Towards a Common Ambition

When COSIA launched in 2012, the world had never seen anything like it. The largest oil sands producers, competitors in every sense of the word, came together and asked themselves, when it comes to reducing the environmental footprint of the oil sands, how do we do things better?

Their answer – we’re better together.

In a signing ceremony of the COSIA Charter, the CEOs telegraphed their commitment to collaborative action – doing things like sharing intellectual property, giving each other free use rights to proprietary technologies, and collaborating on the discovery, design and development of new technologies – to accelerate environmental improvement.

Much more than an agreement to share, however, COSIA established a community of individuals with a common desire to work together towards a common ambition.

That community extends beyond the alliance, through the innovation leaders in our Associate Member program, to a growing network of global partners in government, business and academia. All are bringing greater dimension and depth to the problem solving going on inside COSIA.

It’s a model that is starting to see favour in other sectors, too, where competitors recognize the benefit of working together to address social and environmental issues posed by their industries – notably the beverage industry where fierce competitors, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, are part of an alliance to reduce their industry’s use of sugar in their products.

And it’s being applied more broadly to Canada’s energy sector.

The same motivating force for COSIA, is behind the creation of CRIN – a common ambition toward a future that Canadians see for our energy resources and our country.

The newly established Clean Resource Innovation Network, or CRIN, is a pan-Canadian network working across the energy spectrum. Like COSIA, CRIN is designed to tackle problems that must be solved, but may be too big for individual companies to tackle on their own. As a member of CRIN, COSIA’s community building and ideation can happen even faster. CRIN acts as a funnel for developers and users of Canadian energy, funders and financers of innovation, academic and government researchers and industry alliances including COSIA, to catch promising ideas from people and organizations looking to innovate in the different energy spaces, and more rapidly move ideas from concept to commercialization.

CRIN doesn't change COSIA, what we do or how we do it. COSIA is still the place for oil sands innovation. CRIN will not duplicate COSIA’s mandate or effort, but it will help to boost COSIA’s effectiveness by matching innovators, solution providers, and funders, more effectively and efficiently.

The same motivating force for COSIA, is behind the creation of CRIN – a common ambition toward a future that Canadians see for our energy resources and our country – to be a global leader in clean resource and meet our carbon ambitions, to be an innovation leader in energy technology and to position our country for long-term global competitiveness.

As Canada celebrates its 150th year, and Canadians think about how we want to shape our country’s future and how we’re viewed by the global community, we’ve determined that our approach to developing our natural resources must reflect that future.

The amount of innovation and solution exploration going on in the oil and gas sector is already incredible. At this year’s annual COSIA Innovation Summit, hundreds of innovations and technologies were highlighted. In this issue of Collaborator we feature one of those innovations - a technology being advanced by COSIA member, Suncor, called Direct Contact Steam Generation. Picture a rocket engine, fed by natural gas, air, and water, to generate steam that melts the bitumen, underground, separating it from the sand for recovery to the surface – and capturing greenhouse gases in the reservoir. That’s like creating instant carbon capture and storage.

Innovations like these are the next generation of innovations that COSIA members are focused on – and they hold the promise for realizing our ambitions. 


Dan Wicklum, Ph.D, is the Chief Executive of COSIA.