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Water stewardship

Focus area 2030 Targets
Water stewardship
  • Achieve a fresh water intensity of maximum 0.1 barrels per barrel of oil equivalent

We use water to create steam for the steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process at our oil sands projects, to drill and complete wells, maintain access roads at our sites and to run our camps. Managing our use of water resources efficiently and responsibly is not only important to the environment, it also helps support our low cost structure.

Cenovus is already a leader in managing fresh water intensity compared to its oil sands peers and has set a target across its oil sands and Deep Basin operations of maximum 0.1 barrels of fresh water use per barrel of oil equivalent by the end of 2030. This is well below a target set by Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) for in-situ producers of 0.18 barrels by 2022. And Cenovus is always looking for ways to further reduce the amount of water we use and be more efficient with how we use it.

What we're doing to reduce water consumption

Examples of technology and innovation that we use to increase the efficiency of water use in our operations include:

  • Natural gas based solvents to thin the oil so less steam is needed to extract it from the ground
  • Blowdown boilers that maximize the efficiency of steam generation in our operations
  • Electric submersible pumps to improve production rates and help keep temperatures in the reservoir low, reducing the amount of steam (and water) we need to produce oil.

Quick facts

On average, over 85% of the water we use to make steam at our Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands projects is water that’s been recycled from our operations. Most of the additional water we use to make steam is saline (salty) water that is unfit for consumption or agricultural use.

Find out more about our water use in our Environmental, Social and Governance report.