ConocoPhillips has joined an alliance of five other companies that aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands operations by 2050.

Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero, made up of Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, Imperial Oil, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy, plans to eventually eliminate 68 megatonnes of emissions annual, working through three phases.

The companies involved make up 95% of Canada’s production from oil sands.

The oil sands accounted for 63% of Canada’s oil production in 2019 or 2.95 million barrels per day, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRC).

Oil sands, according to NRC, account for 12% of Canada’s total GHG emissions and 0.2% of global emissions.

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"Meeting the world's energy demand during a transition to a lower-carbon future requires an approach that recognizes the need to reduce emissions, operate responsibly and offer competitive returns," said ConocoPhillips Canada president Bij Agarwal.

“We are fully committed to putting our ESG leadership into action by investing in the advancement of transformational technologies."

Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero will operate by finding “realistic and workable solutions to the challenge of climate change”. Its members are expected to make the investments needed to successfully transition to a net-zero economy.

Some of the solutions already identified include carbon capture, utilisation, and storage, switching to low-carbon fuels like hydrogen and electricity to power oil sands operations, and improving energy efficiency at facilities.

A carbon capture network is being planned to capture and transport carbon dioxide to a storage hub near Cold Lake in Alberta.

While the alliance is intended to reduce GHG emissions, it also plans to preserve the more than $3 trillion in contributions to Canada’s gross domestic product that members say the oil sands can make over the next 30 years.

"We're extremely pleased to have ConocoPhillips join our alliance, which now represents companies from almost all of Canada's major oil sands facilities," Pathways Director Al Reid said.

"Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time and having their global and Canadian oil sands expertise makes our alliance even stronger, adding to our efforts to achieve net-zero GHG emissions from our operations by 2050."