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Pathways Alliance focuses on suite of technologies to advance net zero plan

Picture of scientists working in a lab November 10, 2022

CALGARY – Nov. 10, 2022 The Pathways Alliance, representing Canada’s largest oil sands producers, has released additional details on plans to progress innovative technologies to reduce emissions, as part of its unprecedented multi-phased plan to achieve the goal of net zero by 2050.

The list of technologies underscores the Alliance’s collaborative work to help Canada achieve its climate commitments, which is being showcased as part of the official Canadian delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

“Oil sands companies are advancing new and existing technologies with a range of leading national and international research and development organizations, unlocking new approaches to significantly reduce CO2 emissions,” said Kendall Dilling, president of the Pathways Alliance.

“Leading-edge technology is one of the most important tools we possess to reduce emissions on a global scale and Pathways Alliance companies have a long track record of world-class research and development (R&D) investments to build on. We look forward to a healthy exchange of ideas with delegates from around the world at COP27.”

Pathways Alliance has pooled scientists, engineers, and other experts from the member companies to execute its plan to reduce absolute CO2 emissions by 22 million tonnes by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. Over and above the construction of a foundational carbon capture network and storage hub by 2030, these industry experts are focused on developing the next generation of GHG-reducing technologies.

Technologies prioritized for Pathways Alliance collaboration and acceleration are:

  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Pathways is currently advancing several CCS technology development projects, including:
    • Piloting next generation technologies, such as those developed by Svante and the use of Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells.
    • Continuous improvement of capture plants to improve energy and cost efficiency.
    • Identifying and developing plans to reduce costs of next generation capture technologies.
    • Evaluating the feasibility of CO2 sequestration in depleted gas fields.
  • Natural Gas Decarbonization and Hydrogen Use to remove a high percentage of carbon from natural gas streams prior to combustion in oil sands facilities. Pathways members are currently:
  • Steam reduction technologies to reduce the need for steam in bitumen production.
    • Pilot of next generation high-concentration solvent technology developed in Imperial’s oil and gas research center
    • Solvent-assisted SAGD optimization

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

With anticipated co-funding support from Canadian governments, Pathways Alliance recently announced plans to invest $24.1 billion before 2030 in the first phase of its plan.

Approximately $16.5 billion will support a proposed carbon capture and storage network in northeastern Alberta that, when constructed, will be among the largest facilities in the world. Another $7.6 billion investment is planned on major emissions reduction projects and technologies.

Between 2012 and 2021, Pathways Alliance’s six member companies invested more than $10 billion on R&D on various technologies. Some of these have helped the industry reduce per barrel CO2 emissions by about 20% between 2009 and 2020, according to S&P Global.

Formed in 2021, Pathways Alliance is a collaboration between Canadian Natural, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, Imperial, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy, which together operate approximately 95 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production.

Canadians can learn more about Pathways Alliance’s plan and its unprecedented level of collaboration to develop and deploy technologies to reduce emissions by visiting https://pathwaysalliance.ca.

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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.