Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), the technology-sharing collaboration involving 13 oil sands companies, is not unlike a musical super group, Stanley Cup-winning hockey team or star-studded movie cast.
Simply assembling top talent together doesn’t immediately produce results. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on before any songs are released, wins are chalked up or compelling scenes are cut.
Team formation takes time as the group goes from being a collection of highly-skilled individuals to becoming a united entity where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
COSIA has been on this journey since its launch in 2012. Its members have been quietly working to lay down foundations for future success. Last month, COSIA shed light on its progress, which includes:
- Creating legal agreements allowing unprecedented sharing and integrating the work of predecessor organizations to ensure continuity of effort and investment;
- Designing a portfolio management system able to identify and develop hi-impact projects;
- Sharing some 560 environmental technologies worth over $900 million, moving forward some 185 impact-reduction projects worth nearly $500 million;
- Sharing best practices, using environmental technologies in novel ways and for new applications, sharing R&D effort to reduce risk, replication, effort, cost and time and setting up an online environmental technology assessment portal;
- Expanding collaboration within, between and outside member organizations, and involving an ever-wider diversity of stakeholders. As a result, COSIA now has a $20 million arrangement with GE on reducing greenhouse gases and water use, and is funding a biodiversity chair at the University of Alberta to advise the industry on better practices to conserve nature.
Some observers maintain COSIA hasn’t delivered enough. That’s not surprising, as expectations have been high since the organization’s launch.
The reality is that COSIA’s pace of progress won’t satisfy everyone and that’s something that oil sands developers must learn to live with.