Research collaboration improving industry performance

Corporate Responsibility

Research collaboration improving industry performance

Collaboration that improves industry’s collective performance is playing an important role in ensuring competitiveness and a sustainable industry that meets Canada’s and the world’s energy needs for the long-term. Our industry was founded on technology and innovation, and joining forces with our peers will help ensure it remains sustainable and productive for years to come.

A number of collaborative efforts have been taking place to harness a common commitment to environmental improvement. By tapping into as much different experience and expertise as possible, Canadian Natural and our peers are making real progress, implementing tangible change.

Our work with COSIA

Canadian Natural is a founding member and active participant in Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). Along with other large producers, we are sharing research information and technologies through an unprecedented collaborative industry effort to accelerate environmental performance improvement. Since its inception in 2012, COSIA members have collectively shared 981 distinct technologies worth $1.4 billion to develop, with a focus on GHG reduction, tailings, water and land.

In 2018, Canadian Natural led 13 partnered and 31 single participant projects, and participated in another 18 COSIA projects. Company research shared to date includes $46 million in GHG technology, $91 million in tailings technology, $72 million in water technology, and $22 million in reclamation technology. Some of the projects we lead at COSIA are:

  • Tailings research. Research projects include carbon dioxide (CO2) to treat tailings, non-segregated tailings (NST) and the Horizon Applied Process Innovation Centre (APIC) research facility. Read our "Tailings Management Technologies" story on pages 7-8 of the 2018 Stewardship Report to Stakeholders.
  • Area fugitive emissions measurement. Canadian Natural is working to enhance the accuracy of GHG emissions measurements from industrial sources, such as the oil sands, to improve emissions reduction strategies. For more information on this project, read our Technology and Innovation case studies.
  • Advancing oil sands reclamation. Projects we lead in support of reclamation efforts are described in our Advancing understanding of reclamation in the oil sands section.
  • Steam quality improvements. Canadian Natural is piloting a method to improve steam measurements and achieve higher steam quality at Primrose. The project can potentially reduce water use and GHG intensity while increasing resource recovery. More information on this project is available on our Technology and Innovation case studies.

Converting carbon into usable products

Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is leading the way in environmental performance and is committed to working together to leverage technology to accelerate performance improvement.

One of the innovative ways to continue to find and explore the potential of new carbon emission reduction technologies is through the US$20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition. This four-and-a-half year global competition challenges the brightest minds and innovators across the world to develop new technologies to manage carbon emissions from industrial facilities by converting waste carbon/CO2 into useable products.

Finalists are delivering unique approaches to the conversion of CO2 emissions into a variety of valuable products, such as enhanced concrete, liquid fuels, plastics and carbon fiber. These breakthrough technologies are being tested at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC), which was funded by the governments of Canada and Alberta, together with industry partners, InnoTech Alberta and the Shepard Energy Centre (a joint venture of ENMAX and Capital Power). Following the competition, this centre will support local technology developers and global companies and researchers, being one of the few places in the world where carbon conversion technologies can be tested on a large, commercial scale. For more information, read our Technology and Innovation case studies.

Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN)

The Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) is an industry-led network launched in 2017 that leverages large-scale collaboration and aligns research and technology priorities. It brings together the entire oil and natural gas industry and the sectors that are necessary to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies (service companies, private and public innovators, think tanks, investors, policy makers and academics) with a vision that Canada is a global leader in producing clean hydrocarbon energy from source to end use. To learn more about CRIN, watch this video.

Other collaborations

For over 20 years, the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) has been facilitating innovation, collaborative research and technology advancement to support the responsible development of Canada’s energy resources. Through PTAC, 500 new R&D projects have been launched to date, worth $310 million. PTAC draws from industry, academia and government expertise to solve some of industry’s biggest challenges, and provide tools and science-based guidelines to run our day-to-day business. Canadian Natural has collaborated with PTAC on projects that improve reclamation methods and reduce venting of natural gas.

In 2018, Canadian Natural also joined the Natural Gas Innovation Fund to support the funding of cleantech innovation and advance technology that will improve environmental performance and reduce GHG emissions in the natural gas sector.

Another example of our collaborative approach is support for early-stage technology research by universities. Research we are funding includes CO2 capture technologies for oil sands operations at the University of Calgary through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), a federal government agency that provides grants for research in natural sciences and engineering. We are also supporting other industrial research at the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, and Athabasca University, in addition to other centres of excellence like Materials and Reliability in Oil Sands (MARIOS) and PTAC.

Canadian Natural is also participating in research to convert algae and CO2 into bio-oil and bio-materials. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and Pond Technologies, a Canadian algae technology company, are leading the Algal Carbon Conversion (ACC) Project and testing this technology at a pilot-scale biorefinery at St Marys Cement plant in Ontario. Canadian Natural will share in the results and evaluate the potential development of a stage two deployment for an oil sands operation.