Executive Summary

This project set out to identify and assess barriers to environmental technology deployment in the Canadian upstream oil and gas industry, and to propose ways and means of overcoming these barriers. Data collection took place from July to November 2004, involving a web survey, secondary research, a workshop held in Calgary (Oct. 27) and about two-dozen interviews.

The study found that:

  • Deployment of environmental technology in upstream oil and gas is more difficult than in other sectors.
  • Deployment of environmental technology is more difficult than for other types of technology.
  • Deployment of environmental technology in Canada is more difficult than in other countries. Barriers to increased deployment of environmental technology in upstream oil and gas include:
  • Perception of environmental technology solutions as a “cost” as opposed to cost savings
  • Non-competitive returns on investment + Small scale of many of the environmental technology solutions
  • The short-term focus of the industry and financial markets
  • Industry’s reluctance to foot the up-front costs of environmental technology.
  • Time required to implement the technology + Regulatory inconsistency and uncertainty
  • Measurement challenges
  • Insufficient enforcement
  • Prevailing attitudes

Despite all this, the upstream oil and gas industry has made progress in recent years. Reductions are occurring in several emissions categories. Flaring is perhaps the industry’s greatest success story. It is clear, nevertheless, that there is room for improvement. In particular, there may be “low-hanging fruit” where environmental benefits are available using existing technology for no or minimal financial detriment to industry.

A “best-practice technology” theme is suggested in order to encourage deployment of environmental technologies without invoking an onerous regulatory or enforcement regime. The recommendations that follow are essentially a series of enablers that will see best-practice environmental technologies not only developed and demonstrated but validated, deployed, shared and monitored, with the resulting “good news” better communicated.

Final Report