Preserving Ecological Integrity

Corporate Responsibility

Preserving Ecological Integrity

The Great Sand Hills, located in southwestern Saskatchewan, covers an area of 1,900 square kilometers of intact native prairie grassland.  The region contains the largest set of active sand dunes in Canada.  It provides habitat to several rare plant and animal species and is sensitive to outside influences.
 
Canadian Natural is one of the largest oil and natural gas producer in the area, with 495 wells representing 46 per cent of the oil and natural gas production. Due to its ecological significance, it was imperative to develop a sound environmental protection plan to ensure the integrity of the region.
 
Canadian Natural worked closely with stakeholders and regulatory bodies to develop an ongoing environmental management program that conserves the characteristics and unique features of the Great Sand Hills region while allowing well-managed oil and natural gas exploration and development.  This management plan sets out guidelines for development on environmentally-sensitive land and includes key features such as minimal disturbance techniques, quantitative vegetation surveys, weed control, wildlife management and monitoring.
 
Working together with regulators plays an integral role in siting new locations for development while minimizing disturbance to the local environment.  Wherever possible, we strive to reduce the ecological footprint with a winter only heavy equipment activity protocol and remote sensing technology to reduce well site visits.  Our strong commitment to open communication with, and involvement of, all stakeholders and regulatory bodies continues to ensure environmental management and that the ecological integrity of the area is preserved while providing an opportunity for economic development in the region.
 
A field header serves as a collection point where all our buried natural gas pipelines connect to the surface. Canadian Natural's development in the Great Sand Hills focuses on ensuring that the ecological integrity of the area is preserved by using minimal disturbance drilling, reducing the need for land reclamation.
 
Canadian Natural also operates in the Manitou Sand Hills in Saskatchewan, a smaller region than the Great Sands Hills, but with similar ecological values and sensitivities. As part of the advisory committee with stakeholders, industry, interest groups, local rural municipalities, Crown land lessees, Saskatchewan’s Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, and Tourism Saskatchewan, we continue to work to ensure the integrity of the area. Annual meetings are held to discuss adherence to the land use plan - progress, concerns, accomplishments and next steps are discussed among stakeholders.
 
In 2015, the group participated in a heritage tour of the site with presentations about the history of both plant and human life, reinforcing the significance of the land itself, the importance of conserving it, and demonstrating the successful reclamation of the area to date. For Canadian Natural, the tour and the meeting provided a deeper understanding of the Manitou Sand Hills and further solidified our working relationships with regulators and the stakeholders in the communities we operate in.