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Biodiversity in action in Canada’s oil sands

December 7, 2022

Efforts by Canada’s oil sands industry to lessen its environmental footprint have resulted in globally significant reclamation and restoration work to support biodiversity in Alberta’s boreal forest.

The industry aspires to be world leaders in land management, restoring the land and preserving biodiversity of plants and animals.

Here are just some examples of biodiversity work underway by Pathways Alliance companies:

Best practice portal

COSIA, the innovation arm of Pathways Alliance, worked with the Canadian Forest Service on a virtual best practices toolkit for forest reclamation.

Millions of trees

3.9 million – the number of trees that have been planted across Canadian Natural’s oil sands mining operations (Horizon and Albian).

Protecting the Canadian toad

Did you know? - Canadian Natural is monitoring Canadian toads at its Horizon site, outfitting them with miniature GPS ‘backpacks’ so that this ‘at risk’ species can be relocated and then tracked.

First tailings facility reclaimed

The first oil sands tailings facility to be reclaimed under Alberta’s new requirements was at Canadian Natural’s Muskeg River Mine. This area now includes streams, wetlands and upland forest areas with hummocks creating a natural wildlife habitat.

Forests of the future

A unique interim reclamation initiative at Cenovus Energy’s Christina Lake oil sands operations promotes biodiversity and encourages regrowth in advance of final reclamation work.

Restoring caribou habitat

This Cenovus Energy project to restore caribou habitat in the oil sands is the largest project of its kind in the world. The program involves restoring up to 4,000 kilometres of linear land disturbances and progressing their tree planting program.

Gamechanging technology

As a result of Cenovus Energy’s work testing and using amphibious vehicles land can be restored in any season, at a faster pace, lower cost and with minimal environmental impact.

Fishing for solutions

Cenovus Energy is improving structures like culverts or replacing them with bridges on roads that cross creeks, streams and rivers near its operations for the benefit of many threatened or endangered fish species.

Faster Forests

Pathways Alliance companies are returning disturbed lands back to nature faster and more efficiently through best practice planting of tree seeds and seedlings.

Surmont boreal reclamation project

Did you know? - ConocoPhillips Canada has partnered with NAIT’s Boreal Research Institute on research that could accelerate the time it takes for disturbed sites to be reclaimed.

Academic research key

ConocoPhillips Canada supports long-term research programs that investigate the effects of industrial disturbance and develop strategies to restore boreal ecosystems which are under pressure from climate change.

Swallow hotel

Imperial set up barn swallow hotels, moving shacks used to house equipment outside active work areas so that swallows nesting inside would not be disturbed.

Wildlife monitoring innovation

Imperial leverages digital tools to provide real-time data that helps inform wildlife management plans.

New home for fish

Imperial creates compensation lakes to replace fish habitat removed for mining. These lakes are self-sustaining bodies of water that support thriving aquatic ecosystems.

Ensuring native plants return

The number of years Suncor has been monitoring its reclaimed sites to ensure the return of native plant species.

Mining’s impact on wilderness

0.2% - the percentage of Alberta’s boreal forest disturbed by oil sands mining over the past 40 years.
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Cautionary Statement: Statements of future events or conditions in this press release, including projections, targets, expectations, estimates, and business plans are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as achieve, aspiration, believe, anticipate, intend, propose, plan, goal, seek, project, predict, target, estimate, expect, forecast, vision, strategy, outlook, schedule, future, continue, likely, may, should, will and/or similar references to outcomes in future periods. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, references to the viability, timing and impact of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative collaboration and the development of pathways in support of a net-zero future; support for the pathways from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada; the ability to enable net zero emissions from oil production and preserve economic contribution from the industry; the continued role of fossil fuels as part of a diversified energy mix; and the deployment of technologies to reduce GHG emissions, such as CCUS, process improvements, energy efficiency, fuel switching, electrification, infrastructure corridors and new emissions-reducing technologies. All net-zero references in this announcement apply to emissions from oil sands operations (defined as scope 1 and scope 2 emissions).

Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions at the time the statements are made. Actual future results, including expectations and assumptions concerning: demand growth and energy source, supply and mix; amount and timing of emissions reductions; the adoption and impact of new facilities or technologies, including on reductions to GHG emissions; project plans, timing, costs, technical evaluations and capacities, and the ability to effectively execute on these plans and operate assets; that any required support for the pathways from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada will be provided; applicable laws and government policies, including climate change and restrictions in response to COVID-19; production rates, growth and mix; general market conditions; and capital and environmental expenditures, could differ materially depending on a number of factors. These factors include global, regional or local changes in supply and demand for oil, natural gas, and petroleum and petrochemical products and the resulting price, differential and margin impacts; political or regulatory events, including changes in law or government policy and actions in response to COVID-19; the receipt, in a timely manner, of regulatory and third-party approvals including for new technologies; lack of required support from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada; environmental risks inherent in oil and gas exploration and production activities; environmental regulation, including climate change and GHG regulation and changes to such regulation; availability and allocation of capital; availability and performance of third-party service providers; unanticipated technical or operational difficulties; project management and schedules and timely completion of projects; reservoir analysis and performance; unexpected technological developments; the results of research programs and new technologies, and ability to bring new technologies to commercial scale on a cost-competitive basis; operational hazards and risks; general economic conditions, including the occurrence and duration of economic recessions; and other factors referenced by the companies’ in their most recent respective annual reports and management’s discussion and analysis, as applicable.

Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, some that are similar to other oil and gas companies and some that are unique to the companies. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by its forward-looking statements and readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on them. The companies undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release, except as required by applicable law.