A biodiversity first – fully reclaiming a Christina Lake borrow pit

April 2023 – Meet the site formerly known as Borrow Pit 8. 

After a reclamation process that began more than eight years ago, Borrow Pit 8 at our Christina Lake oil sands operations officially received a reclamation certificate from the Alberta Energy Regulator.

A borrow pit is a large area of land where we “borrow” natural clay materials to use in our operations, for example, to build access roads and well pads. When we’re finished with a borrow pit, our team works to return the land back to a more natural state.  

“This is the first time that one of our oil sands-related borrow pits has received a reclamation certificate, a significant achievement given the size of these projects compared to our other well site reclamation activities,” says Jason Desilets, Cenovus Energy Reclamation & Remediation Specialist. 

To give a sense of size, well sites cover approximately 1.6 hectares and borrow pits are typically between 12 and 14 hectares. 

“A reclamation certificate is the final step in our efforts and shows the provincial regulator agrees we met all reclamation criteria and has signed off on our work,” Jason explains. “It means the land is no longer part of our operations footprint and is left to take its natural path.” 

One sign of successful reclamation is when wildlife begins to move in and at the Borrow Pit 8 site, beavers have started building dams. 

“It’s incredibly rewarding to watch nature take over and thrive, as we’re seeing vegetation growth and wildlife making it their home,” says Jason.  

Cenovus continually works towards obtaining reclamation certificates for our decommissioned well sites. In fact, one of our environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets is to reclaim 3,000 decommissioned well sites by year-end 2025, and we’re well over half way.  

In 2022 alone, we received more than 500 reclamation certificates.  

“We continue to make progress on Cenovus’s commitment to restore the land we operate on, and it’s wonderful to see Borrow Pit 8 transformed from a worksite that provided essential natural material for our operations, back to a more natural state,” says Lisa Warren, Senior Manager, Reclamation & Remediation at Cenovus. 

“This work truly showcases Cenovus’s leadership on biodiversity and is yet another example of how we protect what matters. A special kudos goes to our Reclamation and Earthworks teams and equipment operator contractors for helping execute this borrow pit reclamation.” 

We plan to continue to work towards reclamation certificates for additional Christina Lake borrow pits.

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