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Students compete to solve industry challenges in the Alberta Energy Challenge

Alberta Energy Challenge participants on a tour of our Christina Lake facility

October 2016 - 50 students from post-secondary schools across North America converged on Alberta recently for a competition to propose solutions to current pressing challenge faced by the energy sector. For the seventh year, Cenovus sponsored the Alberta Energy Challenge (AEC), which provides an engaging way for students to learn more about the energy industry.

“Investing in programs like this gives us the chance to engage with young people and hear their thoughts about our industry and how to tackle some of the big issues that face us every day,” says Leanne Courchesne, Group Lead, Community Investment. “At the same time, it improves the students' understanding of how energy powers the world around them and how to effectively collaborate and problem solve.”

Each year’s challenge, created by Andrew Leach, Professor of Economics at the University of Alberta, is intended to help students understand the complexity of energy needs in Canada, and the innovative thinking it will take to meet future demand. The challenge is created by Andrew Leach, Professor of Economics at the University of Alberta. This year, students were asked to explore how an oil company could seek out a joint-venture partnership in renewable energy or begin to transition their business to a more diversified operation. As part of the challenge, Cenovus hosted the students on a tour of our Christina Lake oil sands operation.

Participants presented their solutions to a panel of judges from the Alberta energy sector, including representatives from Cenovus. A team of students from the University of Alberta won for their proposed plan to integrate geothermal energy into existing infrastructure at Christina Lake. The proposal concluded it would help reduce our need for natural gas during steam generation and in turn, reduce our CO2 emissions.

Many of the students participating in the challenge had no previous experience or familiarity with steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) for oil sands production. The facility tour of our Christina Lake project was an opportunity for us to showcase our operations and demonstrate some of the technologies our staff are working on to reduce our environmental impact.

"The delegates were highly impressed with the site and the camp,” says Kyle Gough, Student Chair of the Alberta Energy Challenge. “Every student I talked to after the tour said they were surprised by the efficiency of the operation, and that it was an experience they will never forget."

Alberta Energy Challenge (AEC)

AEC is a business case competition focused on exploring the opportunities and challenges present in the dynamic energy sector. AEC brings together top students from around the world and provides them with an unparalleled opportunity to further develop and explore their interests in energy and the environment.

What is SAGD?

Learn more about steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology and how we use it to safely get oil out of the ground.

Virtual tour of Christina Lake

Ever wonder what a SAGD site looks like? Take a virtual tour to get an on-the-ground look at our oil sands operations.

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