Wildlife and biodiversity
Since no two areas across our operations are the same, we create individual plans for each project before we start work. These plans include a pre-disturbance assessment that looks at plants, soils, vegetation and wildlife that are native to the region. It helps us better understand our impact and identify and avoid potential disturbances. This includes planning our operating activities to avoid sensitive times for wildlife, such as migration and nesting periods for birds and calving season for caribou. It also highlights the activities we’ll need to undertake so we can return the land to its natural state. That’s our commitment – and it’s the law.
Putting wildlife first
We have a number of programs in place to help protect wildlife. From bears to caribou to foxes and birds – we look for ways to monitor, protect and assist wildlife located near our operations. Check out some of the programs we have in place:
In June 2016 we committed $32 million over 10 years to complete rehabilitation work to restore woodland caribou habitat near our operations. Learn more about the program and watch a video.
We created a Wild Watch app that staff can use to help us track wildlife near our operations. This allows us to collect invaluable data which we use to make informed decision in our project planning to avoid disrupting wildlife.
Our oil sands operations share the environment with many different wildlife species, including bears. Over the past four years, our wildlife awareness training program has been shared with thousands of staff members, instructing them on the importance of being bear aware.
In an effort to reduce bear incidences we’ve erected fencing to deter bears, added bear-proof containers and put up 'Be Bear Aware' signs to remind staff of proper waste storage practices. As a further precaution, we patrol the site with dogs trained to keep bears from entering the camp area.
All the land we use will ultimately be reclaimed. Once we’ve recovered as much oil from the reservoir as possible we restore the land to a condition comparable to the untouched land around it. We reclaim any land we’ve worked on including access roads, well pads and seismic lines. Once the entire project is complete and the equipment and infrastructure are removed, we plant trees and other vegetation if needed, and then let nature take its course.
Across our non-oil sands operations in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, we track and manage wells from the time we start to plan them until they’re no longer in use and are reclaimed. We have a long-term strategy in place to manage our inactive wells and to accelerate the pace of our reclamation.
In 2014, we began taking a more proactive approach to managing well reclamation by requiring any wells that have not been active for eight years to automatically be reclaimed. We have already received 246 reclamation certificates for successfully completed reclamation work. In 2016, we abandoned 354 more wells across our operations, which is the first step towards reclamation. We also submitted an additional 77 reclamation applications to the Alberta Energy Regulator.
At our oil sands operations in northern Alberta, each project can be operational for 30 to 40 years. Depending on how the project was constructed, we don’t have to wait until the entire project is finished before we start to reclaim the land. In some cases, we’re able to reuse land we’ve already used for other operational purposes instead of disturbing additional land.