Canada’s largest oil sands companies have formed a new advocacy group they say will help advance the sustainable development and operation of their industry.
The Oil Sands Alliance was formed on January 1, with oil sands producers Suncor Energy Inc., Cenovus Energy Inc., Imperial Energy Ltd., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. as members. and Conoco Phillips.
It is unclear whether the new organization will be involved in political lobbying or how exactly it will be structured.
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Al Reid, director of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero alliance — which, along with other existing groups like the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA), Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), and Regional Oil Sands Operating Alliance, to be overseen by the new organization – said more details will be released soon.
However, he said all companies involved in the new Oil Sands Alliance will remain active members of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the broader industry organization that is the largest oil and gas lobby group in the world. country.
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While CAPP will continue to have the broader mandate of representing the oil and gas interests of Canada’s oil and gas producers, the new Oil Sands Alliance will “lead the work related to the oil sands.”
“As Canada’s largest petroleum resource, the oil sands present unique challenges and opportunities within the broader oil and gas industry,” Reid said in an emailed statement.
“We know it requires a level of focus and hard work that requires the specialized attention of our own industry group.”
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Reid described the level of collaboration among oil sands producers right now as “unprecedented.”
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As part of the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative – announced last year by the same companies that make up the new Oil Sands Alliance (along with MEG Energy Inc., which is not involved in the new group) – major industry players have publicly committed to working together to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The industry’s vision to achieve this goal is anchored in a proposal for a major carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) transmission line that would capture CO2 from oil sands facilities and transport it to a facility storage facility near Cold Lake, Alberta.
CCUS is a technology that captures greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources and stores them deep underground to prevent them from being released into the atmosphere.
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Proponents say it will be necessary to significantly expand CCUS across the entire oil and gas industry if Canada is to have any chance of meeting its climate goals. The federal government has proposed a tax credit for CCUS projects, and oil sands producers are in discussions with Ottawa on the details of this credit.
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In December, Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix said on a conference call with analysts and reporters that CCUS is not, at this point, a cost-effective technology per se and that any large-scale adoption by industry will require “significant government support”.
In an interview on Friday, Greenpeace Canada’s senior energy strategist, Keith Stewart, said it was clear that the oil sands players had gone all out on “net zero” and that the creation of the new group of advocacy likely aims to help push that message forward and gain government support for carbon capture projects.
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But Stewart said the problem with the term “net zero” is that companies are talking about reducing net emissions from their operations, not reducing their overall fossil fuel production.
“I don’t think anyone should be confused by this particular coat of green paint,” Stewart said of the newly formed industry group, “until they actually change their business plan to align with moving away from fossil fuels in the coming decades”.
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