Although it’s not well publicized, Canada’s oil and gas sector is already a global leader in active projects targeting significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide. These successes — some dating back as far as Y2K — are being used as a springboard for additional projects, all aimed at helping Canada achieve its aggressive GHG-reduction goals for 2030 and beyond. The scale of many of these projects is noteworthy. In today’s blog, we discuss the existing operations and planned projects that together will help the U.S.’s northern neighbor reduce its carbon footprint.
Often categorized as a resource-intensive country, it should come as no surprise that Canada’s oil and gas sector is one of the nation’s largest contributors to its GHG emissions. Perhaps that’s why the sector, with decades of study and innovation in dealing with emission-related issues, is leading the way in Canada in ramping up existing projects that sequester CO2, as well as developing a multitude of new initiatives that will significantly expand sequestration efforts in the near future.
As we said in Part 1, between 2000 and 2019, Canada’s output of GHGs as measured by million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) has generally stayed within a relatively narrow range: between 700 and 725 MMTCO2e. Over that time, however, the oil and gas sector’s share of those emissions has risen from 21% to 26%, while the contribution from other sectors of the economy has mostly held steady or declined. The largest contributor to the rising emissions trend in the oil and gas sector has been the oil sands, whose share of the sector’s total contributions has increased from 14% in 2000 to 37% in 2019.
Also, we briefly reviewed two large-scale proposals announced in June of this year to actively capture and sequester CO2 emitted by the oil and gas sector, and the oil sands in particular. The first initiative, dubbed the “Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero,” is a cooperative effort by five of the largest oil sands producers to develop processes to reduce and capture CO2 emissions from their operations. In conjunction with that effort, a dedicated trunkline has been proposed to transport the captured emissions to a geological formation south of the oil sands in the Cold Lake region of Alberta. The initiative was short on specifics in terms of cost, in-service date, or the scale of CO2 capture, but it was clear that extensive government cooperation in terms of cost sharing will be needed to make it a reality.
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