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Emerging technologies important part of plan to reduce emissions

November 28, 2022

The Pathways Alliance has released a list of innovative technologies that it plans to progress to reduce emissions from oil sands operations. These emerging technologies encompass a broad spectrum of work, everything from supplementing the diesel that powers mine haul trucks with electricity, to exploring the potential of zero emission geothermal energy to heat water used in oil sands mining operations.

Once Pathways Alliance companies can demonstrate that the new technologies and approaches work efficiently, their deployment will have a big impact on emissions reduction in the oil sands—and could be widely applied in other industries in Canada and abroad.

Pathways Alliance members, six oil sands companies that represent about 95 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production, recognize that no single technology will solve the entire emissions challenge. “Leading-edge technology is one of the most important tools we possess to unlock new approaches to significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on a global scale, but a range of solutions is required,” said Kendall Dilling, president of the Pathways Alliance. Partnerships and collaboration is essential to accelerate the time it takes to bring these new technologies to commercial deployment, he said.

Developing innovation is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of science, energy and money, and Pathways Alliance members are building on existing relationships and forming new ones with a wide range of partners to realize next generation clean technologies. These include leading academic institutions, world-renowned research facilities, innovation incubators and other organizations in the innovation ecosystem, and governments. Through collaboration they can achieve industry’s goal to reduce absolute emissions by 22 million tonnes by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.

Pathways companies have also pooled staff resources and expertise – several hundred scientists, engineers, and other experts – to execute on the technology development plan.” “Our members have a long track  record of world-class research and development investments to build on,” Dilling said. Between 2012 and 2021, Pathways companies invested more than $10-billion in technology research and development. Some of these helped industry reduce CO2 emissions per barrel by about 20 per cent between 2009 and 2020, according to S&P Global.

The technologies prioritized for collaboration and acceleration through Pathways Alliance include:

  • Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technology development projects, such as:
    • Piloting next generation technologies, including those developed by Svante and the use of Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells.
    • Continuously improving capture plants to improve energy and cost efficiency.
    • Identifying and developing plans to reduce the cost of next generation capture technologies.
    • Evaluating the feasibility of CO2 sequestration in depleted gas fields.
  • Steam reduction technologies to reduce the need for steam in bitumen production.
    • Piloting next generation high-concentration solvent technology developed in Imperial Oil’s oil and gas research centre.
    • Exploring solvent-assisted optimization of Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) facilities.

The Pathways technology development plan also includes work on other key technologies needed to achieve net zero by 2050 including:

The organization plans to invest $24.1-billion before 2030, with anticipated co-funding support from Canadian governments. Approximately $16.5-billion will support the proposed Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network and $7.6-billion will go towards other major emissions reduction projects and new and emerging technologies.

To learn more about Pathways Alliance and its unprecedented level of collaboration to develop and deploy technologies to reduce emissions by visiting https://pathwaysalliance.ca/cleartheair.

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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.