Canada’s energy innovation story is one worth telling

By Geoff Morrison

At Encana’s Water Resource Hub near Dawson Creek, it is using and storing saline water –water unfit for human consumption – from a subsurface aquifer.

The pages of our history books are filled with stories of innovation.

Without the invention of the wheel we wouldn’t have motorized vehicles, electric cars, airplanes or motorcycles. The evolution of the telephone has opened the door to the Internet – not only connecting us to the world with the use of our smartphones, laptops or tablets, but through social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

What many don’t realize is that these conveniences are made possible with the production of oil and natural gas. Without Western Canada’s abundant natural resources, everyday pleasures we take for granted couldn’t be manufactured.

There would be no luxuries such as deodorant, shaving cream, or cologne, not to mention eyeliner, eyeshadow, or lipstick. Our hair would be a mess without shampoo and conditioner, or the aid of hairbrushes, combs, and hairspray.

More importantly, necessities such as medical supplies, artificial heart valves, hearing aids, or eyeglasses wouldn’t exist without oil and natural gas.

The list goes on and on.

Fortunately, it is innovation in Canada’s energy sector that is driving growth for a better, more sustainable future. Organizations such as Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) are accelerating the pace of environmental performance in the oil sands through collaboration and innovation.

In its 2017 Crude Oil Forecast, Markets and Transportation report, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) forecasted oilsands production will grow 53 per cent to 3.7 million barrels per day by 2030, making the need for innovation never more significant than it is today.

Oilsands producers are working together and sharing ideas to develop new technology that will not only change the way they extract oil, but will also change the course of our future to make a better world for all of us.

Encana engineer with rig supervisor.

Since COSIA’s inception in 2012, its member companies have spent $1.33 billion to develop more than 935 distinct technologies.

Project’s such as Shell Canada’s Quest carbon capture and storage facility is capturing about one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from oilsands refined at its Scotford upgrader. The CO2 is stored more than two kilometres underground – which is two kilometres beyond the deepest drinkable groundwater and one kilometre below the deepest hydrocarbon deposits in the area.

In Northern British Columbia, Encana has taken major strides to reduce the amount of fresh water it uses for hydraulic fracturing operations in natural gas. At its Water Resource Hub near Dawson Creek, it is using and storing saline water –water unfit for human consumption – from a subsurface aquifer.

Not only does the Water Resource Hub decrease Encana’s reliance on fresh water, its safe transport by pipeline cuts down water hauling truck traffic which, in turn, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, dust, noise, and wear and tear on roads near Dawson Creek.

The Water Resource Hub is expected to provide up to 75 per cent of Encana’s water needs in the area and save millions of litres of fresh water during its first five years of operation. It also means reducing the number of water hauling trucks, which are the size of a city transit bus or bigger, by about 160,000.

But don’t take our word for it.

Canada’s conscientious approach to the development of its natural resources has the rest of the world taking notice. According to the 2017 Global Energy Pulse – a first-of-its-kind survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) – Canadian oil and natural gas are the preferred source of exported energy globally, according to respondents in 32 countries.

Although the majority would prefer energy made by their own country, 31 per cent preferred Canadian oil and natural gas versus other producing nations as a result of our stringent regulatory system, stable political environment, and most responsible producers in the world – making us the number-one choice on a list of 11 producing countries.

Of note, Canada’s oil and gas natural industry got top marks for inventing and using leading-edge technology to reduce its environmental impact from India, which is poised to become the world’s number-one importer of oil and a potential new customer for Canadian energy.

Canada’s innovation story is one worth telling and one we all should to be proud of. The responsible development of our natural resources not only fuels our lives today but also the energy of tomorrow.

Geoff Morrison is the manager, British Columbia for CAPP.

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