At Nexen we’re committed to reclaiming the land we use. One way we’re reclaiming land at our Long Lake and Kinosis oil sands sites is by planting new trees to replace those we’ve disturbed. Since our reclamation efforts began, approximately 660,000 trees and shrubs had been planted at sites – we planted our 1 millionth tree in July 2014.
Terrestrial Remediation & Reclamation
Once oil and gas activities are completed, most jurisdictions require disturbed habitats to be returned to ‘equivalent land capability’ – meaning that industry is required to reclaim the land. Remediation involves removing any contamination on site and reclamation involves contouring the land and planting species to start successional regrowth of the area.
At our Long Lake oil sands facility, many of our core hole exploration sites were planted to enhance the reclamation process of establishing healthy forests. Reclamation efforts included the planting of 240,000 seedlings in 2013 to mitigate areas disturbed by seismic and corehole exploration.
We’ve been actively reclaiming oil and gas sites for many years now:
- In Canada, we have reclaimed and received regulatory closure on approximately 592 hectares of land since 2004. Our Canadian operations exist in a variety of landscapes and ecosystems, each of which has their own unique challenges that require innovative methods to successfully return to their original state.
- Legacy sites such as our historic Manatokan Thermal Pilot plant at Cold Lake, Alberta, required an innovative method to reclaim the land. Through the application of science, agronomy and a cooperative attitude of communication with both the landowner and regulators, Nexen received a reclamation certificate in early 2012.
Remediation and reclamation requires the engagement of a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure the land is returned to the desired end land use. These positive relationships between government agencies, landowners and the communities allow us to successfully close the life cycle of our assets.
In the marine environment, our non-producing offshore assets also have to be safely decommissioned. This process requires wells being cemented shut and remaining structures removed. However, offshore oil and gas structures often serve as surrogate ‘scaffolding’ for marine organisms such as coral to attach to, which creates diverse habitats.
Under specific conditions, the Gulf of Mexico is now allowing some offshore oil and gas structures to remain as part of a ‘Rigs-to-Reefs’ program. Not only does this program provide valuable habitat for a variety of marine species, it also supports local industries such as recreational diving and fishing. Nexen has piloted this program in decommissioning one of our platforms and is in the process of determining what future structures could be incorporated into the program.