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.

These Noses Helps Scientist Know

April 3, 2012

In about 10 weeks, 4 dogs can sniff out and locate 1,500 scat samples of caribou, wolf and moose. That’s a lot of scat.

It might be a game for the dogs, but it’s serious research for Statoil Canada. The company recently received the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s Environment Performance Award for the development of the Scat Dog Program. This unique monitoring program has been in place for the last three winters in the oil sands region of northern Alberta.

The scat samples are examined by scientists to help determine what moose, wolf and caribou in the area are eating and where they are travelling. The scientists are also trying to assess how healthy each population is through DNA-based measures of population abundance and hormone-based measures of psychological, reproductive and nutritional health. Ultimately, the scientists hope to share their research results and suggest better ways to help manage the impact of resource development on wildlife.

Alberta Plans Single Regulator for Upstream Oil and Gas

February 15, 2011

Alberta Minister of Energy, Ron Liepert, announced the Alberta government accepted the recommendations (2MB PDF) of the government-appointed Regulatory Enhancement Task Force.

The task force was established to review Alberta’s upstream oil and gas regulatory regime and make recommendations to improve efficiency and competitiveness. The process included review and analyses of all current policies as well as extensive engagement of First Nations, the oil and gas industry, and individuals from landowner, municipal, and environmental groups.

The recommendations are:

  • Establishing a new Policy Management Office and ensuring integration of natural resource policies;
  • Creating a single oil and gas regulatory body;
  • Providing clear public engagement processes;
  • Using a common approach to risk assessment and management;
  • Adopting performance measures to enable continuous system improvement; and
  • Creating a mechanism to help resolve disputes between landowners and companies, and enforce agreements where required

Currently, regulation involves the Departments of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB).

The single regulator would be established as a new organization, building on the existing foundation of the ERCB. It would assume all regulatory delivery functions currently undertaken by Alberta Environment, Sustainable Resource Development and the ERCB, related to upstream oil and gas, and therefore have a much broader than that of the ERCB.

The single regulator would have unified responsibility for the regulatory functions required to issue upstream oil or gas project approvals, and to monitor compliance with approvals.

The Nuclear Option?

June 4, 2010

The world now waits to see if BPs new cap placed over the ruptured well will work. It could take 48 hours to know if the system is stable. The Gulf oil leak from BP’s destroyed Deepwater Horizon well continues unabated after the failure of several other efforts to contain it, from a giant concrete box to the so-called “top kill” effort to plug the well with mud. With the relief wells still months away, and the distinct possibility that even these wells might not provide immediate relief — the process isn’t exact, and the bore hole must line up exactly with the damaged well — some pretty extreme options have been tabled for sealing the well.

Among the most extreme of these options has been the possibility of using a nuclear explosion to seal the leaking well site. The Department of Energy has flatly denied that the nuclear option was ever on the table, but that hasn’t stopped the discussion from happening outside in the wild world of Internet speculation and general insanity. But with a disaster whose scope already eclipses the U.S.’s previous worst spill by thousands of barbells, is it any wonder that critics are starting to get a little extreme?

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.