“Nerds” Band Together to Combat Climate Change: Canadian Oil Sands Companies Lead the Way

People increasingly want energy sources that don’t have a climate change impact, and regulators are asking energy companies to reduce their emissions. All of this affects Canada’s energy landscape. Recognizing this shift, Generation Energy, is profiling representatives from the energy sector to understand how they use innovation and technology to support opportunities for a low-carbon future.

Nerds prove to be game changers

Anamika Mukherjee, Greenhouse gas specialist at Cenovus Energy and energy representative at COSIA.

Self-described “nerd” Anamika Mukherjee has proven to be a game-changer in clean energy.

A specialist in greenhouse gas (GHG) technology and strategy collaboration at Calgary’s Cenovus Energy, this “GHG nerd” is turning heads with her efforts in the worldwide battle against climate change.

"I’m proud to contribute to the work that’s being done in this area, to help figure out how we can produce our oil in the most efficient way while at the same time reducing our impact on climate change" says Anamika.

At Cenovus, they’re committed to reducing GHG emissions per barrel for their upstream operations by one-third, between now to 2026. That’s in addition to the one-third emissions intensity reduction they’ve already achieved at their oil sands operations since 2004.

"Our aspiration is to ultimately eliminate carbon emissions from production through to the end use of our oil, which is where the biggest opportunity exists. But we aren’t doing this alone," says Anamika.

Cenovus is leveraging bright minds globally through academia, entrepreneurs, industry peers and government to find solutions that address the growing demand for energy while eliminating GHG emissions across the full value chain - from oil wells to transportation, to refining through to the end use.

"We live in a time where the world wants answers from energy sources and [wants to] transition towards a clean energy future. And as an industry, if we are to be sustainable, it is our responsibility to be a part of that clean energy future."

Collaboration with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)

Anamika represents Cenovus at Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) in the area tasked with finding ways to reduce or eliminate emissions from oil sands operations. COSIA is an alliance of oil sands producers which are collaborating and sharing technologies and innovations in a way the world hasn’t seen before, all with the goal of accelerating their environmental performance.

Between them they share a common ambition to resolve the carbon footprint challenge by investigating ways to either prevent, reduce or manage GHG emissions through the development of innovative technologies. In addition to the GHG challenge, they also collaborate to improve the industry’s environmental performance in the areas of land, water and tailings.

One of the projects Anamika is working on advancing at COSIA explores using a molten carbonate fuel cell technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from a steam generator to create electricity. The power generated is nearly emissions-free because the CO2 would be captured and sequestered. Our participation in COSIA is an unprecedented opportunity for us to help improve our industry’s environmental performance even faster by making it easier for us to collaborate with our peers, said Anamika.

"Our participation in COSIA is an unprecedented opportunity for us to help improve our industry’s environmental performance even faster by making it easier for us to collaborate with our peers," said Anamika.

"This is the type of idea you couldn’t just do by yourself, this is a collaborative idea. COSIA does exactly that. It’s not just us talking to each other - it is reaching out globally trying to find as much information as we can."

Collaboration is a mutually beneficial relationship

COSIA is focused on accelerating the pace of improvement in environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands through collaborative action and innovation.

The alliance was launched in 2012 when representatives from Canada’s largest oil sands companies came together in Calgary to sign the COSIA charter, agreeing to regularly ask “are we doing things as best as we possibly can?”. The conclusion was that collaboration is a preferred model when it comes to improving environmental performance.

The power of COSIA is that it can tackle challenges that are important to solve, but that may be too big for one company to tackle on their own. Its members recognize that more can be done, faster, together, and by enabling cooperation and sharing between thinkers from government, industry, academia and the wider public.

"Greenhouse gas is one of the priority areas of our member companies, and the companies take their CO2 emissions very seriously", says Dan Wicklum, the organization’s Chief Executive.

"COSIA is important because the world has challenges in greenhouse gas emissions, and the more bright-minded energy leaders who are working collaboratively on finding solutions, the better it will be for generations to come", says Anamika.

Anamika Mukherjee, Greenhouse gas specialist at Cenovus Energy and the company’s representative at COSIA’s GHG environmental priority area:

"I feel other industries could take a cue from us and try this collaboration model that currently, I don’t think, exists anywhere else," says Annamika.