Alberta is an innovator and leader when it comes to the environment. We collaborate, we progress and we constantly improve.
What we haven’t done well is tell people about it. Today I hope to provide you with more specific examples and more context you can share with your friends and family. Here are 15 reasons why we are leaders and we should be proud of our valuable and in-demand natural resources. Global demand is increasing and Albertans deserve the best price globally for our product.
- Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to pass climate change legislation in April 2007 requiring large emitters to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This program is estimated to reduce GHG emissions by 11.8 megatonnes by 2020.(http://ccemc.ca/about/#sthash.zPTZ65LZ.dpuf)
- The province is the only top ten oil reserve country, and the only major supplier to the United States, that has passed legislation of this type.
- Alberta’s Specified Gas Emitters Regulation identifies facilities emitting more than 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. These organizations are then required to retrofit facilities to bring their emissions down below the specified threshold, or purchase Alberta-based carbon offset or performance credits. (http://ccemc.ca/about/)
- MEG Energy produces about 2% of Alberta’s electricity through natural gas co-generation which enables each barrel of oil produced to be among the lowest of average U.S. import crudes on the lifecycle GHG basis (well-to-wheels). (Source: Jacobs Consultancy. Life Cycle Assessment of North America and Imported Crudes. 2009.)
- Projects like Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie Evaporator will do even more to reduce waste in the province’s natural resource extraction and processing processes. This high efficiency evaporator system gathers an additional 100,000 pounds of steam per hour from Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie facility to generate 23 megawatts of electricity, for a reduction of 406,552 tonnes of GHG’s by 2020. (http://www.pulpandpapercanada.com/news/evaporator-for-grande-prairie-completes-mill-upgrades-1000725530)
- Collaboration drives innovation and that’s why the Canadian oilsands industry started The “Canadian Oilsands Innovation Alliance”, one of the greatest examples of collaboration found among “competing” companies in the world. To date, COSIA member companies have shared 777 distinct technologies and innovations that have cost over $950 million to develop. These numbers are increasing as the alliance matures and expands. Through this sharing of innovation and application of new technologies, members can accelerate the pace of environmental performance improvements.
- Canada is home to two of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage projects including one in Alberta. The province will contribute $300 for every Alberta citizen towards Shell’s Quest project, which is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by one million tonnes per year — the equivalent of removing 175,000 cars from the road each year. (https://www.cosia.ca/carbon-capture-and-storage)
- The oil sands industry has planted over 12 million trees, as part of efforts to reclaim land. It’s important to challenge those that only show photos of oilsands mining operations as this represents the production method for 3% of the land area and ignores reclamation efforts and reclamation guidelines. To date, 20% of this amount has been disturbed in 50 years of operations. (http://oilsands.alberta.ca/reclamation.html)
- Oil sands information transparency is unparalleled among the world’s top oil reserve countries. In fact, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association has formed an executive task force to support public information disclosure when a pipeline incident occurs. Additionally The oilsands information portal provides the public with information about the impact of the the oilsands on Alberta’s land, water, air, climate, and biodiversity. (http://osqar.suncor.com/2015/04/new-task-force-addresses-transparency.html)
- Alberta companies are coming together to protect traditional caribou habitats. The Algar Project unites a group of companies with Alberta Environment & Sustainable Resource Development and Grande Prairie Regional College in planting 900 spruce trees in areas frequented by caribou and other animals common to Northern Alberta. (http://www.cosia.ca/initiatives/land/faster-forests)
- By law, 100% of oil sands mined land must be reclaimed. Only 3% of oil sands land is surface-mineable. The other 97% is only accessible by insitu technologies which have a similar land footprint to conventional oil and gas production, but a much longer life production profile. (http://oilsands.alberta.ca/reclamation.html)
- To this end, producers are looking at more expedient ways of reclaiming previously forested land. ConocoPhillips has been a particular leader in this regard, partnering with the University of Alberta for the ‘Fast Forests’ program, which launched in 2009, and has led to wider adoption of planting sites soon after disturbance, improved reclamation practices, and the planting of trees and shrubs to accelerate site recovery. (http://www.cosia.ca/faster-forests)
- To combat topsoil erosion and removal, Imperial Oil uses humiliate (a low grade weathered coal) in its leased but inactive sites. Humiliate doesn’t decompose and mimics the portion of natural soil that encourages microbial life and nutrient retention. This represents a major innovation for both the agriculture and energy industries, with as good as, or better, properties for growing crops than natural topsoil. (http://www.cosia.ca/initiatives/land/topsoil-reconstruction)
- All oil sands producers are working to reduce water consumption and increase recycling. Currently 80-97% of water is recycled by oilsands producers. For example, Suncor’s upstream and downstream operations are realizing opportunities for more sustainable water use, to the tune of saving and treating 12 to 35 olympic-size swimming pools per day. (https://twitter.com/suncorenergy/status/642734628843950080)
- Alberta’s post-secondary institutions take oil sands innovation seriously as well. A $25-million research partnership was recently announced between the University of Alberta and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres focusing on cleaner energy production, with an emphasis on the oilsands. (http://www.oilsandstoday.ca/topics/ResearchInnov/Pages/default.aspx