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Water technology and innovation

Water is key to our operations. How we handle it and the way that impacts the environment is important to us and our stakeholders in the areas where we operate. We use water to generate steam for the SAGD process at our oil sands projects, to drill and complete wells, to maintain access roads at our sites and to run our camps. We’re always looking for ways to be more efficient with the water we use and to reduce our overall consumption. Here are some examples of technology and innovation that we use to increase the efficiency and reduce the volume of water used in our operations.

Blowdown boiler

Our patented blowdown boiler technology helps us get more steam from every barrel of water we use at our oil sands projects. Typical steam generators convert about 80 percent of the water they use into steam. With our blowdown boiler technology, we can achieve up to 90 percent conversion rate and we can recycle a greater percentage of that water over and over again. That reduces our demand for additional or make-up water for our SAGD process, and it means we use much less water overall to generate steam. We currently use six blowdown boilers within our operations. Learn more about this technology.

Cenovus Water Tracker System app

We track our water use at our oil sands operations through a mobile app we created called the Cenovus Water Tracker System. Using the app, our drivers can complete a digital checklist and the information entered becomes available almost immediately, giving us an accurate view of all of our local water use in real time. With a better understanding of how much water we actually use, we're now able to adjust our forecasts to determine a more accurate picture of our future water needs. Our goal is to use water responsibly and have as little impact on local sources as possible. To achieve this, we monitor our consumption closely and comply with all government regulations. Learn more about this technology.

Electric submersible pumps

We use electric submersible pumps to get oil out of our oil sands reservoirs. They help us improve production rates and keep temperatures in the reservoir low, reducing the overall amount of steam (and water) we need to produce our oil. Learn more about this innovation.

Reusing wastewater

To conserve water at our oil sands operations, we developed a system to recycle wastewater from our camps. Treated waste water is trucked from our treatment facility and reused at our sites for drilling wells, making ice roads in the winter and suppressing dust in the summer. The reduces the volume of freshwater we need from our surface or groundwater wells. At our Foster Creek and Christina Lake facilities, we reuse over 60,000 m3 of treated wastewater each year during standard operations. That’s the equivalent of approximately 25 Olympic-sized swimming pools.