Our industry takes the responsibility of wildlife conservation seriously.
The Issue: Ensuring the Protection of our Wildlife
We do our best to ensure wildlife is protected. But the reality remains that our industry has had negative effects on wildlife, particularly in Western Canada. This is primarily because we work in areas where they live, leaving them vulnerable at times to our oil and gas development activities.
What We’re Doing: Minimizing our Impact
Reducing our footprint
Our industry is working hard to lessen our impact on wildlife and the land we use, through innovative techniques and respect for the areas we work in. Our techniques include using narrow seismic lines, directional drilling, drilling more wells together from one pad site and technologies to reduce the size of tailings ponds. We respect the areas we work in by avoiding sensitive habitats, optimizing the area we need for our well sites, and working with other users to overlap our disturbance footprint by sharing roads and pipelines.
Find out more about how we reclaim lands
Tailings ponds management
In open-pit mining, tailings ponds are needed to separate the tailings (a mixture of water, clay, sand and residual bitumen) and recycle the water. The tailings ponds created are large and impact the landscape. We work to prevent birds from landing on the ponds through the use of noisemakers that deter birds from landing on the ponds. Detering birds is an important part of the Government of Alberta's approval requirements for tailings ponds.
Our industry is committed to reducing the size of tailings ponds, as well as the time needed to return them to sustainable landscapes.
Find out more about how we manage tailings ponds
Using a Low Impact Seismic (LIS) approach
Wherever possible in exploring for oil and gas, we opt for narrower cut lines that meander and weave through forested areas, instead of the traditional large lines that cut a straight path. This may sound like a small measure, but traditional seismic lines were responsible for nearly 50 per cent of the sector’s footprint in Alberta’s forested regions. Now, the LIS approach (using mulchers rather than bulldozers to create narrow trails) is a standard practice throughout Alberta. This technique uses narrow mulchers rather than bulldozers to create narrow trails for seismic lines. By doing this, we avoid mature trees and do not disturb surface soils. This approach also helps to protect wildlife as predator sightlines are reduced.
Reusing old seismic lines for new work and accessKnowing where old seismic lines are helps us reduce our costs and lessen our environmental footprint for new work. Our industry is required to reuse existing lines where possible to reduce new impact. In some cases existing lines are unusable because they are too old or overgrown with plant life, so we add new narrower lines that meander and avoid new vegetation.
Collaborating with others
We’re actively collaborating with other industries, such as forestry, to ensure we disturb the least amount of area and wildlife possible. This prevents things like road duplication and also limits the time a developed region is disturbed.
Supporting wildlife projects
Our industry actively participates in specific projects that are dedicated to minimizing our impact.
- Alberta caribou recovery
The oil and gas industry, along with a number of other stakeholders, participates in this project, with a goal to balance industrial activities in northern Alberta with the conservation of caribou and their habitat. The industry supports a multi-million-dollar caribou research program to better understand how to mitigate any impacts on caribou.
- Supporting grizzly bear research
We not only contribute funds to grizzly bear research, but we also use the results of this program to make key operational decisions. For example, we will avoid putting a road through high-density grizzly bear populations.