The biggest oil sands producers in Canada announced on Wednesday a net-zero collaboration initiative to achieve net-zero emissions from oil sands operations by 2050 to help Canada to meet its net-zero aspirations.
The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative includes companies that operate some 90 percent of Canada’s oil sands production. These companies include Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, MEG Energy, and Suncor Energy.
Under the collaborative effort, the companies will work collectively with the federal and Alberta governments to look at ways to reduce emissions from oil sands production, which is one of the most carbon-intensive methods of extracting crude oil.
Canada’s oil sands have the heaviest carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint of oil operations worldwide, independent consultancy Rystad Energy said in an analysis earlier this year.
The high-emission profile and high production costs of the Canadian oil sands industry has prompted international oil majors to divest assets in Canada just after the previous oil price crash in 2015-2016.
The net-zero initiative calls for a major Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) trunkline, which will be connected to a carbon sequestration hub to enable multi-sector ‘tie-in’ projects. The trunkline is planned to link oil sands facilities in the Fort McMurray and Cold Lake regions and be a core infrastructure corridor in Alberta.
The companies will also use other technologies to address emissions, including clean hydrogen, process improvements, energy efficiency, fuel switching, and electrification. The oil sands producers will be evaluating emerging emissions-reducing technologies such as direct air capture, next-generation recovery technologies, and small modular nuclear reactors.
The 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,” they said.
“We are doing more than just talking about the need to play a role – we are taking bold action to address our emissions challenge and earn our spot as the supplier of choice to meet the world’s growing demand for energy,” Cenovus President and CEO Alex Pourbaix said in a statement.