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The Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM)

One of the largest regional environmental monitoring programs in North America, the Oil Sands Monitoring (OSM) program was established by the Alberta and Canadian governments to monitor and report on the cumulative effects of oil sands development in the region on air, land and water. Since it was created in 2012, the program has not identified any major changes or exceedances in these areas.

The OSM program is a unique, national collaborative effort with multiple partners, including the Alberta Energy Regulator, Indigenous and Métis communities, and industry. It assures the public that oil sands developments are being monitored by a credible source. It is fully funded by the oil sands industry annually through the Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Program Regulation.


COSIA participates in the OSM program’s governance structure as an industry representative, sharing OSM monitoring data and supporting the development of scientific plans for new and ongoing initiatives. Participation is managed by COSIA’s Monitoring Priority Area Steering Committee, which aims to co-develop and communicate aligned industry positions on technical topics related to OSM program design and implementation.

The OSM Program assures Canadians, and people around the world, 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 Focus Areas

  1.  Ambient Air Quality and Deposition - to measure types and levels of emissions in the air and on the landscape.
  2.  Aquatics - to assess oil sands contribution to changes in surface water quality and quantity, fish health, and benthic invertebrates.
  3.  Community-Based Monitoring - to assess priority environmental concerns of Indigenous and local oil sands region communities.
  4.  Groundwater Quality - to assess regional chemical and physical properties and oil sands industry’s contribution to change.
  5.  Terrestrial Biology - to assess wildlife and plant changes due to oil sands development.
  6. Wetlands - to monitor the health of the dominant landscape ecosystem of the oil sands region in response to oil sands development.

Find out more about the OSM Program:

Listen to COSIA’s Director of Monitoring explain what the program is all about: 
Innovative Minds, Episode 1 - Not Just Bird Watching (Spotify | Apple | Google)