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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Musings: Did The Oil Sands Win Over Europeans With Report?

Last week the battle over the "dirty" oil from the oil sands reached a crescendo with the release of a study claiming that on a global scale, oil sands carbon emissions are not as bad as those that would be released by burning all the world's coal resources. Moreover, the study's conclusion shows oil sands emissions are actually less than those from other heavy crude oils being burned.

This report came merely days before a decision requiring greater environmental offsets for use of the fuel was to be rendered by the European Union (EU) Fuel Quality Directive Committee composed of experts from each of the 27 member countries of the EU. This committee was considering a proposal to revise the EU Fuel Quality Directive that has a mandatory target for fuel producers and suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) by 6% from 2010 levels by 2020.

The study's conclusion shows oil sands emissions are actually less than those from other heavy crude oils being burned.

While the proposal would not have banned the importation and use of oil sands bitumen, it would have assigned it a carbon footprint that is 23% greater than that of conventional crude oil. This would force users of oil sands bitumen to make significant improvements in their operations to offset the additional carbon emissions or buy green credits from others under the mandatory greenhouse gas reduction target.

For all practical purposes, the ruling would have been the equivalent of a ban. For Canada, this would be a problem as other governments around the world might use the EU determination as grounds to ban or restrict the use of this bitumen. That would shrink the markets available for this rapidly expanding output, with potentially significant implications for Canada's and Alberta's economy and employment.

The Committee failed to approve the policy as the vote was 89 for, 128 against with 128 abstentions. The Committee was using a qualified majority voting system that awards more votes to larger country members. Belgium, Germany, France, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Portugal and the U.K. all abstained. Had the proposal received 255 votes the ruling would have gone immediately into law. The proposal will now be considered in June by the Council of Europe, which is composed of the ministers from the 27 member countries in the EU.....Read the entire "Musings From the Oil Patch" article.

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1 comment:

investment in farmland said...

Just read the piece. Very interesting how much worse coal mis than the tar sands. Didn't realize the delta between coal and anything else was that dramatic. One question though: Aren't we forgetting that whatever the EU or Obama feel, Canada will still be able to sell its tar sands oil to a voraciously hungry China? Not sure if it would be at a lower price to conventional oil or not, but isn't it understood that China is ready to buy whatever Canada will sell them?