GHG emissions reduction program

Corporate Responsibility

GHG emissions reduction program

Canadian Natural has a defined pathway to drive long-term emissions reductions, which includes:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and sequestration/storage
  • Methane emissions reduction projects
  • Natural gas production as a low carbon supply of energy
  • Fuel and natural gas conservation
  • Flaring and venting reduction projects

These programs focus on use of technology and continuous improvement in operational performance through energy conservation and efficiency. Canadian Natural is working on multiple fronts to reduce our emissions at a company level while working with industry and providing advice to governments on evolving policy and regulations.

Collaboration and continuous improvement are also essential to delivering long-term emission reductions along the pathway to a lower carbon energy future. Together with a broad group of industry sectors, academia and governments, we are sharing technologies and working to find innovative solutions through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA).

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Canadian Natural is a leader in CCS projects, with a CO2 capture capacity. Our CCS initiatives will capture 2.7 million tonnes of CO2, making Canadian Natural the third largest owner of CCS capacity in the global oil and gas sector, based on data from the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. Canadian Natural’s CCS projects include:

  • CO2 sequestration in tailings.

    At Horizon, we continue to reduce GHG emissions intensity and invest in long-term technologies to recover CO2 from our hydrogen plant and add it to our tailings. Read our Managing tailings section for more information on how our CO2 capture technologies are enhancing our tailings management.
  • Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project.

    The Quest CCS facility is part of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) of which Canadian Natural has a 70% ownership interest. In its first two years of operations, Quest capture technology and storage capability have exceeded its target of capturing two million tonnes of CO2. Watch this video on how CCS works.
  • Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).

    At our Hays gas plant in Taber (southeast Alberta), we capture 12,200 tonnes of produced CO2 per year for use in our nearby Enchant EOR operations to increase the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from the field. This process allows access to an additional two million barrels of oil that would otherwise have been left in the reservoir. We are also a 50% partner in the North West Redwater (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery. The NWR is expected to capture 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 annually when fully online in 2018, supplying its CO2 as a feedstock to an independent company specializing in EOR.
  • Carbon conversion.

    Through our partnership with Inter Pipeline Ltd., we are capturing the off-gas produced at Horizon’s upgrader, reducing GHG and SO2 emissions. Click here for more information on this project.

For more information, read Canadian Natural a major owner of CCS technology.

Methane emissions reductions

Reducing methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective ways to decrease GHG emissions. We have decreased venting volumes by 71% from 2013 to 2017 in our Alberta heavy oil through solution gas conservation projects, significantly reducing methane emissions. Our cross-functional Methane Steering Committee (MSC) coordinates methane reduction projects, as well as policy and regulatory development.

The primary upstream sources of methane emissions in our industry are venting (controlled release of gases), fugitive emissions (unintended releases, usually through valves, seals and pipe connections), and to a lesser extent, flaring (controlled burning of natural gas). Learn more about our methane emissions reduction projects.

  • Fugitive emissions

    Our continuous improvement processes lead to better monitoring and detection of emissions at pipe connections and through valve locations, to reduce and manage fugitive emissions. We have a Fugitive Emission Management and Control (FEMC) program in place to identify larger gas leaks and prioritize them for repair, with more than 200 facilities being assessed. The FEMC program includes: regular targeted monitoring on components with a medium to high leak potential, maintenance programs and comprehensive leak surveys of facilities using an infrared leak imaging camera and Hi Flow Sampler to detect and quantify fugitive emissions. We collaborate with industry groups, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and government agencies to better understand fugitive emissions from our operations. To support the development of best practices and improve operational efficiencies, we are collaborating with industry through a joint initiative between the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) to test new technology that accelerates leak detection and repairs, quickly and cost-effectively. Read more about our industry collaborations to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reducer technology

    As part of our initiatives to reduce methane venting in our heavy oil operations, Canadian Natural has developed a Heavy Oil Greenhouse Gas Reducer (HOGGr) for single well battery (SWB) production. The basic function of the HOGGr is to cool the fire tubes in the production tanks by installing a fan between the firebox and flame arrestor in the existing SWB burner management system. By regulating the heat transfer between the fire tubes and oil production, the HOGGr allows for a longer run time of the burner management system during a 24hr cycle, reducing methane venting. A prototype was built by a local vendor and successfully piloted in the fall of 2016. To date, Canadian Natural has installed the HOGGr on 30 SWB setups, resulting in methane emission reductions, and the tool will be evaluated for installation on existing and future SWB wells. Click here to view the proposed HOGGr design assembly.

Natural gas production as a low carbon supply of energy

Natural gas is another integral part of our plan and the pathway to long-term emission reductions and a lower carbon energy future. Canadian Natural is the largest producer of natural gas in Canada representing 25% of our product mix. As a reliable, affordable and lower GHG intensive energy source for power generation, natural gas delivers improved environmental performance as a clean burning hydrocarbon with less than half the carbon footprint compared to coal.

Global demand for natural gas is expected to grow, continuing to be an important source of energy and a way to significantly lower global GHG emissions. Natural gas electricity also supports the development of renewable sources of energy, which together will contribute to the global energy mix needed to meet the world’s growing energy needs. With a diversified and balanced asset portfolio, including vast natural gas resources, Canadian Natural is well positioned to support future energy demand as part of our plan to reduce GHG emissions.

Innovative practices achieve operational efficiencies

Being innovative is more than big step changes; it also involves the way we approach our day-to-day operational practices to increase productivity, achieve energy efficiencies and reduce GHG emissions. Technology and effective operations continue to reduce our emissions intensity.

  • Natural gas conservation.

    Over the last five years, we have invested more than $91 million to reduce natural gas venting in our primary heavy crude oil operations, conserving the equivalent of 17.9 million tonnes of CO2e. This volume of natural gas conserved is equal to removing 3.8 million passenger vehicles from the road over the same period. We reduced venting in our heavy oil operations though efficient management of more than 1,000 compressors used for gas conservation, early tie-in of multi-well pads where solution gas pipelines are installed at the time of drilling (to conserve natural gas from initial production), continuous improvement in facility design and the dedication of our staff to improve processes during periods of low field activity. Read about our natural gas conservation projects.
  • Heat loss prevention.

    At our heavy oil operations, we also conserve heat through the use of a floating, polymer insulator product that prevents heat loss in the heavy oil storage tanks. This insulator decreases fuel consumption and therefore GHG emissions, with a target to reduce CO2 emissions by over 27,000 tonnes CO2/year over a 10-year project life.
  • Heat integration.

    Our Primrose/Wolf Lake (PAW) thermal in situ and our Oil Sands Mining and Upgrading operations incorporate cogeneration plants for heat integration — the recovery and reuse of waste heat. Through this process, we simultaneously produce electricity and heat from a single fuel source as an efficient way to meet steam and electricity demands. By recycling the waste heat for reuse, we help reduce GHG emissions because our energy consumption is lower than it would be if we produced electricity and heat energy separately.
  • Hydroelectricity.

    The Septimus and Noel Natural Gas Processing Plants reduce emissions of CO2, methane and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by using hydroelectricity to drive the electric compressor motors. Septimus has avoided a total of 355,226 tonnes of CO2e since 2011 when it started operating, while Noel avoided 59,949 tonnes since we gained ownership of the plant in 2014. We also use solar power at many remote well sites.
  • Fuel efficiency.

    Several of our natural gas plants in British Columbia (BC) have REMVue units attached to their compressor engines. These units include a fuel management system that tightly controls the mixture of air and fuel gas going into the engine (like modern fuel injection), lowering the emissions created in the process. BC’s provincial offset standards and carbon pricing are helping drive this innovative offset project. Adding this technology has increased engine efficiency by 15% on average.
  • Flaring reductions.

    In our offshore operations, we continue to focus on flaring reduction programs. We also run a fuel gas import project at our North Sea operations to reduce diesel consumption.
  • Steam efficiencies.

    At our Kirby South thermal operations, we apply day-to-day operational efficiencies to reduce the amount of natural gas used for steam generation, subsequently reducing GHG emissions. For example, by reinjecting produced gas into the formation to increase recovery and compensate for pressure loss, we partially offset steam demand and reduce sulphur dioxide and CO2 emissions from steam generation. Also, the use of vacuum insulated tubing (VIT) reduces energy (steam) losses while maintaining production volumes (lower steam-to-oil-ratio), significantly reducing energy costs and GHG emissions. Development plans at the Kirby North in situ thermal project will incorporate the use of VITs, targeting reduction of steam consumption by 25% during the warm-up phase and 10% for the first subsequent years of steam assisted gravity drainage operations.
Horizon power and steam generation plant duplicates the existing power and steam generation capacity needed to support our production.