Canada’s Largest Oil Sands Producers Commit to Net-Zero Emissions by 2050

Cenovus SAGD - Oil Sands Pathways to Net-Zero Initiative

SAGD Project - Cenovus Energy

Five companies which together account for about 90 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production have announced an unprecedented alliance to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative aims to help Canada meet its climate goals including those commitments made in the Paris Agreements and overall aspirations to reach net-zero within three decades.

Reminiscent of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) – a unique collaboration between competing producers who share innovations and technologies to help reduce impacts on the environment – the initiative is yet another example of our nation's exemplary Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance.

We should be proud of our world-class energy sector and the workers behind the scenes who are continually innovating to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment! Also see:

How Will They Do It?

Alberta Carbon Trunkline (ACTL)

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line - ACTL

Canada’s oil sands majors plan to achieve this goal in the following ways:

  • Collaboration between industry and government to support programs for emission-reducing projects and infrastructure
  • Significant investment from both industry and government to speed up innovation and advance research and development of new clean technologies
  • Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) anchored by a major trunkline that is connected to a carbon sequestration hub to enable multi-sector ‘tie-in’ projects for increased emission reductions
  • Deploying existing and emerging GHG reduction technologies at oil sands operations along the CCUS trunkline corridor such as more CCUS capability, clean hydrogen, energy efficiency, process improvements, fuel switching and electrification
  • Evaluating, piloting and accelerating the application of emerging emission-reducing technologies including small modular nuclear reactors, next-gen recovery technologies and direct air capture
  • Continuing to work with federal and provincial governments as well as Indigenous Peoples so that these communities can continue to benefit from the development of these natural resources

Members of the alliance call on Canadian governments to continue working on policies, programs and regulations that will provide the industry with a level of certainty to coincide with the long-term commitments and large-scale investments on the pathway to net-zero by 2050. Those include:

  • Emission reduction credits
  • Ongoing investment tax credits
  • Dependable access to carbon sequestration rights

Canada’s Advantage

Canada is uniquely positioned to be a global oil supplier of choice. Home to the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves, our nation already enjoys a world-class record on ESG metrics. For example, of the world’s top 10 oil exporters, Canada ranks number one on the following ESG-related indexes:

Canadian oil and gas producers operate under one of the most stringent regulatory regimes in the world and have a proven track record of utilizing new innovation and clean technologies to help reduce environmental impacts.

Members of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative believe that the most effective way to take action on climate is by “…developing and advancing new technologies and that this unprecedented challenge can and will be solved by Canadian ingenuity, leadership and collaboration.

Demand Forecasts

Global Demand Tanker Map Temp - BMO Oil to 2040 Hype - March 2021-03

While non-emission energy sources will play an increasingly important role in the energy transition, all major demand forecasts project that fossil fuels will continue to be an integral part of the global energy system for decades to come.

Sonya Savage, Alberta's Minister of Energy, shared her enthusiasm for the new alliance.

“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. 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,” she said.

As one of the most sustainable, stringently regulated and environmentally responsible oil and gas producers on the planet, Canada needs to take action now to ensure that it will continue to have a part to play in meeting the energy needs of the world well into the future. Also see:

10 Other Facts About Canada's Climate Leadership

Canadian Oil and Gas Accounts for 75 Percent of Clean Tech Invesmtents in Canada Annually

1. From 2000-2018, the emissions intensities of Canada's oil sands operations dropped by 36 per cent (NRC)

2. By 2030, oil sands emissions intensities per barrel produced are expected to drop by another 16 to 23 per cent (IHS Markit)

3. Alberta - home to about 80 per cent of Canada's oil production - is one of the few global oil jurisdictions with mandatory disclosures, regulated emissions protocols and carbon taxes on excess GHGs (BMO)

4. Canada’s oil sands sector has invested more than $9.3 billion into research and development since 2009 – notably higher than other major global oil producers on a per barrel basis (BMO)

5. Between 2015-2019, Canada decreased its total volume of gas flared from oil and gas operations by 42 per cent (Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report: July 2020)

6. Canada was responsible for just 0.67 per cent of the 150 billion cubic metres (m3) of gas flared by oil companies around the world in 2019 (Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report: July 2020)

7. If the rest of the world followed Canada’s flaring standards, total GHG emissions from every barrel produced would drop by 23 per cent

8. Only 10.5 per cent of global crude oil production is subject to carbon pricing, with Canada accounting for about 4.2 per cent of world production (NBF, World Bank, EIA)

9. Canada was the first country in the world to commit to reducing methane emissions from oil and gas production by 45 per cent by 2025 (GoC)

10. Between 2009-2018, major oil sands producers have planted more than 25 million trees as part of reclamation efforts in and around operations (BMO)

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