OTTAWA - The head of one of Canada's largest oilsands producers says new technology has softened the impact his industry is having on the environment.

Imperial Oil chief executive Bruce March says oilsands producers have cut the carbon dioxide per barrel they produce by 39 per cent since 1990.

He says Imperial Oil's new Kearl project being built in Alberta will have the same greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the operation as the average conventional crude project in North America.

Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) is also a major partner in Syncrude, the world's largest oilsands producer and one of the oldest.

March made his remarks in a speech to the Economic Club in Ottawa as part of the industry's recent push to polish its tarred image.

He said the massive BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico will bring greater scrutiny on the industry in general, not just offshore producers.