EcoLog,  1/17/2020

Is this the future of the oil and gas sector?

by Mark Sabourin

Calgary-based oil and gas company, Cenovus Energy Inc., has set ambitious environmental, social and governance targets to guide performance in four focus areas: climate and greenhouse gas emissions, Indigenous engagement, land and wildlife, and water stewardship. The company says it will reduce emissions intensity by 30% by 2030, and hold absolute emissions flat. Longer-term, Cenovus hopes to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus president and CEO, said change is underway, and companies that act decisively will position themselves for success, while those that fail to adapt will be left behind.

“A global transition to a lower-carbon future is underway and Cenovus intends to be a part of that future,” said Pourbaix in a lengthy statement describing the commitments.

Emissions reduction opportunities already identified include additional operational optimization, incorporation of cogeneration capacity into future oil sands phases, more extensive deployment of solvent technology, further advancement of the methane emissions reduction initiatives already in place, and additional operational efficiencies, including the use of data analytics.

The company will also look at initiatives that generate credible, additional and permanent carbon offsets.

“This is a great example of leadership at the individual corporate level, and signals the company’s willingness to go beyond current government requirements in response to investor and market pressure,” said Benjamin Israel, senior analyst at the Pembina Institute, in a statement. “Carbon competitiveness is becoming an increasingly critical measure of market competitiveness, as both investors and consumers look for more sustainable options,” said Israel.

Cenovus’ decision is a clear signal to policy-makers that companies are prepared to accept more stringent measures, Israel added.

Cenovus’ plan also includes spending at least $1.5 billion with Indigenous businesses over the next decade, completing the reclamation of 1,500 decommissioned well sites, investing in caribou habitat restoration, and further reducing the use of fresh water across its oil sands operations.

The company plans to report publicly on its progress in its annual environmental, social and governance reports. Performance against those targets will also be a factor in the determination of executive compensation, the company says, especially that of its president and CEO.

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