Collaborating to improve our industry
We recognize that we can find some of the solutions to the environmental challenges of oil sands development faster and more effectively if we take a collaborative approach to technology development and innovation. That’s why we’re working with our peer companies, academics, entrepreneurs and other industries to identify and develop innovative solutions to help solve those challenges.
Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance
One way we’re collaborating on innovation is through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). We’re aligning our efforts with 12 other oil sands producers to find solutions to improve environmental performance by focusing on areas such as water, land and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Examples of technologies we’ve contributed to COSIA are:
- Blowdown boiler technology1 – allows us to recycle more water for steam generation at our oil sands operations. This results in reduced fresh and saline water use as well as reduced waste water for disposal.
- Linear Deactivation project (LiDea) – uses innovative techniques to regenerate forest growth along old seismic lines to help protect and restore wildlife habitat
- Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell technology – has the potential to reduce the GHG intensity of production at oil sands drilling operations by capturing carbon while generating electricity. We expect to complete the joint industry project study, which will explore the feasibility of the technology to oil sands development, by the end of 2017. After the study is complete we will explore a path forward to continue the development of the technology.
1 Patented technology.
Our blowdown boiler technology at our Christina Lake operations. With our blowdown boiler technology, we can convert more than 90 percent of every barrel of water we use into steam and we can recycle a greater percentage of water.
Cenovus is one of eight COSIA member companies that teamed up with NRG Energy in 2015 to co-fund the US$20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. The competition is a cross-border, cross-industry effort, designed to promote and advance the discovery and development of technologies that could launch an entirely new commercial industry – converting CO2 emissions into valuable products – while also potentially contributing to a cleaner energy future.
Cenovus became the co-founder of a first-of-its-kind investment partnership in 2015, along with Suncor Energy and the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance, to connect the energy industry and the global clean technology community with the goal of accelerating the development and commercialization of cleantech innovations.
Learn more about Evok Innovations »
Investing in GLOBE
In 2016, we were a sponsor of the GLOBE conference in Vancouver, an event dedicated to business innovation for the planet. Our sponsorship supported:
- A clean energy technology workshop, bringing leaders from across Canada together to promote a discussion around how to accelerate cleantech innovations
- A pitch session, challenging cleantech entrepreneurs to come up with a solution to transform the oil and gas industry’s most pressing environmental and economic challenges. The top five finalists had an opportunity to pitch their technology to a panel of judges, and to be considered for funding through Evok Innovations.
We were also a sponsor of the Leading Change: Forum for Emerging Environmental Leaders, which took place before the GLOBE conference. The forum brought together young environmental leaders and sustainability professionals from across Canada to discuss initiatives to help combat climate change.
Environmental Opportunity Fund
In 2015, we continued to invest in our Environmental Opportunity Fund. Through the fund, we have invested in several companies over the years that are developing technologies designed to minimize the environmental impact of producing and consuming energy, including General Fusion, which is developing fusion technology using hydrogen atoms found in water.
Did you know?
We support academic research that encourages technology advancements that will benefit the oil industry. In 2015 we initiated a number of new relationships with universities and research institutes around the world. Through these new collaborations, our technology development group has been working with university professors on topics such as 3D printing, oil and water separation, bitumen solidification, robotics inspections and pipeline leak detection.
Some of our academic partnerships include:
- University of Alberta Research Chair in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering
- University of Calgary Chair in Canadian Plains Mitigation and Reclamation Research
- The Cenovus Energy James Clerk Maxwell Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute at Waterloo, Ontario
Collaborating with students from
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In early 2016, nine chemical engineering PhD students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge spent two months working on technology development at Cenovus. The students worked with our technical experts to brainstorm technologies that could reduce our environmental impact or improve the efficiency of our SAGD facilities in the areas of steam generation, heat management and diluent use. It was a win-win for MIT and Cenovus – the students gained valuable corporate experience and we were able to bring some of the brightest minds together to focus on advancing technologies that may improve our environmental performance.
Call for technology solutions
Research and development is fundamental to how we do business. We have dedicated employees working on technology development to drive innovation in our business, and we’re always looking for ways to further improve our technologies or to find new technologies to enhance our current techniques. That’s why we’ve added an online submission form to our company website, encouraging bright minds from across the world to submit technology solutions that could help improve our operations. Since launching the form in November of 2015, we’ve had 61 submissions.
Focusing on innovation within our Leadership Team
Our commitment to technology, innovation and collaboration within and beyond our industry starts with our Leadership Team. In 2015, a new role was added to the Leadership Team: Executive Vice-President, Business Innovation. The position will help further our efforts to develop ground-breaking, cross-sector partnerships in areas of strategic importance to Cenovus.