Oilsands executives and Alberta premier to try and adjust Canada’s energy image in U.S. capital
The alliance is proposing a multibillion-dollar carbon capture and storage system that would collect those emissions from more than 20 oilsands facilities.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and oilsands industry executives are in the U.S. capital as part of a fresh push to rehabilitate the public image of Canada’s fossil fuels.
At the core of their effort is the Pathways Alliance, a coalition of oilsands producers — originally christened the Oil Sands Pathway to Net Zero Alliance — with an ambitious and expensive plan to capture and store all of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
So-called “in-situ” producers, which these days comprise the bulk of oilsands production, inject steam into the ground to liquefy the bitumen, making it easier to extract. The emissions are a byproduct of burning natural gas to generate the steam.
The alliance is proposing a multibillion-dollar carbon capture and storage system that would collect those emissions from more than 20 oilsands facilities, transporting and storing them deep in the porous soil and rock of the Canadian Prairies.
That’s the long-term goal, with the aim of capturing 20 million tonnes of emissions a year by 2030. The immediate goal is to convince the world, beginning with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, that the oilsands can be part of the solution to climate change instead of part of the problem.
“Right now, we have a label of, ‘Canada has dirty oil,'” said Rhona DelFrari, chief sustainability officer at Cenovus Energy, one of the six Canadian producers that comprise the alliance, representing 95 per cent of all oilsands production.
“We want to completely erase that label and instead have people around the globe saying, ‘Canada is producing oil like the rest of the world should be producing oil.'”
It won’t be cheap: DelFrari said the industry expects a final tab of about $2.5 billion a year between now and 2050, including roughly $20 billion to meet that initial target of storing or otherwise eliminating 20 million tonnes of emissions by 2030.
And companies have already indicated that they won’t foot the bill alone.
Suncor reported quarterly profits of $2.95 billion, up from $821 million during the first quarter of 2021. Cenovus earned $1.6 billion in the same period, up from $220 million last year. And a 68 per cent revenue surge helped MEG Energy Inc. to cash-flow records and $362 million in quarterly earnings.
But the federal and provincial governments are also beneficiaries of a healthy oilpatch, and stand to gain from one that can reduce emissions while continuing to produce energy, said Mark Cameron, the alliance’s vice-president and senior adviser.