Focus on Leadership | Cenovus strives to be an industry leader in sustainability

September 28, 2021
Leadership Energy & Environment
calgary+newsroom+Focus on Leadership Cenovus strives to be an industry leader in sustainability

Rhona DelFrari is Cenovus Energy’s new chief sustainability officer. Photo by Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Rhona DelFrari’s new title at Cenovus Energy tells you a lot about the oil and gas company’s commitment to addressing climate change.

“When you have a chief sustainability officer as a member of the executive team, it sends a signal about this company’s strong commitment to environmental, social and governance — ESG — issues,” says DelFrari, who moved into the role in January.

Cenovus has long been focused on environmental and other corporate responsibility issues since its founding in 2009, and DelFrari has worked for several years in leadership roles in these areas. This year — after the multi-national, Calgary-based firm officially acquired Husky Energy — DelFrari was elevated to the executive team as chief sustainability officer.

“It’s more than just a title; it will make a huge difference.”

She adds that Cenovus chief executive officer Alex Pourbaix created the position to help ensure sustainability is a key part of every important conversation around the executive decision table.

That’s extraordinarily important given how critical sustainability is to the long-term viability of Cenovus, DelFrari explains.

“Sustainability leadership will help ensure we will be an energy company for decades to come,” she says. “Consequently, not only must our business plan be sustainable, but our practices, too, with respect to environmental, social and governance issues.”

This stance extends well beyond Cenovus’s leadership team.

Every employee — from operators in the field to energy analysts in its downtown head office — are committed.

“That’s really how you ensure as a company that sustainability isn’t just something you talk about,” DelFrari says.

Indeed, Cenovus walks the talk, cutting greenhouse gas emissions intensity by one-third at its oilsands operations between 2004 and 2019, and this year founding the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative with other energy companies.

More recently, Cenovus set out five key areas of focus for sustainability, which will be included as part of its five-year business plan. These are climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, water stewardship, biodiversity, Indigenous reconciliation and inclusion and diversity.

The company has been working in these areas for years. Among its notable recent initiatives is a commitment to investing $50 million over five years in housing for Indigenous communities where Cenovus operates.

Rather than a hindrance, sustainability is integral to Cenovus’s success, DelFrari says.

“At Cenovus, we see an opportunity to be an industry leader on sustainability and, as a result, become one of the most successful energy companies in the world.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development. 

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