Climate & GHG emissions
As the world transitions to a lower carbon future, people will need continued access to a secure, diversified mix of affordable and reliable energy. And according to a diverse range of third-party forecasts, oil and natural gas will still be needed as part of that energy mix for decades, as both a transportation fuel and a building block for everyday products like smartphones, contact lenses and electric vehicle components.
We know our industry is a significant contributor to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, so we need to be a big part of the solution. That’s why, as we continue to provide responsibly produced oil and natural gas to help ensure energy security for Canadians and the world, we’re working hard to reach our 2035 GHG emissions target and 2050 net-zero ambition. We’ve also established a new methane milestone to reduce absolute methane emissions by 80% by year-end 2028, from a 2019 baseline.
by year-end 20351 as we build toward our long-term ambition for
emissions by 2050.
(Rebaselined and adjusted emissions2
for target performance comparison)
26.0 MMt CO2e
(Million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents)
Target 20352 16.9 MMt CO2e
2022 KEY INITIATIVES
Reduced absolute methane emissions in upstream operations by about 59% from 2019 levels.
- Continued focus on improved methane detection and measurement.
- Completed 6,000 optical gas imaging (OGI) surveys to detect leaks since Jan 1, 2020, including 1,881 in 2022.
- Completed pilot of Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (Alt‑FEMP) aerial screening to detect leaks in conventional, heavy oil and oil sands, with potential to expand.
- Continued to convert instruments that use natural gas to instruments power by air or electricity to reduce methane emissions.
- Piloted new methane reduction technologies including conversion of instruments that use natural gas to instruments that use nitrogen, methane-detecting robots and upgrading several natural gas-powered engines to prevent incomplete combustion.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and other decarbonization
Continued to operate carbon capture projects at our Lloydminster Ethanol Plant and Pikes Peak South projects.
Additional potential carbon capture projects:
- Completed design and engineering studies to improve the capture efficiency and energy use in carbon capture technologies at Christina Lake.
- Drilled appraisal well for proposed Minnedosa Ethanol Plant CCS project.
- Completed feasibility studies for commercial‑scale carbon capture applications at two Cenovus assets, working with clean-tech company, Svante.
- Identified potential carbon capture technologies for further evaluation at our Lloydminster Upgrader.
Signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to buy renewable electricity and associated emissions offsets from a wind project in southeast Alberta.
1 Target includes start year 2019 for emissions. Emissions reductions are in reference to scope 1 and 2, on a net equity basis. Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions from owned or operated facilities by the reporting company. This includes emissions from fuel combustion, venting, flaring, industrial processes and fugitive leaks from equipment. Cenovus accounts for emissions on a gross operatorship basis. The company also reports its net-equity share of emissions from all of its assets. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase or acquisition of electricity, steam, heat or cooling for use at the owned or operated facility.
2 The absolute emissions target and 2019 baseline have been adjusted to reflect material asset changes, including acquisitions and divestitures, up to the end of the first quarter of 2023, to capture Cenovus’s February 2023 transaction to take full ownership of the Toledo Refinery. We intend to continue using this approach of adjusting our emissions baseline to reflect material changes to our portfolio. Performance toward our target is then measured against this adjusted baseline.
3 This figure has been updated to align with the adjusted 2019 baseline, and to allow comparison, the adjusted 2022 emissions number assumes 100% ownership of the Sunrise oil sands asset and Toledo Refinery and full operations at the Superior Refinery for all of 2022.
Climate & GHG at a glance
- In 2022, we reduced absolute methane emissions by about 32% from 2021 levels.
- Our Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands facilities have cogeneration plants which use natural gas to generate electricity for our operations. We sell excess cogen power to the Alberta electrical grid, reducing the province’s reliance on more carbon-intensive power.
Investing in technology to reduce emissions
Reaching our long-term ambition of net zero emissions from oil sands operations by 2050 will require ongoing investment in multiple carbon reducing technologies. This includes implementing proven technologies like carbon capture & storage (CCS) at a commercial scale to achieve near-term emissions reductions. And it involves researching and investing in the advancement of emerging technologies like solvents, next generation carbon capture and small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to achieve longer-term reductions.
At Cenovus, we’ve developed a three-phased plan to invest in and implement emissions reducing technologies on the pathway to our ambition of net zero emissions from oil sands operations. Learn more.
Carbon capture technology
We currently operate two carbon capture projects:
- Lloydminster Ethanol Plant – we produce fuel-grade ethanol, and have the capacity to capture, on average, approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO2e per year which is safely injected underground for enhanced oil recovery.
- Pikes Peak South – in partnership with Svante, we are testing new carbon capture technology, which has capacity to capture close to 9,000 tonnes of CO2e per year while enabling the advancement of the technology Read more about this project.
In addition to these projects already underway, our five-year plan includes progressing carbon capture technology at our Christina Lake oil sands operations, Minnedosa Ethanol Plant, Elmworth gas plant and Lloydminster Upgrader.