At its 2017 annual Performance Update, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) showcased advances towards its goal of accelerating the pace of environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands, including reductions in GHGs and water use. To date, members of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) have voluntarily shared 981 distinct environmental technologies costing $1.4 billion.

“The commitment of our member companies has strengthened year-over-year,” said Dan Wicklum, COSIA chief executive. “In fact, our project count has gone up every year. In 2017, COSIA members expanded the alliance’s portfolio more than in any year previous, initiating 99 new projects in 2017.”

Since 2012, COSIA members have seen a 42 per cent reduction in freshwater use intensity at in situ operations and a net reduction of 18 per cent in water use intensity from the Athabasca River at mining operations. They have also reduced GHG emissions intensity by 11 per cent at in situ operations and 9 per cent at mining operations.

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As COSIA moves forward, the alliance has identified promising areas for innovations in in situ development. By reducing the need for steam during bitumen extraction, COSIA members aim to increase energy efficiency and drastically cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The research and innovation around in situ subsurface steam and waterless extraction has potential to lower water and land use, and reduce production costs, as well as reducing GHGs. While the mid to long-term results are promising, taking the right approach is key to seeing technologies succeed.

To share its progress, COSIA hosted an online conference, allowing individuals from anywhere in the world to attend virtually. The virtual conference included presentations on key projects including Dr. William Shotyk, professor and Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment at the University of Alberta, discussing his world-class water technology lab, and other experts working on technologies to solve problems in COSIA’s four environmental priority areas of land, water, GHGs and tailings.

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