Responsible development in action
As an integrated energy company in business for 130 years, we explore for, produce, refine and market products that are essential to society and economic growth. All of our businesses are managed by the same principles of responsible development.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
We're focused on technologies that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
- We continue to leverage capital investments, improved practices, computing technology and a sustained employee focus on day-to-day operational improvements to increase energy efficiency at our refineries. As a result, our refineries are 15 percent more energy efficient than they were in 1990.
- We continue a multi-year program to install energy conservation technology at retail sites. To date, 115 of our largest sites have been upgraded.
- Kearl will be the first oil sands mining operation that does not require an upgrader to make a saleable crude oil. Processing bitumen once, rather than twice (in an upgrader and a refinery), reduces both carbon dioxide emissions and development costs.
Applying cogeneration technology
Cogeneration reduces energy requirements by producing electricity and steam at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- We have about 260 megawatts of cogeneration capacity at Cold Lake and Sarnia, and about 270 megawatts proposed for the Cold Lake expansion and Kearl.
- Cold Lake’s cogeneration facilities reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent compared with generating electricity from coal-fired plants and producing steam from conventional boilers.
- Kearl’s cogeneration facilities will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by half a million tonnes a year compared to purchased power for the first phase of the project.
Improving air quality
- Continued construction on a new unit at the Sarnia manufacturing site, when coupled with operational enhancements, will enable the site to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions by more than 50 percent.
- Continued construction on a project at Dartmouth refinery that will enable sulphur dioxide emissions to be reduced by more than 25 percent.
- We invested more than $200 million in the Syncrude Emissions Reduction (SER) project to date. When combined with already completed improvements, the SER project is anticipated to reduce sulphur emissions by about 60 percent from current approved levels.
- We expanded our use of advanced optical imaging equipment to better detect and reduce fugitive emissions.
Minimizing water use
- Cold Lake now uses approximately 90 percent less fresh water per unit of production than in the mid-1970s.
- We applied for renewal of the Cold Lake Water Act License, which includes a commitment to continue to reduce fresh water use. Conservation initiatives are underway that, if successful, will reduce fresh water use at Cold Lake by up to 30 percent from current uses.
- Kearl plans to improve on existing tailings technologies in order to recycle water sooner and reduce water demand. It will also use water storage to lessen water withdrawals from the river during winter low-flow periods.
- In our conventional business, where there’s declining oil production, we’ve voluntarily reviewed our water licences and have returned a significant volume of unneeded water allocation to the Alberta government.
Protecting water quality and fish habitat
- Progressed a multi-year program at our Sarnia site to install water hold-and-treat systems to prevent releases to the St. Clair River.
- Continued work on building a lake at our Kearl oil sands project that fulfills our commitment to replace fish habitat lost due to construction and mining activities by a two-to-one ratio.
- Completed a free-span bridge that does not disturb aquatic habitat over the Muskeg River at the Kearl project.
Minimizing our footprint, reclaiming land that we disturb
We manage potential impacts to land throughout all phases of our operations, from project planning and construction to decommissioning and remediation.
At the Cold Lake in-situ operation:
- At the end of 2008, more than 1,700 acres of the disturbed land had been permanently reclaimed. In 2009, 85,000 tree seedlings and shrubs were planted as part of our ongoing permanent reclamation program.
- Updated plans for the Cold Lake Nabiye expansion includes technology to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions as well as technology that reduces the number of well pads, thereby reducing surface disturbance by more than 40 percent. Imperial’s proposed amendments to the project will also result in improved energy efficiency with the addition of a cogeneration facility.
At the Kearl mining operation:
- During site clearing, topsoil and peat were stockpiled in order to progressively reclaim land as mined-out areas become available.
- We are engaging local stakeholders in progressive reclamation planning so that the lands reclaimed will be accessible for traditional use by the local community.
At Horn River, we will minimize surface disturbance through the use of horizontal pad drilling, low-impact methods for conducting seismic surveys, efficient designs that decrease lease dimensions, and by sharing infrastructure with other area producers.