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Karo Afiegbe: Capturing carbon and identifying innovation

The “Us” in Cenovus

Karo Afiegbe
Staff GHG Tech Engineer, Karo Afiegbe, is helping shape the future of energy with our Innovation Gateway team

November 2021 – “I can’t help but feel like I’m sitting at a green light, and I’m ready to just go. There are no roadblocks in front of me. Everyone is on board and the support is everywhere. I can feel it,” says Karo Afiegbe, Staff GHG Tech Engineer, Innovation Gateway team at Cenovus Energy.

Despite what it may sound like, Karo isn’t describing the rush of a race. Instead, he is explaining the surging momentum he feels the energy industry is experiencing in the search for both clean energy innovations and new solutions to help us reach our sustainability targets and goals.

Karo plays an important role in our commitment to sustainability at Cenovus, helping to identify and deploy exciting new technologies that have proven successful in the quest to combat and reduce our emissions.

With an education and background in electrical engineering, Karo has been working in the energy industry since 1997 and brought his talent and expertise to Cenovus in 2011. After working at our Lloydminster site as a facilities and operations engineer for several years, he moved to a new position with the Innovation Gateway team.

“I knew this role was a chance to enter the next stage of my career. It was an exciting opportunity to use my strong background in oil and gas facilities engineering management to make a difference,” explains Karo. “With my experience in the industry, I knew I had the ability required to identify technologies well suited to match our industry greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. This involves assessing technology and developing a new strategy designed to reduce emissions.”

Leveraging these years of industry experience is exactly what Karo is doing now. In his role he evaluates greenhouse gas capturing technologies against several Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and prepares them for pilot projects in the field to test their viability in our production facilities. Some KPI’s used in selecting technologies to pilot include energy input required, capital and operating cost, efficiency, and ability to integrate within our existing assets without upsetting operations.

“Energy is an important part of people’s lives – it provides our lifestyle and the modern comforts we enjoy. In my role, focusing on identifying and testing new cleaner technology means finding solutions that allow us to maintain our lifestyle while reducing the environmental impact of industrial emissions,” explains Karo.

A recent pilot that Karo was involved with is our carbon capture project in partnership with Svante that captures 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year at our Pikes Peak South thermal project near Lloydminster, SK. Karo and his team are now focusing on determining whether and how to deploy this technology across our other assets with the potential to further improve our environmental performance.

This carbon capture technology operates with the purpose of removing CO2 from the atmosphere to then be safely stored and converted into other materials. With these technologies, Karo and his team work to reduce, reuse and recycle the CO2 that we produce.

In addition to his role at Cenovus, Karo represents the company on Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Steering Committee, where he leads COSIA’s Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) working group. A place to collaborate and innovate, the group discusses carbon capture technologies and their potential to reduce GHG emissions at oil sands facilities.

“This is an exciting time to be in the industry and I’m determined to be part of the driving force that will help transform its future,” emphasizes Karo. “I want to leave behind a legacy that is representative of just how hard we have all worked to ensure we continue to deliver the energy the world needs, as responsibly and sustainably as possible.”