Following the Paris climate change agreements of December 2015, many thought oil sands production would quickly grind to a halt. However, A recent article in Alberta Venture indicates the confidence of Alberta’s oil sands producers that they will be able to innovate their way into producing more energy that emits less GHGs in the future.
While the GHGs produced per barrel has been reduced through innovation over the last few decades, the oil sands industry continues to grow and has not yet offset its overall growth in emissions. However, “with our political environment, our regulatory environment, our safe and secure supply, our ingenuity,” said Lorraine Mitchelmore, former head of Shell Canada, “we will tackle this challenge.”
The oil sands industry has a history of developing technologies that were thought once to be impossible, and intends to do it again. However, a major barrier to these innovative GHG reducing technologies is money. Due to the high cost of these technologies, many producers have been taking the ‘incremental efficiency approach’. But with new global targets, the pressure is on to reduce emissions intensity faster.
This reality doesn’t scare producers like Cenovus, whose aspirational goal is to “get emissions from our products, from production stage right through to the end use – so that means eventually through to your gas tank – down to zero,” said Cenovus media lead, Brett Harris.
“Our sector’s got a really long track record of innovating to solve tough problems,” said Judy Fairburn of Cenovus,
“And necessity is the mother of invention.”