Canadian Natural manages an industry leading reclamation program. We have received the greatest number of reclamation certificates of any of our peer companies for the past several years. We achieved this level of success through coordinated planning of field work and stable, consistent application of sound reclamation practices. Canadian Natural adapts its reclamation approaches as appropriate for different ecological locations.
At native prairie sites, we focus on minimizing site disturbance throughout the operating stages of the site and at the time of well abandonment. In this way we ensure natural grass species have the opportunity to reestablish on the location. In addition to that, we support native prairie reclamation work through our involvement with academic and government researchers to optimize reclamation practices on oil and natural gas sites.
In the forest zone we work to reestablish a forest ecosystem through effective soil contour and restoration techniques. The use of decompaction equipment and deep tilling equipment to establish microclimates is ideal for tree germination. This ‘leave it rough’ approach is a significant departure from earlier forestry reclamation practices which focused on the planting of grass species to obtain rapid vegetation establishment. However, these quick-to-grow grass species inhibited tree establishment on our well sites. Our forest zone reclamation practices today are much closer to forestry reclamation where we take advantage of natural material, such as coarse woody debris and rough contour, to aid in the establishment of natural systems.
In 2013, 460 inactive wells were abandoned, contributing to a total of 3,371 wells abandoned from 2010 – 2013. We had 334 sites achieve full reclamation certification in 2013. A total of 1971 hectares (ha) of land have been certified between 2010 and 2013.
Important steps in our ongoing reclamation work at Horizon are reforestation and soil salvage programs. Since the beginning of the Horizon project in 2008, we have reclaimed 223 hectares of the 5,500 hectares of land we have disturbed through our mining operations. We are also monitoring the progress of 120,000 spruce seedlings planted throughout these years.
We also reduced our footprint in the oil sands region through our Oil Sands Exploration (OSE) lease reclamation program. OSE sites are used to evaluate the potential oil sands resource base on our leased lands and through the OSE reclamation program we certified 203 sites in 2013. Since 2010 we have submitted 835 OSE sites for reclamation closure for approximately 170 hectares.
Research and Pilots
Canadian Natural understands the importance of reducing our environmental footprint. We participate in ongoing research and technology programs to help learn more about diverse eco-regions and how to best manage each area.
Our actions also include innovative applications of technology and continuous improvements in operational performance. We conduct reclamation pilots to evaluate alternative solutions to landfilling waste, such as on-site enhanced bioremediation (use of micro-organism to remove pollutants) and phytoremediation (use of plants to remove contaminants) of hydrocarbon affected soils.
Canadian Natural participates in Canada’s Oilsands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). COSIA’s Land Environmental Priority Area (EPA) focuses on terrestrial and aquatic reclamation research in the oil sands region. The goal of the Land EPA is to advance research in the areas of reclamation and environmental sciences in a broad range of scientific disciplines from hydrogeology to toxicology.
As part of the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) reclamation research project, Canadian Natural is conducting research on wetland reclamation with the goal to create habitat suitable for peatland species.
Canadian Natural is committed to including stakeholders in our reclamation activities. Learn more about these efforts:
- Environmental planning and monitoring
- Arctic Grayling habitat enhancement at Horizon Lake
- Managing tailings