Canada oil sands producers form alliance to share environmental technology

Canadian oil sands producers have formed a new alliance named Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), seeking to accelerate the pace of improving environmental performance in Canada's oil sands.

Companies to sign the deal include BP, Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips, Devon, Imperial Oil, Nexen, Shell, Statoil Canada, Suncor Energy, Teck Resources and Total.

CEOs of those 12 companies signed the alliance's founding charter, committing to COSIA's vision to "enable responsible and sustainable growth of Canada's oil sands while delivering accelerated improvement in environmental performance through collaborative action and innovation."

The creation of COSIA as an independent alliance builds on work done over the past several years by both oil sands industry members and research and development organizations, the group said.

COSIA says it will take these efforts to a much larger scale and seeks to help the industry address environmental challenges by breaking down barriers in the areas of funding, intellectual property enforcement and human resources that may otherwise impede progress.

COSIA's collaborative approach will accelerate the discovery and development of environmental technologies and reduce the time from idea to implementation, top officials said.

"The public's expectation of environmental performance in the oil sands continues to evolve. We want to meet those expectations and we'll work collaboratively to do so, building on previous successes," said John C. Abbott, executive vice president of heavy oil for Shell Canada.

"Coming together today to sign the charter is a significant and important step for all our companies and marks a pivotal point for our industry,” he added.

COSIA also announced Dr. Dan Wicklum as CEO of the new alliance. Dr. Wicklum has a background in environmental science and was selected following a national search.

The organization said his scientific qualifications and leadership experience position him well to lead COSIA, a science-based alliance focused on environmental technology and innovation.

"I am confident COSIA will greatly accelerate innovation and environmental performance in priority areas that Canadians care most about," said Dr. Wicklum.

"Today is just the beginning and I am excited to be part of this new alliance. We understand we have a lot of work to do and we are looking forward to working with our stakeholders and reporting on our progress along the way."

COSIA will establish structures and processes through which oil sands producers and other stakeholders can work together for the benefit of the environment, it said.

The alliance will identify, develop and apply solutions-oriented innovation around the most pressing oil sands environmental challenges, specifically water, land, greenhouse gases and tailings, and will communicate COSIA's efforts and successes in addressing those challenges.

Jean-Michel Gires, CEO of Total E&P Canada, said COSIA creates a new dynamic for the oil sands industry, promoting new approaches for intellectual property management of environmental technology and better working relationships with universities, research agencies, technology providers, regulators and oil sands stakeholders in the communities where industry operates.

"COSIA is a reflection of how the oil sands have evolved into a global resource, with companies committing to foster continuous innovation and the development of new environmental solutions,” Gires said.

“We have seen what can be achieved when we work together and multiply our ideas and efforts. For example, work done by the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI) and the Oil Sands Tailings Consortium (OSTC) are already delivering technology that promises to reduce our environmental footprint,” he continued.

“We want to build on these previous successes across COSIA's environmental priority areas and accelerate the improvement of our environmental performance.”

Companies participating in COSIA will contribute at varying levels to the alliance, based on their own areas of expertise, officials said.

COSIA will rely on the input of scientists and engineers from within the ranks of the member companies, as well as leading thinkers from government, academia and the wider public.

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