Imperial CEO: Oil sands challenges being met by industry, technology kep to responsible development

Source: Imperial Oil

Industry is meeting the challenges of responsible development of Alberta's oil sands for the benefit of all Canadians, the head of Imperial Oil, one of the country's largest oil-sands developers, told a Toronto audience today.

Speaking to the Toronto Board of Trade, Imperial Oil chairman, president and CEO Bruce March said the oil sands represent a tremendous opportunity for all Canadians, and that responsible development of this vast resource is a challenge the industry is meeting.

"Long before oil-sands development became an issue in the media, companies were committing significant resources to continuously improve their operations and develop new technologies to ensure continued improvements in environmental performance," March said, citing recent technology applications and new technologies being explored to reduce water use and greenhouse-gas emissions.

"These are concrete examples of how our relentless pursuit of technology, combined with our fundamental belief that we can always find new ways to improve, will deliver a reduced environmental footprint from oil sands development. Unfortunately, our record of continuous improvement has been missing from the debate on oil sands development."

March said Imperial's commitment to research and technology development is evident in the success of the company's Cold Lake in-situ project in northeastern Alberta, which in 2009 produced its billionth barrel, while continuously improving its environmental performance. The Kearl mining project, currently under construction near Fort McMurray, Alberta, will take lessons learned at Cold Lake, and utilize new technologies to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

Investment in research and technology development is a commitment Imperial has maintained throughout its history, March noted. In the area of oil sands development, for example, Imperial has invested $70 to $80 million annually in research to develop the next generation of oil sands technologies, a total of nearly $400 million since 2005.

March told the Toronto audience that Canadians do not have to choose between energy security, economic well-being and a clean environment. "It's not an either-or proposition," he said. "Both a healthy environment and a strong economy are important, and all of us should expect nothing less, or be satisfied with nothing less."

Imperial Oil is one of Canada’s largest corporations and a leading member of the country’s petroleum industry. The company is a major producer of crude oil and natural gas, and one of the largest petroleum refiners and marketers with a coast-to-coast supply network that includes more than 1,800 retail service stations.

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