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The Suncor Energy sign is seen outside Suncor's head office in Calgary, Alberta, October 2, 2009.

© Todd Korol / Reuters

Two of Canada's biggest oil sands companies are pledging support for British Columbia's clean-tech sector just as the province refuses to back a major pipeline to the West Coast.

Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. have committed as much as $100-million over 10 years to Vancouver-based Evok Innovations, a new venture capital fund designed to accelerate the development of technologies that reduce the energy industry's environmental footprint and risks of oil spills.

The move comes just days after B.C. said it could not support the $6.8-billion Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, saying U.S.-based Kinder Morgan Inc. had not provided sufficient details about its spill-response capabilities.

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Suncor and Cenovus are among the 13 oil sands companies that have booked capacity to ship crude on the bigger pipeline system, which would see its capacity almost triple to 890,000 barrels per day under the proposed expansion.

The energy industry has seen its growth prospects squelched as U.S. and global oil prices collapse to about $30 (U.S.) a barrel. This week, oil sands crude has traded at roughly half that level, ratcheting up pressure to find new markets for the landlocked supply.

Suncor and Cenovus have each committed as much as $50-million (Canadian) to the new fund in partnership with the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance.

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