An image of a pond with a walking dock. There are a row of flowers and grass in the forefront.
Canadians place a high value on the country’s fresh water resources. They want to know that Canada's oil and natural gas industry is using water responsibly, without undue negative impact on water quality or availability.

Our industry uses water in the following ways:

  • In oil sands mining, heated water is used to separate the sticky bitumen from sand and clay
  • In oil sands in situ operations, steam is generated to heat the bitumen underground, allowing it to flow to the surface
  • In older, conventional fields involving enhanced oil recovery, water is pumped down the well to force the oil out of the cracks and pores so it can be pumped to the surface
  • In hydraulic fracturing, water is pumped at high pressure into tight formations with low permeability to open fractures in the rock, allowing natural gas and crude oil to flow to a well for recovery

Our water priorities

Contamination avoidance

In recent years, much attention has been focused on the potential effects of industry`s activities on fresh water sources. Canada's oil and natural gas industry adheres to regulations and is committed to safeguarding water resources by ensuring appropriate systems are in place to minimize the risk of contaminating natural water systems.

Optimal water management

A challenge facing the oil and natural gas industry reducing fresh water use per barrel of production while continuing to develop resources. The majority of water used by industry can be stored and reused multiple times, thereby reducing the demand for fresh water from natural sources. Research and development of technologies to improve water reuse and recycling rates remains a priority for our members.

Monitoring water use

Oil and natural gas operators in Canada support sound scientific data collection and are collaborating with each other, with government, communities and scientists to acquire this data. These activities improve knowledge and management of regional surface water and groundwater resources.

The Water Technology Development Centre

Basil, a biochemical engineer working in Canada's oil sands industry, explains to his sister Mary how he is helping build the Water Technology Development Centre in northeastern Alberta. The facility will allow operators to efficiently test the development and implementation of new water treatment technologies in the industry. Learn more at energytomorrow.ca.

Marine environments

Atlantic Canada's offshore oil and natural gas industry is committed to developing resources responsibly and strives at all times to mitigate potential impacts on the environment.