Tag Archives: oil sands

AXIS to cut thermal coal, oil sands from insurance & investment portfolio

AXIS Capital has announced a new policy that will see it exit the market for insurance or facultative reinsurance for the construction of new thermal coal plants or mines, or oil sands extraction and pipeline projects.

The global provider of specialty lines insurance and treaty reinsurance said the policy is a component of a broader corporate citizenship program led by AXIS General Counsel, Conrad Brooks, and overseen by AXIS President and CEO, Albert Benchimol, and the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee of the AXIS Board of Directors.

This policy, which extends to dedicated infrastructure for coal and oil sands projects, will also see the company no longer offer cover to companies that generate 30% or more of their revenues from thermal coal mining, generate 30% or more of their power from thermal coal, or hold more than 20% of their reserves in oil sands.

And, in terms of investments, AXIS said it will not make new investments in companies that generate 30% or more of their revenues from thermal coal mining, that generate 30% or more of their power from thermal coal, or that hold more than 20% of their reserves in oil sands.

The company added: “Renewals will be considered on a case-by-case basis until January 1, 2023. Exceptions to this policy may be considered on a limited basis until January 1, 2025, in countries where sufficient access to alternative energy sources is not available.”

This is part of a wider program that focuses on four key areas: environment, diversity & inclusion, philanthropy and advocacy, AXIS said.

Benchimol explained: “We believe insurers have an important role to play in mitigating climate risk and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. This policy is in line with our broader strategies such as reducing investments in lines that do not align with our long-term approach; investing in growth areas, such as renewable energy insurance where we are a top five global player; and growing our corporate citizenship program, a core focus of which is creating a positive environmental impact.”

Brooks added: “We strive to ensure that every business decision we make is guided by our corporate values, and we believe this new thermal coal and oil sands policy is the right thing to do for our planet and our business.”

AXIS joins several other insurance companies to make plans to exit or reduce their exposure to thermal coal including Zurich, Chubb, Suncorp, Generali, Munich Re and Vienna Insurance Group.

International Mining is currently putting together its first feature on Mining Insurance, which will be published in the November issue

Suncor to cut GHG emissions by 25% with natural gas project

Suncor has made the decision to replace its coke-fired boilers with two cogeneration units at its Oil Sands Base Plant, in Alberta, Canada, as it looks to lower its carbon footprint within the province.

The cogeneration units will provide reliable steam generation required for Suncor’s extraction and upgrading operations and generate 800 MW of power, the company said.

The power will be transmitted to Alberta’s grid, providing reliable, baseload, low-carbon power, equivalent to around 8% of Alberta’s current electricity demand. This project will increase demand for clean natural gas from Western Canada, Suncor said.

Mark Little, President and CEO, said: “This is a great example of how Suncor deploys capital in projects that are economically robust, sustainability minded and technologically progressive.

“This project generates economic value for Suncor shareholders and provides baseload, low-carbon power equivalent to displacing 550,000 cars from the road, approximately 15% of vehicles currently in the province of Alberta.”

The project cost is estimated to be C$1.4 billion ($1.06 billion), delivering a high teens return and projected to be in-service in the second half of 2023.

“This project will substantially contribute to the company’s goal of an increased C$2 billion in free funds flow by 2023,” the company said. “This will be achieved through oil sands operating cost and sustaining capital reductions along with margin improvements. It will also contribute materially to Suncor’s publicly announced greenhouse gas (GHG) goal.”

Replacing the coke-fired boilers with cogeneration will reduce GHG emissions associated with steam production at Base Plant by some 25%. It is also expected to reduce sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 45% and 15%, respectively, the company says.

The cogeneration units will eliminate the need for a flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) unit, which is currently used to reduce sulphur emissions associated with coke fuel. Decommissioning the FGD unit will reduce the volume of water the company withdraws from the Athabasca River by around 20%.

“By producing both industrial steam and electricity through a single natural gas-fuelled process, cogeneration is the most energy-efficient form of hydrocarbon-based power generation. Suncor believes this project will contribute to both Alberta and Canada’s climate ambitions.”

Komatsu Mining puts down roots in Western Canada with $40 m facility

Komatsu Mining has announced plans for the construction of a new facility to support the growth of its mining business in Western Canada, a region known for the oil sands industry, as well as significant coal operations.

The company plans to invest approximately $40 million to construct a 85,000 sq.ft (7,897 sq.m) sales and service facility in downtown Sparwood, British Columbia (artists impression shown), where the company has been operating for more than 30 years, it said.

Komatsu plans to break ground at the new site in early August, with construction to conclude by the end of 2020.

Steven Droste, Komatsu’s Regional Manager – Western Canada, said: “This facility will be a great new place of work for our employees while enhancing our capabilities, so we can continue to provide our customers unrivalled service delivery.”

Komatsu will continue to operate out of its leased facility in Sparwood until the new building is complete. The company purchased the 15 acre (6 ha) parcel for its new facility from the District of Sparwood and is working to prepare the land for development, it said.

Canada provides investment for clean oil and gas projects in Alberta

The Government of Canada has announced C$72.3 million ($54.4 million) in funding for three clean technology projects in Alberta’s oil and gas sector.

The recipients, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Titanium Corp, are working on an in-pit extraction process that separates oil sands ore into solids, bitumen and water; new steam turbine generator technology to help produce power for its facilities; and a technology designed to remediate oil sands tailings.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi, said: “These projects provide Alberta’s oil and gas sector with solutions that will help reduce pollution, drive clean innovation and create good jobs.

“Accelerating clean technology development is a key component of our government’s approach to promoting sustainable economic growth as Canada moves toward a low-carbon economy.”

As part of the funding, which will reportedly leverage more than C$415 million in investments, Canada Natural will receive C$5 million from the Clean Growth Program (CGP) to further develop an in-pit extraction process that separates oil sands ore into solids, bitumen and water at its Horizon oil sands mine site. This will reduce the number of diesel trucks and the amount of power needed, according to the government. At the same time as this, Emissions Reduction Alberta is investing C$5.6 million to support this project through its Oil Sands Innovation Challenge.

Canadian Natural will also receive C$22.3 million from the Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF) for a new steam turbine generator technology for power production at its Athabasca oil sands project (AOSP) facility. This new technology is expected to reduce emissions. The AOSP is owned by Canadian Natural, Chevron Canada Ltd and Shell Canada Ltd.

Titanium Corp, meanwhile, will receive a total of C$45 million from the CGP and LCEF for a technology designed to remediate oil sands tailings at Canadian Natural’s Horizon oil sands site. “The project has the potential to create a new high-value minerals industry for Western Canada by facilitating the recovery of valuable minerals (zircon and titanium-bearing minerals) from oil sands tailings,” the government said. An additional C$10 million has been committed by Emissions Reduction Alberta to further support this project, it added.

Tim McKay, President of Canadian Natural Resources, said: “Canadian Natural, and Canada’s oil and natural gas sector, recognise the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensities and we have been able to leverage technology and Canadian ingenuity to deliver significant results. In fact, Canadian Natural’s Horizon oil sands operations has reduced our GHG intensity by 31% from 2012 to 2017. At today’s production levels, that’s equivalent to taking 665,000 cars off the road.

“Canada’s oil and natural gas should be considered a premium product and have a major role for decades to come in providing responsibly produced, low GHG-intensity oil and natural gas to growing economies while reducing overall global GHG emissions.”

Scott Nelson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Titanium Corporation, said: “This significant funding commitment from the Government of Canada is a critical step in advancing the first implementation of our Creating Value from Waste™ clean technology. Government and industry support and collaboration has been invaluable in moving our project forward and developing this made-in-Canada solution for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The Creating Value from Waste project at Canadian Natural’s Horizon oil sands site includes a design for a commercial scale plant that entails building a new facility next to existing bitumen froth treatment plants and applying a secondary stage of treatment before the waste from froth treatment enters the tailings pond. The Creating Value from Waste tailings remediation technologies are designed to reduce the environmental footprint of tailings ponds by recovering valuable bitumen, solvents and minerals, resulting in a cleaner tailings stream.

Natural Resources Canada’s CGP is a C$155-million investment fund that helps to advance emerging clean technologies toward commercial readiness so natural resource operations can further reduce their impacts on air, land, and water, while enhancing competitiveness and creating jobs.

The LCEF is divided into two parts:

  • The Leadership Fund provides up to C$1.4 billion to provinces and territories to leverage investments in projects and programmes that will generate clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to support the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change;
  • The Challenge component provides over C$500 million in funding to support projects that leverage ingenuity across the country to reduce emissions and generate clean growth. The Challenge is being delivered through two streams:
    • The Champions stream, valued at C$450 million, was open to provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and organisations, businesses and not-for-profit organisations;
    • The Partnerships stream, valued at C$50 million, was launched on December 20, 2018, and is targeting smaller applicants, including small businesses, not-for-profit organisations, smaller municipalities and Indigenous communities and organisations.

MGX gears up for lithium extraction testing in Alberta oil sands

MGX Minerals has moved a step closer to its goal of extracting lithium from oil and gas wastewater with the announcement that its engineering partner has delivered the first treatment system to a facility north of Edmonton, Canada.

The commercial-scale 750 bbl/d advanced wastewater treatment system, delivered by MGX’s engineering partner PurLucid Treatment Solutions, is currently in the final phase of electrical connection and will be in operation shortly, the company said.

MGX and PurLucid expect to begin processing concentrated evaporator blowdown wastewater under an existing agreement with an oil sands steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operator in early November. Shortly after, they expect to start processing additional wastewater containing lithium from a second oil sands SAGD operator.

MGX’s rapid lithium extraction technology eliminates or greatly reduces the physical footprint and investment in large, multi-phase, lake-sized, lined evaporation ponds, as well as enhances the quality of extraction and recovery across a complex range of brines as compared with traditional solar evaporation, the company says.

It is applicable to petrolithium (oil and gas wastewater), natural brine, and other brine sources such as a lithium-rich mine and industrial plant wastewater.

Back in August, after a number of successful pilot test results, the company signed up Hatch to advise it on the scaling up of its technology in the western US.

PurLucid’s exclusively licensed and patented nanoflotation technology, meanwhile, is designed specifically for oil field environments, separating impurities from oil and gas wastewater and producing clean water as a final product.

The brines from the SAGD operations will be processed for lithium recovery, wastewater purification and disposal of residuals, MGX said.

The delivery of this latest system has been aided by government funding.

PurLucid was awarded a non-repayable contribution totalling up to C$8.2 million ($6.3 million) in government funding to support the commercialisation of a low energy water treatment system for the oil and gas industry.

This has enabled the company to develop the commercial-scale system now on site in Canada and also bring a second 1,500 bbl/d system to “near completion” at PurLucid’s manufacturing facility in Calgary, Alberta, according to MGX.

This second facility is expected to be deployed in approximately 60 days with additional wastewater and mineral extraction systems to rapidly follow throughout 2019-2020, MGX said.

Jared Lazerson, MGX President and CEO, said: “The combination of cleaning wastewater and extracting minerals sets the stage for a bright future for MGX as we move into the revenue phase of our growth cycle with this globally applicable, low capital intensive, and most importantly, scalable technology.”