Ottawa Citizen - - FP MARKETS -

Canada’s oil and gas sec­tor is on a mis­sion to con­tin­u­ously im­prove its record on en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­ward­ship. But it is not enough to work to­ward bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance year over year; it is about iden­ti­fy­ing where chal­lenges still ex­ist and tak­ing the nec­es­sary steps to over­come them.

To do that, the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Pe­tro­leum Pro­duc­ers (CAPP) ini­ti­ated the Re­spon­si­ble Cana­dian En­ergy (RCE) pro­gram. Launched in 2010, RCE is a col­lec­tive com­mit­ment by CAPP mem­bers to de­velop and ap­ply strin­gent guide­lines and pro­cesses to their op­er­a­tions, to mea­sure and report per­for­mance re­lat­ing to peo­ple, air, land and water, and to en­gage with the com­mu­ni­ties in which they work.

“One of the chal­lenges that we have as an or­ga­ni­za­tion is find­ing, de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing ap­pro­pri­ate met­rics that ac­cu­rately re­flect our per­for­mance,” says Scott Meakin, man­ager of cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity for CAPP. “Through RCE we are en­deav­our­ing to show our stake­hold­ers that we are work­ing prag­mat­i­cally and dili­gently to get bet­ter at what we do.”

Each year, CAPP pub­licly demon­strates in­dus­try accountability and com­mit­ment in th­ese ar­eas with the re­lease of an RCE Progress Report that pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on in­dus­try per­for­mance for the pre­vi­ous year.

The pur­pose of the report is to put data and trends into con­text, and to gain an un­der­stand­ing of where im­prove­ments are needed. In­for­ma­tion is re­ported by 100% of CAPP oil-and-gas pro­duc­ing mem­ber com­pa­nies. CAPP’s mem­bers find and pro­duce about 90% of Canada’s oil and nat­u­ral gas.

Prior to publi­ca­tion, the RCE Progress Report is re­viewed by an in­de­pen­dent ad­vi­sory group made up of se­nior ex­perts and stake­hold­ers rep­re­sent­ing the safety, en­vi­ron­ment, labour, abo­rig­i­nal, aca­demic, pri­vate, fi­nance and in­vest­ment sec­tors. Feed­back from the ad­vi­sory group re­view is made pub­lic, and it chal­lenges the in­dus­try to re­spond to rec­om­men­da­tions, man­age its risk and im­prove per­for­mance.

Per­for­mance high­lights from the re­cently re­leased 2012 RCE Progress Report show im­prove­ments in a num­ber of ar­eas and a need for more ac­tion in oth­ers:


Ama­jor ben­e­fit of oil and gas ac­tiv­ity is the so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fit that it brings to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and to peo­ple across the coun­try. From Bri­tish Columbia and Al­berta, to New­found­land and Labrador, more than 550,000 Cana­di­ans were di­rectly or in­di­rectly em­ployed in sup­port of the oil and gas in­dus­try in 2011.

Gov­ern­ments col­lected $20-bil­lion in taxes and roy­al­ties, which helped to sup­port com­mu­ni­ties large and small. In the oil sands re­gion, abo­rig­i­nal com­pa­nies ben­e­fit­ted from con­tracts val­ued in ex­cess of $762-mil­lion.


Air qual­ity met­rics in­di­cate a mul­ti­year down­ward trend in sul­phur diox­ide (SO2) and ni­tro­gen ox­ide (NOx) emis­sions by the in­dus­try (9% and 6% re­spec­tively), de­spite an in­crease in op­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties and pro­duc­tion. SO2 and NOx emis­sions are pro­duced al­most ex­clu­sively from com­bus­tion ac­tiv­i­ties where fuel is burned to power equip­ment at oil and gas op­er­a­tions.

“Some of the pro­cesses and tech­nolo­gies that have been ap­plied to op­er­a­tions over the last decade have re­sulted in on­go­ing and con­tin­u­ing de­clines in th­ese two air pol­lu­tants,” Mr. Meakin says. “The re­sult is a re­duc­tion in ab­so­lute SO2 emis­sions by 37% since 2007 and a fifth con­sec­u­tive year ofNOxde­cline.”


The oil and gas in­dus­try is com­mit­ted to pro­gres­sively re­claim all lands af­fected by op­er­a­tions and re­turn them to self-sus­tain­ing land­scapes. Per­for­mance met­rics in­clude the num­ber of ac­tive, in­ac­tive, aban­doned and re­claimed wells, as well as the to­tal area in the oil sands that is be­ing re­claimed.

In 2011, 50% of the more than 32,000 aban­doned con­ven­tional wells in West­ern Canada were un­der­go­ing recla­ma­tion/re­me­di­a­tion. Twenty-three per cent are in the mon­i­tor­ing/as­sess­ment phase and are ex­pected to be com­pleted within the next three years. The re­main­ing 27% are be­ing risk-man­aged or held for fu­ture po­ten­tial. While the ac­tive foot­print of oil sands min­ing op­er­a­tions in­creased 7% from the pre­vi­ous year, 10% of that foot­print is cur­rently in the recla­ma­tion process (7,607 hectares). That per­cent­age is con­sis­tent with 2010.


One of the pri­mary RCE ob­jec­tives for water is to con­tinue to re­duce the amount of fresh water re­quired per bar­rel equiv­a­lent of pro­duc­tion.

“As a grow­ing in­dus­try we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­duce our ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment,” says Tara Pay­ment, man­ager of water and recla­ma­tion for CAPP.

“Water qual­ity and quan­tity are im­por­tant is­sues for stake­hold­ers, so they are im­por­tant to us. We want to demon­strate that we are com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing water re­sources and to re­spon­si­ble water man­age­ment.”

CAPP mem­bers con­tin­u­ously work to im­prove water re­cy­cling rates, to use al­ter­na­tives to fresh water such as sa­line ground­wa­ter, and to de­velop new and in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies to min­i­mize water use.

The re­sult is a con­tin­u­ing de­cline in water us­age per bar­rel of oil or bi­tu­men pro­duced: Oil sands in situ pro­duc­tion with­drew 0.4 bar­rels of fresh water per bar­rel of bi­tu­men pro­duced, con­sis­tent with the past three years and the best ra­tio achieved to date; con­ven­tional oil pro­duc­tion with­drew 0.7 bar­rels of fresh water per bar­rel of oil pro­duced, the best ra­tio in the last three years; and oil sands min­ing with­drew 2.7 bar­rels of fresh water per bar­rel of bi­tu­men pro­duced, the best ra­tio achieved in the past five years.

Although water re­cy­cling rates have been achieved in oil sands and con­ven­tional oil (80 to 95%, typ­i­cally), CAPP mem­bers re­ported that hy­draulic frac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions re­cy­cled five per cent of water in 2011, a num­ber tar­geted for im­prove­ment.

To that end, the in­dus­try is ad­vanc­ing re­search ini­tia­tives and it has devel­oped and adopted guid­ing prin­ci­ples and op­er­at­ing prac­tices for hy­draulic frac­tur­ing to ad­dress the is­sue. CAPP mem­ber con­for­mance with th­ese op­er­at­ing prac­tices will be mea­sured and re­ported in the 2013RCEProgress Report.

“Water is crit­i­cal to our in­dus­try,” says Ms. Pay­ment. “Con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment is chal­leng­ing and will re­quire even greater in­no­va­tion, but it is about rais­ing the bar for the in­dus­try and show­ing accountability in all that we do.”

Terra Nova ves­sel, off­shore New­found­land and Labrador, left, oil pump­jack, Dalum, Alta., in situ oil op­er­a­tion, Wolf Lake, Ata., oil sands pro­duc­tion, Low­erAthabasca River, Alta. Canada’s oil and gas sec­tor works con­tin­u­ously to im­prove its ap­proach to en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­ward­ship; an ap­proach that in­cludes iden­ti­fy­ing ar­eas where it can im­prove on per­for­mance.

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