Archive for Oil Sands
e360.yale.edu 5th October 2011
‘The European Union says crude oil extracted from Alberta’s tar sands should be ranked as a dirtier fuel source than oil tapped from conventional oil wells, a move that could effectively ban the import of the controversial oil. The European Commission endorsed a measure that would essentially rate fossil fuels based on the CO2 emited during extraction, refining, and combustion. The EU has proposed that tar sands oil be ascribed a greenhouse gas value of 107 grams per megajoule of fuel, compared with 87.5 grams for ordinary crude oil. “With this measure, we are sending a clear signal to fossil fuel suppliers,” said Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate change commissioner. “As fossil fuels will be a reality in the foreseeable future, it’s important to give them the right value.” Such a ratings system may eventually be applied to natural gas extracted from shale oil formations. The exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands has generated increasing protest from environmental groups. In addition to destroying large swaths of forest, the extraction and processing of the sludgy bituminous material typically requires more energy and water than conventional production. Canadian officials and petroleum industry leaders vowed to fight the measure, calling it a “stigmatization” of a fuel source found only in Alberta and Saskatchewan.’
www.nytimes.com 6th June 2011
Canadian oil sands hold an incredibly large amount of oil. Sands in the province of Alberta alone hold an estimated 171.3 billion barrels of oil so it is not hard to see why its extraction is progressing at a rapid rate. However, a proposed pipeline between Canada and the US has stumbled across some difficulties as the State Department, the US government body that needs to give permission for the pipeline, reaches an end of its environmental review. The process has lasted since November 2008. A decision is expected by the end of this year. Environmental groups widely criticise the exploitation of oil sands due to the amount of energy and water used in the extraction process and the destruction of the Boreal forest atop the sands. With $7 billion behind the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction though, as well as US government concerns about oil import instability due to the Arab Spring, environmental concerns may be sidelined for a secure source of oil. Russell K. Girling, president of TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, has said that oil sand development will go ahead whatever the American government decide. Other alternatives include transporting by rail or by using other existing pipelines such the Trans Mountain pipeline to Canada’s Pacific Coast. The Chinese have also expressed interest. The Canadian government is not likely to fall out of love with so-called ‘dirty oil’ (see the film of the same name in our documentaries section) anytime soon. Canadians re-elected a conservative government who have been staunch supporters of oil sand development.