News and views

Reclaiming the land where we work

November 2017 – We have dedicated self-proclaimed reclamation geeks at Cenovus who get excited about the opportunity to help return land we use in our operations to a flourishing wilderness state.

Dirt and clay are essential ingredients in helping us build our northern Alberta oil sands operations as we use these materials to construct roads to access our sites and build well pads. The areas we take these materials from are called borrow pits, meaning we borrow the clay from the pit to make our roads and well pads.

Our ‘geeks’, or reclamation experts, dive in after we have removed the fill materials, helping to create a landscape with plant vegetation similar to what is found in the area. Often the end result is that our work not only restores, but also encourages the growth of plants and trees that are more desirable for wildlife, helping to contribute to the diversity of animals, insects and species in the area.

Christina Lake Borrow Pit 8

After building up the pond, we spread the woody debris and soil in mounds so vegetation and trees will naturally take hold.

“This past summer we kicked off work to reclaim several borrow pits across our operations,” says Jason Desilets, Reclamation and Remediation Specialist. “I’m really excited to see the diversity of growth in both vegetation and animal species as this project progresses.”

We have four borrow pits of various sizes that have been completely reclaimed and are in various stages of vegetation regrowth. We are also in the planning stages for a fifth one at our Christina Lake operations, Jason says.

With more than 20 years’ experience of working in the oil sands region, we’ve developed an in-house team to ensure we have the expertise to properly plan and execute reclamation at all of our sites. As we continue to focus on being a cost leader, we’ve done all the planning for our next borrow pit internally.

Since Cenovus was created in 2009, the company has received 1,126 reclamation certificates from the Alberta Energy Regulator. In 2017, we’ve submitted an additional 122 reclamation applications for certification.

Sharing our learnings

To help speed the reclamation of disturbed forest in northern Alberta, we created the Oil Sands Exploration visual reference guide. It’s a quick reference booklet with pictures that help construction crews understand the best methods and techniques for aiding reforestation. And we’re sharing it with anyone who’s interested to ensure industry collaboration is taking place to get to the best possible result for the environment.

Share this page