Oil and gas


Fuel for transportation, power generation, space heating, industrial processes, and petrochemicals

GHG emissions

193 MtCO2eq (2018) Canada’s largest source of GHG emissions, 26% of national total

Options for decarbonization

Reduce production emissions from oil and gas sector to reach net zero; develop net-zero energy products derived from fossil sources; phase out fossil-based energy exploitation

Stage of transition


Nature of the problem today

Entrenched political and financial interests, infrastructure lock-in, up-front capital costs, insufficient policy signals

Other systemic issues

Deep economic dependence on oil and gas industries, especially in producing regions; major problems with air and water pollution, contaminated sites; abandoned wells

Opportunities and concerns

Diversify economies of producing provinces away from traditional oil and gas production and associated boom/bust cycles; avoid stranding assets and further entrenching carbon lock in; leverage existing labour skills, industry resources, and infrastructure into new opportunities; develop, deploy, and export emission-reducing technologies

Priorities for action

Develop R&D and infrastructure for production of zero emission fuels (hydrogen or electricity) and geothermal energy, and material uses of bitumen. Dramatically improve energy efficiency and emission profile of existing oil and gas extraction. Scale back investment in the sector not geared to an ultra low emission future

Longer-term issues

Phase out traditional oil and gas extraction; reclamation liabilities; developing net zero carbon offset markets

Indicators of progress

Sector emissions, net-zero by 2050 business plans with 2030 targets

Assessement table: Oil and Gas

Oil and gas production (non-oilsands)

Methane emission reduction

Machinery equipment and vehicles

Oil sands production

Equipment and vehicles

Low carbon electricity for SAGD or other approaches

Alternative extraction approaches

Artificial intelligence & machine learning

Artificial intelligence & machine learning

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) across the industry

For energy production, bitumen upgrading, hydrogen production, refining, etc.

Negative emissions technologies

To offset residual emissions. Direct air capture, afforestation, agricultural practices, BEECs, etc.

Hydrogen production (as an alternative energy carrier)

Steam-methane reforming (NG feedstock) without CCS

Steam-methane reforming (NG feedstock) with CCS

In-situ gas wells

In-situ oil sands

Geothermal Electricity

Utility-scale power generation

Non-combustive uses for bitumen

Activated carbon, vanadium, carbon nanotubes, carbon fibre


Direct extraction from oilfield wastewater