Opinion Leader: Climate plans will include innovation and technology in Canada’s oil sands

ResearchMoney.com By Kendall Dilling Kendall Dilling is President of the Pathways Alliance. When this year’s United Nations climate change conference (COP27) kicks off in Egypt in early November, Canadian delegates should take pride that they are coming with real solutions to meet Canada’s climate commitments —and the world’s energy security needs. It may come as a…

World’s largest carbon capture and storage networks

Working with governments, the Pathways Alliance brought forward a multi-phased plan, aimed at reducing CO₂ emissions by 22 million tonnes by 2030 in its first phase. A steady course of action will implement operational improvements, and deploy new technologies to achieve our 2050 net-zero goal.

Key to those efforts is one of the world’s largest proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) networks. Located in northeastern Alberta, it will start by sequestering 10-12 million tonnes of CO₂ by 2030, reducing emissions from 14 oil sands facilities. Eventually, our proposed carbon storage hub could see another 30 to 40 million tonnes captured in later parts of our plan.

Pathways Alliance plans to invest approximately $16.5 billion before 2030 in its CCS network, which, when built, will be 10 times larger than any current project in the world. An additional $7.6-billion investment is planned on other emissions reduction projects before the end of the decade, for a total of $24.1 billion.

Engineering, environmental, and regulatory work is well underway on the CO₂ capture and storage facilities, as well as a proposed 400-kilometre pipeline.

The Pathways Alliance was recently given the green light by the Government of Alberta to further evaluate its proposed carbon storage hub in the Cold Lake, Alberta region, which could eventually see more than 1.1 billion tonnes of CO₂ safely stored deep underground in a saline aquifer.

Pathways’ six member companies have assigned some 200 of their brightest minds to work on the Alliance’s net zero plan. Technical working groups have been formed to study and advance more than 70 technologies that could potentially be deployed, to help further reduce emissions in later phases of its plan.

Realistic and achievable targets required

We continue to work with the federal and Alberta governments to ensure Canada’s co-funding programs and CCS regulations are globally competitive, so that our industry emissions reduction targets are realistic and achievable. We remain confident we will get there, and look forward to demonstrating our efforts to align with government plans as we share our intentions with COP27 delegates.

When most people speak of energy transition, they are thinking of transition away from oil and gas. However, transition really means transitioning away from GHG emissions while continuing to provide the energy that the world needs.

We must focus on continued development of renewables and other non-GHG emitting sources of energy. But we also must focus on decarbonizing oil and gas at the same time. So as long as oil and gas are required, reducing their GHG emissions will also play an important role in achieving global climate objectives.

The oil sands industry is working together with an unprecedented level of collaboration between companies and government, Indigenous communities and stakeholders.

We have line of sight to decarbonizing the Canadian oil sands and making Canadian oil the most responsibly developed barrel on the planet. And working together, we will get it done.

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