On average, oil sands production generates two to three times more CO2 emissions than conventional crude oil production. However, most oil-related CO2 emissions are generated during end use. As shown by two studies in 2009 (produced by Jacobs Consultancy and TIAX LLC), when the full "wells-to-wheels" life cycle is considered, from field extraction to end use, CO2 emissions for vehicle fuels produced from oil sands rather than conventional crude oils refined in the United States are ultimately only about 5 to 15% higher.
Reducing these emissions is nonetheless an absolute imperative for us.
- For the Surmont SAGD project, we are aiming to reduce CO2 emissions to a level 12% below the current standards for SAGD projects. Among other ways and means we are working on to achieve that goal, we are studying a solvent-steam co-injection pilot developed with ConocoPhillips.
- For the Joslyn mining project, we are looking into different options for steam-electricity cogeneration.
- At the same time, we are assessing carbon capture and storage options that could qualify for our oil sands projects, making use of the experience gained from Total’s carbon capture pilot in Lacq, southwestern France. The technical choices we have made for our projects are compatible with CO2 capture, and the space requirements for these processes have been factored into the plan for future facilities.
We also actively participate in several work groups seeking to accelerate the introduction of carbon capture and storage in Canada: the Integrated CO2 Network (ICO2N).
Focus on regulation
The Government of Alberta has enacted legislation targeting the reduction of CO2 emissions. Facilities emitting more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas a year are required to reduce their emissions intensity by 12%. This reduction is phased in at a rate of 2% per year, starting in their fourth year of commercial operation. Greenhouse gas emissions have decreased of 23 million tonnes since 2007.