Energy in Action Kicks Off Another Year

May 2, 2012

The Canadian Association of  Petroleum Producer’s annual Energy in Action program is ready for another year of activities in Alberta communities. The program provides CAPP member companies the opportunity to meet students in Grades 4 and 5 and talk about the importance of environmental stewardship.

For example, to kick off the program next week, Courtney Blackmore from Imperial Oil Resources will be at the Duclos School’s playground in Bonnyville, Alberta to help create an outdoor classroom. This will include installing seating, planting trees and building bird boxes with the kids. The community based program runs throughout the month of May and you can find more information each week’s activities on our energy calendar.

Canada-wide Operating Practices for Hydraulic Fracturing Established

February 8, 2012

In an ongoing attempt to address concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers last week identified six operating practices for its natural gas member companies. The operating practices complement regulatory requirements and support the Guiding Principles for Hydraulic Fracturing that the Association published in September 2011.

CAPP is encouraging its members to:

  1. disclose fracturing fluid chemical additives
  2. assess and manage the environmental and health risks associated with fracturing fluids
  3. conduct ground water testing
  4. monitor and report on water source and reuse practices
  5. ensure wellbore design and construction integrity and
  6. manage the risks associated with moving, handling and storing fracturing fluids.

CAPP’s member companies produce more than 90 per cent of Canada’s natural gas and crude oil. Although fracturing is not new, recent focus on the activity has prompted the industry to establish consistent practices across the country. These operating practices, and the subsequent results of implementation, which will be reported to the public, are designed to ensure responsible resource development and protection of the country’s water resources.

Planting the Seeds of Opportunity

July 26, 2010

Image: Cover page for The Enchanted Drill Bit written, illustrated and published by grade three and four students at Tilley School with support from Enerplus. Cover illustration by Delaney Tateson, grade four.

Elementary school teacher Janice Jensen and her students at Tilley School in Tilley, Alberta have taken environmental sustainability to a new level since the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ (CAPP) Energy in Action program visited their community three years ago.

On Tilley’s Energy in Action day in May 2007, students and oil and gas industry volunteers built indoor greenhouses that they use to grow food and flowers to raise money for the local food bank. The event also sparked a long lasting relationship between the school and companies that operate in the area.

Jensen saw the Energy in Action program as a window of opportunity. “A strong relationship with Enerplus and BP Canada was built that day and it has continued to this day,” she said. Since Energy in Action, Janice has worked closely on a variety of projects with BJ Arnold, Stakeholder Relations Advisor, and Lorne Schmidt, District Foreman, both of Enerplus. “It wasn’t just a one day event for them, they have stayed actively involved. The students get very excited when Lorne and BJ come to visit.”

Lorne and BJ have judged the school energy fair, spoke to the grade 3 and 4 class every year about oil and gas in the Tilley region, and they have continued to support the school’s environmental projects supplying donations for rechargeable batteries, greenhouses and compost bins.

Most recently, with advice from CAPP’s Energy in Action program, Janice and her students took advantage of BP Canada’s A+ for Energy grant and got more support from Enerplus to write, illustrate, and publish “The Enchanted Drill Bit,” a children’s book about the oil and gas industry and its products. The school will continue to seek industry support for environmental initiatives such as installing low-flow faucets and toilets in the washrooms so teachers, parents and students can learn more about the decisions everyone can make to reduce water and electricity use.

“These students are educators and mentors and it’s a privilege to work with a school that has such a passion for learning,” said Enerplus’ Arnold. “Enerplus is looking forward to continuing its relationship with the entire Tilley community for many years to come.”

Since 2004, 52 companies and more than 1,629 company volunteers have participated in Energy in Action events in 49 communities across Canada. Together they have planted nearly 4,700 trees and shrubs, and taught close to 5,000 students about energy resources and the benefits of careful resource development.

CAPP’s 2010 Steward of Excellence Awards

April 9, 2010

As an association representing Canada’s upstream oil, oil sands and natural gas industry, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is as conscious as any group about the difficulties of maintaining environmental credibility in oil and gas. As Flow explored in “The Great Oil Sands Journey”, oil companies have a complex story to tell in explaining the entire process of extraction and refining. And, in the end, there’s no doubt that the story that’s often told isn’t a positive one.

Broadly, CAPP addresses the issues of safety, environmental responsibility and community relations through its “stewardship” program. Updated annually in its Stewardship Report (2.7MB PDF), its member companies’ progress on initiatives ranging from lower-impact construction to improved safety protocols are highlighted through vital statistics and CAPP’s Steward of Excellence Awards, which began in 2007. Recognizing companies whose programs contributed to CAPP’s threefold mandate for stewardship (health and safety, environment and social), this year’s awards were distributed on March 15 at a dinner held in Calgary at the Westin Hotel.

Across the awards’ four categories, winners included BP, ConocoPhillips, Devon and the Horn River Basin Producers Group.

In the President’s Award category, BP won for reducing the environmental impact of Noel Major Project in North East BC. Through the use of new technologies and improved processes, BP was able to reduce the project’s carbon emissions by 85 per cent, while also reducing its footprint through a smaller number of wells and pipelines. Given the billion-dollar scale of the project, BP’s ability to cite the responsibility of its development is an important public tool.

ConocoPhillips, meanwhile, took the Steward of Excellence Health & Safety Award for its Advanced Safety Auditing (ASA) program. The program, designed to actively reinforce safe behaviours through (literally) exemplary leadership, led to a 61 per cent reduction in the company’s year-over-year Total Recordable Injury rate (TRIR). Just as important as the public face it presents, the health and safety of the oil and natural gas industry’s employees helps tell a story that begins inside the company itself.

For its use of minimal disturbance techniques in constructing access roads, Devon won CAPP’s Steward of Excellence Environment Award. In building roads through forested areas, Devon was able to reduce the size of its transportation corridors by 50 per cent and use the resulting mulch from the removed forest areas to layer the “right of way” (ROW) corridors.

Finally, in the “social” category, the Horn River Basin Producers Group took the award for its collaborative efforts, unifying 11 companies in their pursuit of a safe and responsible development of the titular Horn River Basin. With outreach that included an Oil and Gas Field Operations Training Program at the Fort Nelson campus of Northern Lights College, as well as supporting and participating in the 2008 Horn River Basin Economic Development Symposium, the producer group demonstrated the importance of both internal and external collaboration.

Together, these awards represent some of the actions being taken by CAPP members to improve the story being told about Canadian oil and gas development. Even if the resources they use have to be dug out of the ground, it makes sense not to make the public dig for positive facts about the industry.

Making the grade on energy

March 29, 2010

It’s easy to lose sight of our energy. After all, it’s invisible. Whether we’re silently fuelling our cars or turning on a light switch that allows current to flow, we use energy every day without actually seeing its source. But in a world that calls for increased energy efficiency and alternative approaches to the sources we’re used to using, losing sight of our energy just doesn’t work anymore.

In 2009, The Canadian Centre for Energy Information conducted a poll (376KB PDF) that found a full 59 per cent of respondents felt disconnected from energy policy-making decisions and only about half felt informed about energy issues in their country. This, despite the fact that a slate of (sometimes bizarre) technologies, alternate sources of transportation, and fundamental changes in the ways we use energy are changing our lives every day. Energy is changing, which means that our education has to keep pace.

Provincial and territorial energy strategy documents have consistently identified energy awareness as an important factor in any future energy plans. Alberta, for example, identifies awareness as one of its “Desired Outcomes” in its 2008 energy strategy document, while the Government of the Northwest Territories calls for “provid[ing] information and research on emerging technologies, their potential application in the NWT, and develop Alternative Energy Demonstration Projects” as one of its main energy strategy objectives.

To raise this awareness, governments have tried to educate energy consumers both on the way they already use energy — though energy efficiency campaigns, such as those produced by Quebec’s Agence de l’efficacité énergétique — and the ways in which energy is changing — such as demonstration projects like Nova Scotia’s Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Project. Government programs run the gamut from awareness campaigns to simple changes in existing programs, like Quebec’s resolution to provide efficient driving techniques as part of driver training, but they aren’t the only ones set to educate consumers. The energy sector, with its literal investment in the energy you use, regularly provides educational opportunities for consumers.

Among energy providers, energy conservation campaigns, like Enmax’s “GreenMax”, provide material benefits to consumers. Use less, they suggest, and pay less. Other outreach efforts, however, provide more direct educational programs. Here are three upcoming events produced by the private sector to educate Canadian consumers.

While new, more compact generating technologies provide an ever-increasing number of options for decentralizing our power, the electricity grid continues to play an essential role in our day-to-day lives. Presented by Inside Education, an upcoming Electricity Education Tour (April 22 – 24) will help participants take a look at the seemingly invisible net of electricity that powers Canadian homes.

Energy in Action (May 3 – May 28), produced by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has been providing community programs on energy since 2004. Its activities, designed to showcase the organization’s environmental stewardship — a common goal of industry outreach — will take place in schools across eight Western provinces this year.

GeoCanada 2010 (May 10 – 14), a conference that invites a raft of energy professionals will also include an educational component for the public. Five of them, in fact. From a poster competition designed to encourage students to consider geology in their communities to a full two-day program with hands-on exhibits, these GeoCanada Community initiatives are designed to share professionals’ knowledge with the general public.

More than a garden

July 13, 2009

Herb gardens, pumpkin patches, new spruce trees – these are just some of the results of a hard day’s work for elementary students participating in the Energy in Action Program.

The Energy in Action program is a collaborative endeavour of oil and gas companies under the auspices of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). The program spreads the message of environmental stewardship to students in grades four to six through an interactive classroom experience and a hands-on environmental project. In May, 35 oil and gas companies participated in events in 11 communities in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Besides spreading the stewardship message, the program also gives the students a better understanding of where energy comes from.

This happens during the first half of the day in the classroom with the help of CAPP’s education partner, Inside Education, a not-for-profit society that provides natural resources and environment education focused on forests, water, energy and related topics.

“It’s a fabulous program,” says Inside Education senior educator Anne Logan. “Everywhere we go we’re making a huge difference.”

Logan expands on what the kids are learning about sustainability in the regular social studies curriculum giving additional information on where energy comes from and how it is used in our everyday lives – information that often comes as a big surprise.

“(The kids) don’t always know all the products that are made from petroleum or that their furnaces burn natural gas,” says Logan, adding that by grade six they have a stronger understanding of the industry.

The program gives students a balanced presentation of Canada’s energy sources. A play teaches them how to get petroleum out of the ground and objects made from both the renewable and non-renewable energy industry are passed around the classroom.

According to Logan, while many of the students may be aware of pollution concerns associated with non-renewable energy they are often unaware of the numerous benefits and challenges related to the use of both renewable and non-renewable sources. Logan explains that, at their age, the students aren’t exposed to the economic, social and political issues surrounding energy development so it is up to the Energy in Action teachers to bring some balance into the discussion.

“We talk to them about how nothing is perfect, even wind and that each one of them has pros and cons,” says Logan. “They don’t understand that we can’t meet our energy needs just with renewables – we try and get them to see both sides.”

With the seed of stewardship planted during the morning’s lesson, the kids are able to cultivate this new knowledge through an outdoor activity that has meaning to their school and community. In each community, the kids take on a unique environmental project with the help of representatives from oil and gas companies with operations in the area, their teachers and community volunteers.

“All these communities have an environmental vision and if we can help them or participate in that, that’s what stewardship is all about,” says Energy in Action coordinator Laura Perry. “The program is a good opportunity for the kids to experience stewardship first hand and make a difference.”

For Perry, this year’s visit to Beaverlodge, Alberta is an ideal example of how Energy in Action gets entire communities excited about stewardship and fulfills CAPP’s vision of groups working together to complete the project and make it sustainable. Beaverlodge students planted spruce saplings along the river banks of a local farmer’s property with the help of the local municipality, Alberta Conservation, the Energy Resources Conservation Board, their teachers and representatives from ConocoPhillips, EnCana, Talisman, Canadian Natural Resources, Devon Canada and Bonavista.

In other cases, the stewardship activity is focused closer to home in the students’ schoolyard. Through Energy in Action concrete schoolyards are transformed into vibrant gardens and, in some cases, outdoor classrooms with shade trees, benches, sundials and weather stations.

As Anne Logan points out, “For some of these schools they didn’t have much in their schoolyards so this will make a big difference.”

Besides building knowledge of the energy industry and spreading the word about stewardship, the program also has benefits for participating companies. “Companies get to know the communities where they’re operating and get the opportunity to get to know the local town councils and get to know each other,” says Perry. Establishing these relationships helps the companies work better with each other and with the community on issues related to their operations in the area such as noise or environmental impacts.