Collaboration + Innovation = Energy Transition

2022 marks the 10th anniversary of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). Our members have made great strides in improving environmental performance in the oil sands through COSIA’s unique model of open innovation and collaboration. They have significantly reduced the impact of their operations on air, land and water over the last decade – and there is much more to come. In the next 10 years, you’ll see the oil sands industry progress towards net zero emissions in line with Canada’s climate goals, and sustainable development of Canada’s natural resource.

To date, COSIA members have invested more than $1.8 billion dollars in 1,100 projects. As a result:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions intensity has dropped by 20 per cent (2009-2018);
  • Freshwater use intensity has dropped by 46 per cent at in situ (in place) operations;
  • Net water use intensity from the Athabasca River has dropped by 25 per cent at mining operations;
  • The operating footprint intensity of in situ operations has dropped by 6 per cent since 2012.

A Unique Collaboration

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, read this commemorative interview with COSIA’s Chair Brenda Leeds Binder who has been there since the beginning, including the early days of getting this globally unique collaborative venture off the ground. Here, she shares her perspective on members’ achievements through COSIA’s and what’s yet to come.


COSIA Chair Brenda Leeds-Binder

COSIA Technology Advancements



Using sunlight to treat water

COSIA members are working with H2nanO on a treatment system for process-affected water from oil sands operations. Solar Pass™ continuously cleans the water using sunlight to power the technology.

H2nanO graphic



Carbon capture represents a key step in reducing GHG emissions. Turning that carbon dioxide into value-added products represents the next step in sustainability.

Novel use of amphibious vehicles

Traditional heavy equipment cannot work safely in wet peatland where restoration is most required. COSIA members piloted amphibious excavators to restore sites during the unfrozen summer months.

Amphibious vehicles

Coke treatment

Treating mine water for safe release

After more than a decade of research into treating mine water stored in tailings facilities with petroleum coke from an upgrader, this project is resulting in successfully treated mine water for safe release.

Base Mine Lake: a pit lake project

Base Mine Lake is the first commercial demonstration of a pit lake in the oil sands industry. Confidence in the full scale demonstration comes from almost 40 years of research into water capping technology.

Base Mine Lake

Sandhill Fen

Fen watershed an industry first

Sandhill Fen Watershed was designed, constructed, reclaimed and revegetated to establish the initial conditions for peatland development and develop construction and reclamation techniques for tailings deposits.

40 years of vegetation trends

Monitoring vegetation community trends has been going on for 40 years on these upland reclaimed sites. Long-term growth patterns are an important indicator of successful reclamation.

Vegetation Trends


Natural Gas Decarbonization technologies

COSIA members have identified 36 potential methane decarbonization technologies that split methane to make hydrogen and carbon fiber – which can be used in a growing new market.

World class testing facility

The Water Technology Development Centre is a first-of-its-kind demonstration site dedicated to piloting water treatment technologies on ‘live’ process fluids in real-world conditions.



Sharing mine water knowhow

COSIA’s annual Mine Water Workshop brings together representatives from government, industry and Indigenous communities to share knowledge and best practice and foster practical discussion.

Driving water use down

Industry has made great strides reducing its water use, one of the many aspects of environment management that it monitors and reports on. These efforts are paying off in a big way.


Driving water down

Fine tailings treatment technologies

Sometimes simple solutions can be effective at removing water from fine fluid tailings (FT). This mechanical filter can separate water from the FT mix, producing solids suitable for reclamation.

Tailings deposit settlement mode

How tailings settle in tailings facilities is important knowledge that can help to effectively manage these mining materials and incorporate them into the closure landscape sooner.



OSVC still going strong

For almost 15 years, the Oil Sands Vegetation Cooperative (OSVC) has been working to address vegetation needs from multiple angles and support reclamation efforts in the oil sands.

Best practice portal

Forest regeneration today is a sophisticated science and this silvicultural toolkit offers best practices and practical tips through a free, online portal. Virtual tours allows users to explore different project sites.



Prioritizing caribou habitat

This $40-million project, the largest of its kind, is reducing forest fragmentation in areas roamed by caribou and prioritizing the restoration of linear pathways and other habitat disturbances.

Solvent breakthroughs

Solvent technologies are demonstrating breakthrough potential to reduce—or potentially eliminate—the need for energy-intensive steam generation in steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operations.



Temporary forests grow faster

Seeding temporary forests on soil stockpiles, which store soil while the oil sands site is in use, has been found to set up final reclamation for greater success. The secret is in the nutrient-rich soil that’s created.


“The level of collaboration, and the deep trusting relationships that have emerged are truly impressive.”

- Brenda Leeds Binder, Director, Oil Sands Alliance, Governance & Integration, Suncor Energy


“All member companies have a net-zero emissions ambition, so the next decade will see COSIA play a significant role in helping develop solutions to meet the challenge of achieving this goal, while continuing to enable our industry to meaningfully contribute to the Canadian economy and remain a leader in responsible resource development.”

- Anamika Mukherjee, Cenovus Energy Director, Innovation

“Ten years in, COSIA members remain committed to accelerating environmental improvements in the oil sands through operationalizing collaboration and advancing technologies. I am most excited by the work underway to unlock new ways to reduce GHG emissions, such as through our new solvents consortium.”

- Peter Koning, Senior Director, Sustainable Development, ConocoPhillips Canada.

A catalyst for better environmental outcomes

From exciting new scientific discoveries to game-changing technologies (and everything in between), our focus is on innovation. Explore research, innovation opportunities and projects within our priority areas. Or, submit an idea for consideration.

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