Cenovus Mulls Renewable Energy Amid Shift to Low-Carbon Crude

  • Main focus remains oil sands development, CEO Ferguson says
  • Canadian company looks to reduce emissions by 50 percent

Solar panels and wind turbines may find a home alongside Cenovus Energy Inc.’s future low-carbon oil-sands business as the Canadian producer adjusts to changing patterns of supply and demand for energy.

Cenovus has had discussions about renewable energy investments, said Chief Executive Officer Brian Ferguson, in an interview in Montreal Tuesday where he spoke on a panel about the future of energy. Solar will be an important part of the energy mix in the future, he said.

“Over the next two to three years our prime focus is going to be around the emissions side of oil, both in terms of production and consumption,” Ferguson said. “Longer term,
depending on economics, we will certainly be looking at” renewable energy investment.

Cenovus, Suncor Energy Inc. and their oil-sands competitors are testing new technologies such as solvents and microwaves to melt the bitumen buried under the boreal forest in a bid to lower costs and emissions. Even as countries around the world shift to using wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy, oil and natural gas will still have a role to play in supplying a growing population with transportation, light and heat, Ferguson said.

The Calgary-based company, which along with Suncor has invested in a clean tech fund, expects to lower emissions per barrel by 50 percent over the coming years, he said. Improvements in technology will help the company achieve its goal of reducing all the carbon emissions associated with the production of crude.

“We’ve seen dramatic changes globally in supply in the last five years, and in
the next five years we will see significant improvements again,” the chief executive said.

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