Cenovus Energy

An industry source told Breaking Energy last November the two greatest challenges companies operating in Alberta’s oil sands region face are access to markets and skilled labor. Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes elaborated on these and other issues during a recent phone call.

In a scenario where the Keystone XL Pipeline is not approved by the Obama Administration, Minister Hughes said companies have lots of different options and that rail has become “compelling.” Although generally less efficient than transporting oil via pipeline, rail could be used to bring Canadian oil as far as the Gulf Coast and maybe the West Coast and Mid-continent as well, he said. Keep reading →

It’s telling that a panel discussion about using technology to reduce the environmental impacts associated with Canadian oil sands development ended up mainly being about dire market access issues impacting producers.

At the FT Global Investment Series: Focus on Canada conference held in New York City this week, corporate executives were clearly concerned about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands projects, but they were also very concerned about the billions of dollars being lost from commodity price differentials between Canadian heavy oil and other grades. Keep reading →

Oil sands producers found themselves in the midst of a fresh attack from the environmental community when a new study released Monday identified levels of oil sands-related contamination that appear to have intensified since the beginning of commercial development to present day. Core samples extracted from 6 regional lakes showed the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons up to 50 miles north of Fort McMurray, Alberta – the hub of oil sands mining activity.

“Our research tells a consistent story of increased contaminants and ecological change that has occurred in the region since industrial development of bitumen resources began,” Joshua Kurek, a postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s University, Department of Biology is quoted as saying on the university’s website. Keep reading →

While eating lunch at a recent energy conference with the usual random selection of delegates and speakers, I asked the co-founder of a leading energy venture capital firm what technology he finds most exciting right now. Without hesitation, he began telling me about his company’s ambitious, longer-term bet on a small nuclear fusion company. He then put me in contact with his partner and co-founder, who helped fill in the details for this story. Keep reading →

Canada’s oil sands industry has taken a major leap toward greening their operations and their image. The 12 largest producers – accounting for 80% of oil sands production – have come together to form Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, which has committed to accelerating the pace of environmental improvement, COSIA CEO Dan Wicklum told Breaking Energy recently.

Numerous environmental oversight organizations sprung up organically over time to ensure oil companies were honoring their commitment to the environment. While these ad hoc sustainability initiatives made positive strides, the public wanted more. As a result, COSIA was formed and the chief executives of each member company signed a charter on March 1st committing them to specific activities and behavior. Keep reading →