Water, NOx, SO2 down, GHGs flat in 2011 despite higher production

December 05, 2012 - Calgary, Alberta

The Canadian oil and gas industry's 2012 Responsible Canadian Energy (RCE) progress report was released today by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

"Canada's oil and natural gas industry delivers energy to Canada and the world in a responsible way every day," said CAPP president Dave Collyer. "This report is an opportunity to demonstrate progress in key performance areas, to be candid about our challenges, and to encourage a collaborative approach to performance improvement."

The report provides 2011 industry performance information and analysis supported by data from CAPP members in the areas of people, air, water and land performance for Western Canada, Oil Sands and the Atlantic Canada offshore region.

Key indicators of 2011 performance include the following:

  • Industry safety performance improved as measured by both the number of fatalities and employee injury frequency;
  • Absolute GHG emissions remained relatively flat in 2011, while production slightly increased;
  • A multi-year reduction of absolute nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions continued in 2011;
  • Fresh water withdrawal per barrel of production continues to decline across the industry; and,
  • The total surface land footprint is increasing as the industry grows, although technology such as horizontal drilling is helping to mitigate impact.

CAPP's RCE Advisory Group, which consists of independent safety, environmental, social and industry experts, reviewed the report. They noted improvements in both performance and reporting, but also encouraged CAPP to continue efforts to develop more robust metrics and performance comparators.

Performance highlights:


CAPP member companies reported five fatalities in 2011 compared with seven fatalities in 2010. The injury rate declined from a total recordable injury frequency (TRIF) of 1.15 in 2007 to a TRIF of 0.89 in 2011. However, cumulative data indicates injury rate reductions are virtually unchanged and have plateaued since 2009 while total exposure hours have increased by about 10 per cent. This means that although injury rates in a larger workforce have been maintained at a low level relative to other years, the absolute number of injuries is up. Focus is needed on ongoing reduction in both the absolute number of injuries and injury rates.


Direct GHG emissions declined 0.5 per cent from 88.1 million tonnes in 2010 to 87.6 million tonnes in 2011 and indirect emissions increased slightly from 14.3 million tonnes to 14.8 million tonnes. Taken together, total GHG emissions remained flat at 102.4 million tonnes even while there was a one per cent growth in oil and gas production in 2011.

Overall GHG emissions intensity remained essentially flat in 2011 at 0.32 tonnes of GHG emitted per cubic metre of oil equivalent production. It is recognized that a shift to more energy intensive production methods such as oil sands and hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas, as well as in situ oil sands production, means reducing GHG emissions intensity will continue to be a challenge in the near term.

Industry continued a multi-year downward trend in SO2 and NOx emissions, despite more operating facilities and increased production of oil with higher sulphur content. National SO2 emissions from oil and gas operations declined by nine per cent in 2011, while NOx emissions declined by six per cent.


Fresh water withdrawals were down 12 per cent at oil sands mining operations to 2.7 barrels per barrel of production, 10 per cent at in situ operations to 0.36 barrels, and 17 per cent at Western Canada operations to 0.72 barrels. The declines are due to industry's successful efforts to improve recycling rates and use non-potable water sources where possible.


The total well count (active plus inactive wells) in Western Canada increased 14 per cent to 36,843 wells. Of the 32,684 abandoned conventional wells, 50 per cent are under active reclamation, 23 per cent are being assessed and 27 per cent are temporarily deferred. Total active footprint for oil sands mining operations was up seven per cent in 2011 to 76,070 hectares, including 10 per cent in some stage of the reclamation process.

"The oil and gas industry requires social license conduct its activities. Social license is broader than transparent measurement and reporting of industry performance data alone," Collyer said. "It must be underscored by the sincere belief that the upstream oil and gas industry - both companies and individuals - will behave responsibly and in the broader public interest."

The 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.