Canada’s major oil sands producers unite to achieve net zero 2050 carbon emission goals

6/9/2021

CALGARY - Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy formally announced the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative. These companies operate approximately 90% of Canada’s oil sands production. The goal of this unique 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.

Sonya Savage, Alberta Minister of Energy
Sonya Savage, Alberta Minister of Energy

“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 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, UK 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. 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.

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.
Tim McKay, President of Canadian Natural Resources
Tim McKay, President of Canadian Natural Resources

“Canada has an opportunity to lead on climate change by delivering meaningful emissions reductions as well as balancing sustainable economic development,” said Tim McKay, Canadian Natural President. “Canadian ingenuity has enabled oil sands development and with continued innovation, positions Canada to be the ESG-leading barrel to meet global energy demand. We are committed to working together with industry partners and governments to help meet Canada’s climate objectives while providing sustainable long-term economic and social benefits for Canadians from the oil sands.”

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. 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.

Canada is uniquely positioned to be a global leader in responsible oil production. The country has the world’s third-largest oil reserves, some of the most stringent regulations and standards governing energy projects anywhere in the world, a strong track record for technology development and an established reputation of industry working together with Indigenous communities and municipalities. Members of the Pathways initiative believe the most effective way to address climate change is by developing and advancing new technologies and that this unprecedented challenge can and will be solved by Canadian ingenuity, leadership and collaboration.

While alternative energy sources will play an increasingly important role in the decades ahead, all internationally recognized forecasts indicate fossil fuels will continue to be an essential requirement through 2050 and beyond as part of a diversified energy mix, including as a feedstock for carbon fibres, asphalt, plastics and other important products. That’s why it’s critical to take action now to ensure Canada takes its place as a leading supplier of responsibly produced oil to meet the world’s demand for energy well into the future.

 

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