The Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM) Program is one of the largest regional environmental monitoring programs in North America. 

A national initiative, it’s a unique organization with multiple partners representing provincial and federal governments, the Alberta Energy Regulator, Indigenous and Métis communities. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and COSIA are industry partners. 

The monitoring program is funded by the oil sands industry, including COSIA members, to monitor environmental effects and answer the following key questions:

  1. Is there environmental change?

  2. Is the change due to oil sands development?

  3. What is the contribution of oil sands development?

The OSM Program measures ambient air quality, regional surface water and groundwater quality and quantity. It also monitors the terrestrial biological ecosystem health, including wetlands. The Program assesses change in air, water, and land as they relate to oil sands development. To date, it has not seen major changes or exceedances in these areas.


The program is co-led by the governments of Canada and Alberta, which founded the program in 2012. Provincial and federal leaders work alongside other partners to govern and operate the OSM Program.


Industry Representation (COSIA)

COSIA and CAPP represent industry in the OSM program. COSIA's Monitoring Priority Area is the point of contact for industry technical support. Members' participation is coordinated through COSIA's Monitoring Steering Committee, which feeds industry input into technical issues and into the design, implementation and improvement of the program. COSIA shares the OSM Program monitoring data among COSIA members and supports development of scientific plans for new OSM Program initiatives. 

Resource Sharing 

The OSM Program assures Canadians, and the global community, that oil sands development is monitored at a regional level by an independent third-party. It freely shares a large database of knowledge—more than 700 technical reports to date—to researchers and the public around the world.

Six Core Monitoring Areas

  1.  Terrestrial biological monitoring
  2.  Ambient air and deposition monitoring
  3.  Wetland monitoring
  4.  Aquatics monitoring (including fish, benthic invertebrates and surface water quality and quantity)
  5.  Groundwater monitoring
  6.  Community based monitoring

Monitoring Focus 

  • Have things changed? 
  • How far does it go? 
  • Is it getting better or worse? 
  • Should I be concerned? 
  • Where is it coming from? 
  • Does it need to be fixed? What could be done differently? 
  • How to I adapt my monitoring given what I know?