We all rely on energy — to keep the lights on, for transportation and to heat or cool our homes — which is why Teck is focused on the sustainable development of energy to meet global demand. We are building a new energy business unit, which holds significant production potential, in the Athabasca oil sands region of northeastern Alberta.
As with any resource development project, there are opportunities and challenges. With the oil sands, the environmental challenges — greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water use and tailings management, to name a few — are also opportunities to pursue step changes in efficiency and make the development of this resource more sustainable.
We hold a 20% interest in the Fort Hills oil sands project, which is under construction and is expected to produce first oil as early as the fourth quarter of 2017. Our proposed Frontier oil sands project is currently undergoing an environmental and regulatory review.
Both Fort Hills and Frontier are long-life assets of 50 years or more and they provide us with the opportunity to develop and implement long-term improvements in technology. The oil sands industry has a record of efficiency improvements. Since 1990, for example, GHG emissions per barrel of oil sands crude produced has been reduced by 26%. But we can do more and work continues on a variety of new technologies to lower GHG emissions, including liquid natural gas fueled haul trucks.
We are a founding member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), which is sharing research among companies to improve environmental performance in the oil sands. To date, COSIA member companies have shared information on 560 distinct technologies and innovations that represent research and development investments of over $900 million. Through this collaborative approach, members can accelerate the pace of environmental performance improvements.
For our Frontier project, we plan to use best practices for sustainable and responsible development, including the latest technologies and innovative techniques for tailings treatment, seepage control and reclamation. In addition, our plans include:
- Building a natural gas cogeneration plant to produce electricity for the project while using the byproduct heat in the extraction process to reduce GHG emissions
- Using the latest paraffinic froth treatment technology to produce a higher quality saleable bitumen product
- Using the latest technology to burn natural gas so that nitrogen oxide emissions are minimized
- Creating significant off-stream water storage capacity that will allow us to stop water withdrawal from the Athabasca River during low-flow periods
We have designed the mine to reduce effects on the environment wherever possible and will be addressing concerns through the regulatory and consultation process.
We value our relationships with Aboriginal communities near our Frontier project and spend a significant amount of time in these communities to hear and address concerns. We have engaged in meaningful consultation since 2008 and have provided substantial capacity funding to enable their technical engagement with us, including full technical participation in the Frontier Project Integrated Application review. We have also funded Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Land Use studies to inform project planning.
We are committed to building a new energy business unit through the responsible development of our oil sands projects in a manner that is both protective of the environment and respectful of communities, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, in the oil sands region.