Innovation in Technology
Finding innovative ways to limit environmental impacts plays a big role in meeting our energy needs responsibly. Some of our innovative solutions have been recognized by industry and have received CAPP Responsible Energy Awards, such as our Horizon Compensation Lake, and our Wildlife Management System to prevent wildlife from accessing our tailings pond.
Read our special feature about Canadian global energy leadership in page 15 of our 2011 Stewardship Report to Stakeholders.
Managing the Horizon Tailings Pond
Canadian Natural is using and also researching new processes to reduce the footprint of the Horizon tailings pond and the amount of fresh water required for bitumen processing. These innovative methods will accelerate the process of reclamation, increase water recycling and reduce CO2 emissions.
Since 2009, Canadian Natural has been testing a new process that adds carbon dioxide into the hot tailings lines. We have injected a total of 58,630 tonnes of CO2 in our tailings. The CO2 creates a chemical reaction that allows the solids to settle more quickly. This accelerated settling enables the quick release of clear and warm process water for recycling. In the next phase of development, it is expected that Horizon will capture waste CO2 from our own upgrader for sequestration in tailings.
In addition to our carbon dioxide injection program, Canadian Natural is currently developing and commercializing other tailings technologies including a Mature Fine Tailings (MFT) dewatering technology to produce dry, solid tailings. Another technology we are testing is a Non-Segregating Tailings method that removes the water from the coarse sand and the clay fines. The tailings are stored as dry deposits and the water is stored in a pond for recycling.
This technology investment and research is part of our Tailings Management Plan approved by the ERCB to meet requirements from Directive 74 for fluid fine tailings reduction and formation of solid deposits. Industry continues to work on a Tailings Management Framework to responsibly manage long-term issues on tailings. Learn more about other initiatives included in our Tailings Management Plan:
Canadian Natural is a Member of COSIA
We continue to work collaboratively within our industry group. We believe cooperation leads to a better, more sustainable energy industry. The Oil Sands Tailings Consortium, founded by Canada's largest oil sands mining companies to share tailings research and technology, folded into the new COSIA alliance as one of their four Environmental Priority Areas.
Canadian Natural is one of a dozen major oil sands producers that recently formed a new organization aimed at improving the industry's environmental performance: the Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)
COSIA will focus on delivering responsible and sustainable growth of Canada's oil sands and accelerating improvement in environmental performance through collaboration and innovation. Participating companies will collaborate and share the most innovative approaches and best thinking with respect to environmental issues facing the industry.
The alliance was formed on March 1, 2012 when our Chairman, N. Murray Edwards, and 12 fellow industry leaders met in Calgary to sign the alliance's charter. "For our industry to make strides in innovative technologies concerning environmental performance, we will have to work together to achieve continuous improvement," says Mr. Edwards.
Initially, the focus will be on four environmental priority areas - tailings, water, land and greenhouse gases. COSIA also plans to set environmental performance goals and report publicly on their progress. Tailings technology research at Horizon is among the projects highlighted on their website at www.cosia.ca.
Read more about our innovative projects: