We incorporate environmental considerations and planning into all phases of our projects and work co-operatively and effectively with communities, government agencies and stakeholders to reduce the potential impacts of our operations.
A key component in our environmental planning process is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). An EIA provides long-term management and mitigation strategies to ensure our major projects meet environmental, social and economic commitments which are developed in consultation with stakeholders. EIAs are an important tool in our regulatory applications that support our growth and development plans by providing a thorough understanding of the potential project related impacts. Environmental and socioeconomic impact assessments highlight any regional risks to be addressed in project planning. For example, we filed integrated regulatory applications with the Alberta Energy Regulator and Alberta Environment and Parks for the different phases of our thermal in situ oil sands projects, which included an EIA. Canadian Natural also documents traditional ecological knowledge that is shared by Aboriginal communities and considers its use when compiling baseline environmental information, developing monitoring programs and planning mitigation (e.g., reclamation).
When developing new projects, we recognize environmental and historical aspects associated with operating in or near there areas, and work very closely with the respective administrative authorities for these areas, following our corporate statement regarding the environment. Our approach includes:
- Title search – this identifies ownership of the lands for proposed development, as to whether or not our proposed development is on crown land, freehold land, provincial or federal park, etc.
- Review of the provincial “Listing of Historic Resources” to determine if a proposed development may affect historic resources, including archeological and paleontological sites, Aboriginal traditional use sites of a historic resource nature (burial, ceremonial sites etc.), and/or historic structures.
- If the proposed development falls on provincial or federal park lands, we work closely with provincial parks or Parks Canada to determine steps involved, including EIAs as required.
- If the proposed development falls on any historic lands identified in the listing, we work with provincial culture and tourism authorities, and perform Historic Resources Impact Assessments with professional archeologists as required.
- In some cases, we are required to consult with respective Aboriginal Communities for development on these lands.
- In all cases, efforts are committed to minimizing our footprint.
We work with government, industry, and other stakeholders to implement and advance environmental policy and initiatives involving air, land and water. As a member of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) we are involved in various regional multi-stakeholder groups.
The Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have established frameworks for the management of air, land and water. As part of our commitment to protect the environment, Canadian Natural has adopted those frameworks into our operating practices to implement comprehensive mitigation plans for sensitive landscapes, wildlife and aquatic systems. We also participate in research programs for land planning, caribou restoration and reclaimed land. For example, within Alberta, our activities adhere to the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) regional framework. LARP is a comprehensive plan that takes into account effects of all regional activities on air, water, land and biodiversity. These environmental frameworks establish, for instance, limits on emissions to protect the air, restrictions on water use to protect water quality and water withdrawals, tailings reclamation timelines, increasing the amount of conserved land, etc.
Canadian Natural supports environmental monitoring as a part of managing development in a responsible manner. We support openness, transparency, and the generation of scientifically reliable data that addresses the public/stakeholder concerns related to oil sands operations. Environmental monitoring allows us to continually measure our performance, establish targets, and work towards improvement. Monitoring of air emissions, water use and land disturbance occurs at our larger facilities. We participate in local and regional air monitoring programs in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as federal monitoring programs, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting programs, that quantify and publicly report our performance.
We also support regional monitoring of the oil sands conducted by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), to assess the state of the environment and cumulative effects, to maintain ecological functions and restore areas as part of long-term reclamation planning. This includes elements related to air, land and water, all of which are important to stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities. Canadian Natural works closely with the Fort McKay First Nation, located near our Horizon operations, to improve monitoring on traditional land.
Additionally, we are committed to accelerating the pace of environmental performance improvements in Canada’s oil sands and actively participate and share best practices with industry.