Press Release: Oil Sands Pathways Alliance outlines three-phase plan to achieve goal of net zero emissions

CALGARY, Alberta, October 21, 2021 – The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative, an alliance between Canada’s five largest oil sands producers, has announced additional details of its plan to achieve the goal of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil sands operations. “As a significant source of Canada’s GHG emissions, we know we must…

Phase 1 (2021 – 2030) – 22 Mt

Phase 2 (2031 – 2040) – 25 Mt

Phase 3 (2041 – 2050) – 21 Mt

*Emissions reductions for each phase are estimates based on current assumptions and may be subject to adjustment.

Because there is no single solution to achieving net zero emissions from oil sands operations, the initiative will employ several parallel pathways and technologies. These include established and proven technologies such as carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) as well as other existing and emerging GHG reduction technologies. This includes switching to lower carbon fuels such as clean hydrogen and electricity to power oil sands operations, implementing advanced production processes and improving energy efficiency at oil sands facilities.

The Pathways initiative will also work to accelerate the development of potential emerging emissions-reducing technologies such as direct air capture of carbon dioxide (CO₂), more efficient next-generation oil sands production technologies and small modular nuclear reactors. The initiative will help preserve jobs in the oil sands sector, which is one of Canada’s largest employers, while also creating thousands of new construction and permanent jobs in the oil and gas and cleantech industries.

In Phase 1 (2021 – 2030), the Pathways initiative will focus on building out a carbon capture network in the oil sands producing region of northern Alberta. This includes plans to install equipment at a number of oil sands plants to capture CO₂ to keep these emissions from entering the atmosphere. At the heart of the network is a proposed carbon transportation line to gather CO₂ from more than 20 oil sands facilities and move it to a proposed hub in the Cold Lake area of Alberta for storage. The line would also be available to other industries in the region interested in capturing and storing CO₂.

To advance the Pathways vision and help Canada meet its climate goals, alliance members are currently developing detailed project plans for Phase 1, including conducting feasibility studies for the CO₂ transportation line and storage hub as well as pre-engineering work for capturing carbon at multiple oil sands facilities.


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, propose, plan, goal, projection, vision, will and/or similar references to outcomes in future periods, including, but not limited to, references to: the viability, timing and impact of the Pathways carbon capture network and its project plans; the development of several pathways and technologies in support of a net-zero oil sands emissions future, including direct air capture of CO₂, more efficient production technologies and small modular nuclear reactors; support for Pathways from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada; achieving net zero (neutral) emissions from oil sands operations by 2050 and preserving economic contribution from the industry; preserving and creating jobs; and the deployment of technologies to reduce CO₂ emissions, including the Pathways carbon capture network, energy efficiency, fuel switching, electrification, infrastructure corridors and other 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 may be materially different and will depend on various assumptions, including those concerning: the continued long-term participation in the Pathways alliance of individual members; the continued role of fossil fuels as part of a diversified energy mix; demand growth and energy source, supply and mix; production rates, growth 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; support for Pathways from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada; applicable laws and government policies, including those related to climate change and restrictions in response to COVID-19; 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.

Pathways Alliance

The Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative consists of Canadian Natural, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy. The companies operate facilities accounting for 90 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production.

As proud Canadian companies, members of the Pathways alliance share the aspiration of Canadians to find realistic and workable solutions to the challenge of climate change. The initiative will develop an actionable approach to address those emissions, while also preserving the more than $3 trillion in estimated oil sands contribution to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the next 30 years. The initiative will create jobs, accelerate development of the clean tech sector, provide benefits for multiple other sectors and help maintain Canadians’ quality of life. The members of the Pathways alliance will do their part by making the economic investments needed to ensure that our companies successfully make the transition to a net zero world, and hence, deliver long-term value to shareholders.

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