Climate change

Climate change

At Cenovus, our mission is to maximize the value of our company by responsibly developing oil and natural gas assets in a safe, innovative and efficient way. That includes finding the right balance between minimizing our environmental impacts and maximizing our efficiency so that we can remain both cost and carbon competitive. We believe that technology and innovation are key to reducing both costs and emissions. We recognize that there are growing concerns globally about the effects of climate change and that the transition to a lower-carbon economy is already underway.

Check out some of the actions we are taking to address climate change in our work.

Our actions on climate change:

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity

Since 2004, we’ve reduced our oil sands GHG per-barrel emissions by one-third.

We're doing this by:

  • Maintaining a low steam to oil ratio (SOR) in our oil sands assets
  • Operating two natural gas-burning cogeneration plants to create all the electricity needed for our operations. We then sell the excess electricity to the Alberta electrical grid. Cogeneration electricity creates fewer emissions than coal-fired power and thus reduces the overall greenhouse gas emissions in the province.
  • Planning to integrate more solvents into our operations. Solvents reduce our upstream GHG emissions intensity by enabling us to use less steam. Solvent-aided bitumen extraction can reduce the steam to oil ratio, the amount of steam needed to produce one barrel of oil, by up to 30 percent.
  • Focusing on innovation and technology development to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions across our operations 
Reducing methane gas emissions intensity
  • We use compressed air rather than natural gas at our oil sands facilities and most of our conventional facilities to operate equipment. Using compressed air eliminates the methane emissions that would occur from using natural gas.
  • Where possible we use electric motor drive pumps, instead of pumps that use natural gas for fuel
  • We’ve installed solar panels at some of our oil and natural gas sites to power equipment like chemical pumps
  • Buildings at our production facilities are equipped with continuous gas monitoring instruments that activate alarms, or shutdown operations if gas leaks are detected
  • We’ve implemented a company-wide leak detection and repair program which has provided us with more than five years of data to help improve the way we manage emissions
  • We ensure that our gas well completion process is designed to reduce emissions and conserve gas as much as possible, in compliance with Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) Directive 060: Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring, Incinerating and Venting. When gas must be flared, the regulations restrict the duration of flaring as well as the volume of gas that may be flared.
Working with others
  • We worked with oil sands producers and leading environmental organizations to better understand each other’s views and recommend solutions for the oil and natural gas industry that helped inform the Government of Alberta’s climate plan that was announced in 2015.
  • We’re engaging with and supporting government, industry leaders and academics to advance GHG emissions regulations that enable a robust Alberta economy, investment in technology to lower emissions, and create the conditions for improved environmental performance.
  • We’re collaborating with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) to find solutions to improve environmental performance by focusing on areas such as water, land and GHG emissions. COSIA’s GHG environmental priority area is investigating ways to reduce energy use and associated GHG emissions through the development of innovative technologies for oil sands.
  • We’re in the early stages of working with others to find solutions to reduce emissions not only from the production of oil but also from its end use to ensure oil is part of a clean energy future.
Investing in technology companies
  • We’re working with companies that are developing technologies aimed at minimizing the environmental impact of producing and consuming energy
  • Companies we’ve invested in include General Fusion, which is developing fusion technology using hydrogen atoms found in water and Saltworks Technologies, which has developed a suite of energy efficient ways to convert salt water into fresh water through desalination.
Being transparent about our GHG emissions

We’re continuing to report our GHG emissions and climate change data through our corporate responsibility report. In 2018, we’ve also shared information on how we’re managing climate-related risks in our carbon disclosure report.

We do this to:

  • Provide increased transparency to investors, shareholders and the general public
  • Identify how we mitigate risks arising from climate change
  • Enhance our ability to increase efficiency and reduce costs
Supporting a price on carbon

We support a price on carbon – for the companies that produce oil as well as the consumers who use the product – and have since we launched as a company. We believe the funds from a price on carbon should be directed toward the development of new technologies that will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.