RCE 2013: Safety, social and air pollutants improving; GHG emissions, water and land use challenges remain

November 05, 2013 - Calgary, Alberta

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) today released its 2013 Responsible Canadian Energy progress report, highlighting industry performance improvements and challenges in the key areas of people, air, land and water.

The 2013 Responsible Canadian Energy (RCE) report, compiled with 2012 data, provides industry performance information and analysis from a national perspective and regionally for Western Canada, the oil sands and the Atlantic Canada offshore, supported by data from CAPP members and from governments.

The RCE program, of which the report is a part, both reports on industry performance in key areas and is intended to promote and enable industry performance improvement over time.

"Annual industry-wide performance reporting is an opportunity to demonstrate the value and benefits a robust oil and gas industry provides, discuss our safety record, and our environmental advancements and challenges ,with a view to assessing how we are doing and identifying areas where the industry needs to improve its performance," said CAPP president Dave Collyer. "As we seek to diversify markets and grow production of crude oil and natural gas for the benefit of all Canadians, it is important that we also be transparent about our challenges and open the door to collaborative solutions."

2013 RCE Report Highlights

Overall, the 2013 RCE report shows ongoing improvements in the Canadian oil and gas industry's safety performance, its economic benefits to Canadians, and environmentally as the industry produced fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions. In 2012, performance challenges became more evident in other areas, such as greenhouse gas emissions and a larger land footprint. The total volume of fresh water consumed by our industry in development and production continues to increase with production growth, although the amount of fresh water withdrawn per barrel of production continues to decline.


  • Industry safety performance continued to improve in 2012, contributing to a 29 per cent decline in national total recordable injury frequency since 2008.
  • Upstream oil and gas payments to all levels of government in the form of royalties and lease sales averaged $18 billion per year.
  • In 2012, the industry employed more than 550,000 Canadians and provided upwards of $60 billion in annual investment.


  • GHG emissions (both absolute and per barrel of production) increased in 2012 due primarily to increased oil sands production.
  • The oil and gas industry's objective is to decrease the overall intensity of GHG emissions per unit of Canadian oil and natural gas produced over time, largely through the development and implementation of new technologies.
  • Oil sands crude is nine per cent more intensive than the U.S. crude supply average on a wells-to-wheels basis. "Wells-to-wheels" measures CO2 emissions from the start of oil production through to combustion (Source: IHS CERA 2012). Oil sands emissions account for 0.14% of GHG emissions globally, and 7.8% of Canada's GHG emissions.
  • Continuing a multi-year positive trend, national NOx and SO2 emissions (both absolute and per barrel of production) continued to decline, due to shifts in production mix and implementation of new technologies.
  • NOx emissions per barrel declined 18 per cent and SO2 emissions per barrel declined 19 per cent from 2008 to 2012.


  • Total volume of fresh water withdrawals increased slightly in 2012, while fresh water withdrawals per barrel of crude oil production in Western Canada (excluding oil sands) has remained relatively constant over the last four years at an average of 0.5 barrels.
  • Oil sands drilling operations used 0.4 barrels of fresh water per barrel of bitumen production in 2012 and oil sands mining operations used 3.1 barrels per barrel of bitumen production.
  • Oil sands mining companies withdrew 167 million cubic metres of fresh water in 2012, and 70 per cent of that water (116.5 million cubic metres) was sourced from the Athabasca River, representing 0.6 per cent of the Athabasca River's 2012 flow of 20.7 billion cubic metres.
  • There is significant seasonal variability in the Athabasca River's flows, so there is a particular need to manage withdrawals during the low flow season (winter). To prevent ecological risks to the river, the Government of Alberta and Fisheries and Oceans Canada restrict the amount of water that can be withdrawn during low flow periods to ensure sufficient flow is maintained in the river.
  • Calculated using the actual cumulative weekly withdrawals that mining companies made from the Athabasca River (Source: Oil Sands Developers Group) and the actual weekly mean flows recorded by the Water Survey of Canada (at the Athabasca River below Fort McMurray monitoring station), the highest percentage of weekly mean flow withdrawn in 2012 was 3.4 per cent and occurred in January.


  • Total surface land footprint is increasing as the industry grows. Technology such as horizontal drilling is helping to mitigate impact by allowing multiple wells to be consolidated onto single drilling pad sites.
  • Oil sands mining occupies 844 square kilometres of land, an area slightly larger than the City of Calgary, accounting for .02 per cent of the Canada's total boreal forest (Source: AESRD 2011).
  • An Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) report states the Lower Athabasca region's living resources are 94 per cent intact.
  • Only 0.02 per cent of Canada's boreal forest has been disturbed by oil sands mining operations over the past 40 years. Source: AESRD 2011.
  • "Canada's oil and gas industry is proud of the energy and economic benefits we deliver to Canadians each and every day," said Dave Collyer. "We recognize the need to reduce the intensity of our water use and GHG emissions while maintaining production growth," said Dave Collyer. "In particular, we must leverage investments in technology to reduce GHG emissions from Canada's oil sands, with the goal of being as good or better than competing supplies in North American markets."

RCE Advisory Group

CAPP's RCE Advisory Group advises and challenges industry to manage its risks effectively and to continuously improve its performance.

The advisory group, which consists of independent safety, environmental, labour, Aboriginal, academic, private, finance and investment communities, reviewed the 2013 RCE report and noted improvements in both performance and reporting. It also encouraged CAPP to continue efforts to develop more robust metrics and performance comparators, and to focus to the extent possible on safe transportation of oil and gas products.

In its report, the advisory group said: "We call for CAPP members to be aggressive and specific about performance ambitions and to report progress toward those ambitions .... RCE reports should be used by the public to assess the Canadian oil and gas industry's performance and significance at all scales - regional, national and global .... A broad perspective is required, recognizing the industry's contribution to Canada and the world, as well as the impacts of its operations and products throughout their full supply chain and lifecycle."

RCE performance data are in the attached tables. The full 2013 RCE report is available here.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) represents companies, large and small, that explore for, develop and produce natural gas and crude oil throughout Canada. CAPP's member companies produce about 90 per cent of Canada's natural gas and crude oil. CAPP's associate members provide a wide range of services that support the upstream crude oil and natural gas industry. Together CAPP's members and associate members are an important part of a national industry with revenues of about $100 billion a year. CAPP's mission is to enhance the economic sustainability of the Canadian upstream petroleum industry in a safe and environmentally and socially responsible manner, through constructive engagement and communication with governments, the public and stakeholders in the communities in which we operate.