GHG emissions reduction program

Corporate Responsibility

GHG emissions reduction program

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

  • carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and sequestration/storage and utilization;
  • carbon conversion and energy related products;
  • methane emissions reduction projects;
  • natural gas production as a lower emissions intensity energy source;
  • fuel and natural gas conservation; and
  • flaring and venting reduction projects.

These programs focus on use of technology and continuous performance improvement 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 governments on evolving policy and regulations. Collaboration is essential to achieving long-term emissions reductions. Together with a broad group of industry sectors, academia and governments, we are sharing technologies and working to find innovative solutions.

CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS)

Canadian Natural is a leader in CCS projects. We are taking waste CO2 from our operations and using it as an input to improve performance and create value. Our CCS initiatives will capture 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 annually, making Canadian Natural a top tier owner of CCS capacity in the world (based on data from the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute). Our projects include CO2 sequestration in tailings, geological sequestration (Quest Project) and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques.

  • 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 project.

    The Quest CCS facility is part of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) of which Canadian Natural owns a 70% interest. In less than four years, Quest has exceeded expectations with four million tonnes of CO2 permanently captured and safely stored — the same as the annual emissions from one million cars. Watch this video on how CCS works.
  • Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).

    We are a 50% partner in the North West Redwater (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery, the first refinery in the world to incorporate carbon capture from the outset. Gasification technology will capture the CO2 produced during the refining process, creating high value, low CO2 products. The NWR is expected to capture and store 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 annually for use in EOR when fully online in 2019.
  • At our Hays gas plant in Taber (southeast Alberta), we capture 13,000 tonnes of produced CO2 per year for use in our nearby Enchant EOR operations. EOR allows access to an additional two million barrels of crude oil that would otherwise have been left in the reservoir.
Canadian Natural a major owner of carbon capture and storage technology

Carbon conversion and energy related products

Technology is enabling innovative ways to capture valuable elements required for energy storage from our product stream. For example, we are working with Titanium Corporation to evaluate the potential deployment of their froth treatment tailings technology to recover bitumen, solvents and minerals, such as solvent, zircon and titanium, from the tailings stream.

Since 2016, we have been capturing the off-gas (natural gas liquids and olefins) produced at the Horizon upgrader through our partnership with Inter Pipeline Ltd., reducing GHG and SO2 emissions. The liquids extracted are transported via pipeline to Inter Pipeline’s Redwater facility. The remaining gas, now cleaner, is sent back to our upgrader, mixed with natural gas and then used as lower emissions fuel. In 2018, we avoided more than 115,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The Inter Pipeline Liquids Extraction Plant at Horizon

Leading in methane emissions reductions

Reducing methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective ways to decrease GHG emissions. Through solution gas conservation projects in our Alberta primary heavy oil operations, we decreased venting volumes by 72% from 2014 to 2018, significantly reducing methane emissions. With 4,000 pneumatic controller retrofits planned for 2018 and 2019, we target additional reductions of up to 400,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent/year. These projects put us on track to meet the governments’ 45% reduction target in absolute methane emissions by 2025.

Fugitive emissions

We continuously improve monitoring and detection of emissions at pipe connections and valves to reduce fugitive emissions. Our Fugitive Emission Management and Control (FEMC) program helps us identify gas leaks and prioritize repairs and maintenance programs for more than 200 facilities. Comprehensive leak detection and repair (LDAR) surveys use an infrared leak imaging camera and Hi Flow Sampler to detect and quantify fugitive emissions.

By improving our understanding of fugitive methane emission sources, we can increase efficiencies, reduce emissions and support best practices. We collaborate with industry groups, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and government to develop better LDAR technologies for conventional and oil sands operations more quickly and cost-effectively. For example, we are working with Emissions Reduction Alberta in a fugitive emissions monitoring campaign in the oil sands.

Compressor unit at heavy oil operations

Natural gas production as a lower emission intensity source

Canadian Natural’s natural gas assets are an important part of our balanced portfolio. Natural gas is a reliable and affordable energy source for power generation, with less than half the carbon footprint of coal. Canada can help reduce net global emissions by supplying Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to global markets. These emissions reductions should receive recognition domestically and internationally as contributing towards Canada’s climate change commitments.

Natural gas electricity also supports the development of renewable sources of energy. Together, all these energy sources will contribute to the global energy mix needed to meet the world’s growing energy needs.

Innovative practices to achieve operational efficiencies

Being innovative involves 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 $90 million to reduce natural gas venting in our primary heavy crude oil operations, conserving the equivalent of 16.8 million tonnes of CO2e. This volume of natural gas conserved is equal to removing 3.6 million passenger vehicles from the road over the same period. We reduce venting in our heavy oil operations through efficient management of more than 1,000 compressors used for gas conservation, proactive tie-in of multi-well pads and continuous improvement in facility design.
  • Steam efficiencies reduce energy consumption.

    At our thermal operations, enhanced steam production helps recover more crude oil with less steam, reducing GHG emissions and energy costs. Projects that reduce steam-to-oil (SOR) ratio include solvent co-injection with steam into the reservoir and co-injection of produced gas (like methane) and steam to help maintain pressure and increase recovery. Co-injection helps reduce sulphur dioxide and CO2 emissions from steam generation.
  • With the installation of vacuum insulated tubing (VIT) at Kirby South and North we are also reducing heat loss while maintaining production volumes. Additionally, as less steam is needed, water use is also reduced. For more information on these projects, read our Technology and Innovation Case Studies.
  • 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 re-use of waste heat. Through this process, we simultaneously produce electricity and heat from a single fuel source to meet steam and electricity demands. By recycling the waste heat for re-use, we help reduce GHG emissions because our energy consumption is lower than it would be if we produced electricity and heat energy separately.
  • Hydroelectricity.

    At the Septimus and Noel natural gas processing plants in British Columbia (BC), hydroelectricity powers the electric compressor motors. Septimus has avoided a total of 420,437 tonnes of CO2e since start-up in 2011, while Noel avoided 73,792 tonnes since we gained ownership of the plant in 2014.
  • Fuel efficiency.

    Several of our natural gas plants in 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). This technology lowers emissions and increases engine efficiency by 15% on average. BC’s provincial offset standards and carbon pricing are helping drive this innovative offset project.
  • Flaring reductions.

    Flaring reduction programs are a focus in our offshore operations. We also run a fuel gas import project at our North Sea operations to reduce diesel consumption through improvements on gas compression.

Collectively, our portfolio of technology projects will continue to drive GHG emissions reductions. Read about our innovative projects to reduce emissions in our Technology and Innovation Case Studies.

Horizon power and steam generation plant duplicates the existing power and steam generation capacity needed to support our production.