Our research projects also provide benefits outside our company’s boundaries. As part of our commitment to collaboration, and research and development, Canadian Natural is a founding member and active participant in Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). Through COSIA, Canadian Natural, along with another 12 oil sands operators, is sharing valuable R&D information and technologies. This is an unprecedented collaboration effort to improve industry’s environmental performance in the course of our operations.
Participating companies collaborate and share the most innovative approaches and best thinking with respect to environmental challenges facing the industry with a focus on four Environmental Priority Areas (EPAs) – tailings, water, land management and greenhouse gas reduction. Collectively, COSIA’s 13 members have shared 814 distinct technologies to date, representing almost $1.3 billion to develop, allowing each company to benefit from the research and development of their partners.
COSIA members are developing the knowledge, practices and technology to improve their collective performance. For example, members with mining operations reduced their net water use intensity from the Athabasca River and its tributaries by 30 per cent in 2014 compared with 2012 figures. And members with in situ operations reduced their fresh water use intensity by 36 per cent in 2014 compared to a 2012 baseline.
Canadian Natural is participating in all of COSIA’s EPAs and leading 20 projects that include:
- Use of carbon dioxide to treat tailings (for more information, read our 2015 Stewardship Report to Stakeholders)
- Developing a reliable model for pipelines to transport thickened tailings, while reducing water consumption and tailings footprint (see full story on COSIA’s website)
- Aspen regeneration (reclamation project at Horizon)
- A study on CO2 conversion technologies that will reduce carbon footprint (more details are available in COSIA’s latest performance update)
Converting carbon into usable products
Climate change and further reductions of greenhouse gas emissions are issues that Canada’s oil and natural gas industry takes seriously. Technological advances over the past two decades have enabled a 32 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions intensity for every barrel of oil produced in Alberta’s oil sands compared to 1990 levels. Those efforts continue today through collaborative partnerships like COSIA to develop innovative solutions to address environmental challenges like climate change.
In September 2015, the US$20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE was announced, challenging the brightest minds and innovators across the world to develop new technologies to manage carbon emissions by converting waste carbon/CO2 into useable products. Over four years, competitors will test their solutions using either a coal or natural gas flue stream at a commercial scale. For more information on this project visit the COSIA website.
GHG reduction is one of COSIA’s focus areas and Canadian Natural has been directly involved with a great deal of the research. To date, our Company has led several GHG-related projects and shared $27.5 million worth of GHG research and data with other COSIA members. The knowledge Canadian Natural gathers from its own testing and research (plus all the information shared by other COSIA members), combined with our continuous improvement processes on site, help ensure that we will continue to see improvements in GHG emission reductions in the years to come.