Rising to the challenges

How do you get just the oil out of the oil sands when it’s compressed in sand, deep underground and can be as hard as a hockey puck? Our Rising to the challenges ad highlights those challenges.

Our challenges

We’re focused on making smart environmental choices every day because we care. That’s why we have a technology development team actively finding ways for us to be even better at what we do. It's challenging work, but we're persistent in our determination to continue to build and operate our projects efficiently and improve our performance.

Why oil matters

The ways we get from place-to-place in this world – cars, trains, planes, ships - have been built on oil. Alternative fuels currently account for less than four percent of all transportation fuels*, so until that number increases significantly, oil will be an essential part of how our food and other products get to the stores and how we travel. And, as our other ads point out, petroleum products are key ingredients in many products and technologies we use every day.

In addition to the direct investments oil companies like Cenovus make in their operating communities, the oil industry in Canada creates jobs that support our regional and national economies. Revenue from taxes and royalties are used to fund, among other things, health care and education.

*Source: 2012 Key World Energy Statistics © OECD/IEA (International Energy Agency), 2012

How are we different?

Eighty percent of the oil in the oil sands is buried so deep, it can only be accessed by drilling. About 20 percent of the oil in the oil sands is close to the surface and is mined. We have no mining projects.

While drilling in the oil sands is still very much in its early stages, we’ve made some huge advancements to the technology in just a few short years. Advancements that have improved both our operational and environmental performance. We spend a significant amount of time learning about our oil sands reservoirs – each is unique and has different characteristics. We also test new ways to improve SAGD technologies and reduce our environmental footprint. It’s challenging work, but we’re persistent in our determination to continue to build and operate our projects efficiently and improve our performance. We’re tackling these challenges every day so we can be even better at what we do.

Find out more about Cenovus in the oil sands.

What about the environment?

We're using salty water wherever we can

Most of the water we use to generate the steam we inject is saline water. Saline water, because it’s salty, can’t be used for human or animal consumption, or for watering plants. We get this water from deep underground and recycle it over and over again in our production process. Less than five percent of the water we use in our oil sands operations is fresh. The fresh water comes from underground aquifers, not from lakes or rivers.

We’re striving for a low steam to oil ratio (SOR)

SOR measures the amount of steam used to produce a barrel of oil from the oil sands. A low SOR is a reflection of how we develop the resource, the efficiency with which we run our facilities and the quality of the reservoir. We’re always looking for ways to make the steam to oil ratio (SOR) as low as possible.

Our combined SOR at Christina Lake and Foster Creek in 2012 was 2.1, among the lowest in the industry.

We understand that environmental progress is integral to our long term resource development. Our environmental commitments guide our actions.

Find out more about our environment commitments.