CAPP notes safety, environmental progress

The Canadian oil and gas industry improved safety and environmental performance last year in most but not all categories covered by the annual Responsible Canadian Energy progress report of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

An advisory group including independent safety, environmental, social, and industry experts reviewed the report.

Among findings for 2011:

• Fatalities reported by CAPP members declined to five from seven in 2010. The injury rate declined from a total recordable injury frequency of 1.15 in 2007 to 0.89 in 2011. Cumulative data indicate injury rate reductions are nearly unchanged since 2009, while total exposure hours have increased by about 10%. “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,” CAPP said. “Focus is needed on ongoing reduction in both the absolute number of injuries and injury rates.”

• Direct emissions of greenhouse gases declined to 87.6 million tonnes from 88.1 million tonnes in 2010, while indirect GHG emissions increased to 14.8 million tonnes from 14.3 million tonnes. Total GHG emission were unchanged, while oil and gas production increased by 1%. Emissions of sulfur dioxide declined by 9% in 2011 and of oxides of nitrogen by 6%.

• Withdrawals of fresh water declined by 12% in oil sands mining to 2.7 bbl/bbl of production. For in situ oil sands operations, fresh-water withdrawals declined by 10% to 0.36 bbl/bbl of production. In Western Canada operations, fresh-water withdrawals dropped 17% to 0.72 bbl/bbl of production. CAPP attributed the declines to improved recycling rates and the use of nonpotable water where possible.

• The total number of active and inactive wells in Western Canada increased by 14% to 36,843. Of 32,684 abandoned conventional wells, 50% are under active reclamation, 23% are being assessed, and 27% are deferred. The “total active footprint” for oil sands mining operations increased by 7% to 76,070 hectares, including 10% under reclamation.

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