector ‘tie-in’ projects for expanded emissions reductions. The proposed CCUS system is similar to the multi-billion dollar Longship/Northern Lights project in Norway as well as other CCUS projects in the Netherlands, U.K. and U.S., all of which involve significant collaboration between industry and government.
- The Pathways initiative is ambitious and will require significant investment on the part of both industry and government to advance the research and development of new and emerging technologies.
- The companies involved look forward to continuing to work with the federal and Alberta governments, and to engaging with local Indigenous communities in northern Alberta to make this ambitious, major emissions-reduction vision a reality so those communities can continue to benefit from Canadian resource development.
“As proud Canadian companies, members of the Pathways alliance share the aspiration of Canadians to find realistic and workable solutions to the challenge of climate change,” states the press release. “The oil sands industry is a significant source of GHG emissions and the initiative will develop an actionable approach to address those emissions, while also preserving the more than $3 trillion in estimated oil sands contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 30 years. The initiative will create jobs, accelerate development of the clean tech sector, provide benefits for multiple other sectors and help maintain Canadians’ quality of life.”
The members of the Pathways alliance will do their part by “making the economic investments needed to ensure that our companies successfully make the transition to a net zero world, and hence, deliver long-term value to shareholders,” according to the joint press release.
Because there is no single solution to achieving net zero emissions, the initiative incorporates a number of parallel pathways to address GHG emissions, including:
- A core Alberta infrastructure corridor linking oil sands facilities in the Fort McMurray and Cold Lake regions to a carbon sequestration hub near Cold Lake via a CO2 trunkline. The trunkline would also be available to other industries in the region interested in capturing and sequestering CO2. There is also potential to link the infrastructure corridor to the Edmonton region.
- Deploying existing and emerging GHG reduction technologies at oil sands operations along the corridor, including CCUS technology, clean hydrogen, process improvements, energy efficiency, fuel switching and electrification.
- Evaluating, piloting and accelerating application of potential emerging emissions-reducing technologies including direct air capture, next-generation recovery technologies and small modular nuclear reactors.
In addition to collaborating and investing together with industry, it is essential for governments to develop enabling policies, fiscal programs and regulations to provide certainty for this type of long-term, large-scale investment, states the group. This includes dependable access to carbon sequestration rights, emissions reduction credits and ongoing investment tax credits.
“We look forward to continued collaboration with both the federal and Alberta governments to create the regulatory and policy certainty and fiscal framework needed to ensure the economic viability of this initiative.”