Protecting Air Quality

Corporate Responsibility

Protecting Air Quality

Canadian Natural’s integrated emissions reduction strategies comply with requirements for GHG emissions as well as air pollutants such as sulphur oxides (SOx) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX).

Air quality programs are an essential part of our environmental work plan and are operated within regulatory standards and guidelines. We measure our air emissions by conducting specific monitoring at our larger facilities and by participating in regional airshed monitoring.

Monitoring Air Quality

To ensure clean air, our air quality programs focus on reducing emissions, improving performance, and monitoring and tracking air quality. We measure our air emissions by conducting specific monitoring at our larger facilities and by participating in regional airshed monitoring programs.

Site specific, real-time data collection allows us to minimize SO2 emissions at Horizon and Primrose/Wolf Lake operations through a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS). Alberta’s CEMS Code establishes requirements for the installation, operation, maintenance and certification of CEMS to ensure effective measurement, recording and standardized reporting of specified emissions and other parameters. The latest evaluation confirmed that Horizon’s CEMS program is industry leading.

Regionally, airshed monitoring programs assess the ambient air quality by also collecting real-time data and reporting their findings publicly. Alberta’s ambient air quality objectives and guidelines are developed under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA).

Working with stakeholders to monitor air quality

We work with stakeholders near our operations to ensure the air quality is of a high standard. Substantial efforts are underway to monitor air quality near industrial sources, in local communities and downwind of oil sands industrial activities. Air quality in the oil sands region is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year across the region. Canadian Natural is an active participant in the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA), a collaboration of communities, environmental groups, industry, government and Indigenous stakeholders. WBEA manages programs that include air, land and human exposure monitoring, and operates the most extensive ambient air network in Alberta. Real-time ambient air quality data reports are available on its website at

Oil sands emissions effects are decreasing

The latest WBEA Annual Report indicates that the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in the region is very low risk - 96.23% to 98.53% of low risk across the different air monitoring stations, including the Fort McKay community stations’ measurements.

The WBEA has monitored forest health in the region for the effects of oil sands air and dust emissions since 1996. The latest terrestrial report shows that oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions have declined and air quality in the region continues to improve.

For more information, read our 2020 sustainability report.