9 votes

Measured air samples put Canadian oil sand emissions at higher levels than industry-calculated values made using the internationally recommended methods for estimating the emissions

4 comments

  1. [4]
    nacho
    Link
    Here's a pop science take. Their title: CO2-sniffing plane finds oil sands emissions higher than industry reported: Environment Canada researchers air samples tell a different story than industry...

    Here's a pop science take. Their title:

    • CO2-sniffing plane finds oil sands emissions higher than industry reported: Environment Canada researchers air samples tell a different story than industry calculations

    Essentially, oil sand production is even dirtier than previously thought it seems.

    Could that change regulations or licensing schemes for this type of production?

    1 vote
    1. [3]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      Canadian oil production is already the most regulated in the world outside of the EU which has no appreciable production. I would argue it's one of the most regulated industries in Canada outside...

      Canadian oil production is already the most regulated in the world outside of the EU which has no appreciable production. I would argue it's one of the most regulated industries in Canada outside of those that involve radiation.

      With that said oilsands production in Alberta is severely depressed right now (for a list of reasons not associated with this topic) and will likely never recover. I'm genuinely not sure this is a issue with the way Alberta is being choked out, alongside the rapidly advancing renewable push. Fine the offending companies and move on.

      I've been in the industry for a while now (AMA), have been all over the planet for it, and the level of scrutiny Canadian oil gets relative to the rest of the world is incredible (although a good thing from my perspective).

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        nacho
        Link Parent
        If we're talking about oil sand production, I'd agree the EU-regulated area doesn't produce appreciable amounts of oil. If we're talking all oil production though, Norway (not EU, but EEA and so...

        If we're talking about oil sand production, I'd agree the EU-regulated area doesn't produce appreciable amounts of oil.

        If we're talking all oil production though, Norway (not EU, but EEA and so EU-regulated) and the UK alone produce something like 2.5 million barrels a day. I think Canada is something like 3.5 million barrels a day?


        I remember reading this paper from last year on the actual emissions of global oil production. Their research covers something like 98 percent of the world's production per 2015.

        Here's a pdf

        Conclusion: Algeria (1), Venezuela, Cameroon, Canada and Iran are the five dirtiest oil-producing countries in the world, respectively. (figure 1)

        In a world where we can't extract all oil, because there's a global surplus, and if we extract it all global climate goes to hell, we should stop producing the most polluting oil to extract.

        In 2015, that would mean cutting out the dirtiest oil production. Canadian oil fields are some of the very first that shouldn't be extracted due to emissions (figure 2).

        Have things really changed that much since 2015? If so, awesome!

        2 votes
        1. Loire
          Link Parent
          Two things: A) Not all Albertan/Canadian production is oilsands. The Canadian oilsands hold so much oil in reserves that it dominates the numbers but there are still significant conventional and...

          Two things:

          A) Not all Albertan/Canadian production is oilsands. The Canadian oilsands hold so much oil in reserves that it dominates the numbers but there are still significant conventional and shale plays in Alberta. That's neither here nor there to the argument however.

          B) You are correct oilsand production are dirtier to produce by nature.

          When compared to their equivalents (other oilsands deposits) Alberta is highly regulated. All extraction sites are under strict guidelines concerning emissions, spills, abandonment and land recovery that no other nation imposes. There are teams of biologists dedicated to oilsands sites ensuring both that the surrounding boreal is disturbed as little as possible and that the site is returned to nature as close as possible to its prior state (same flora, same fauna, same density) not even the United States does this. Equinor's (Norway) work is completely off shore and not comparable but has its own issues concerning spills.

          The only reason why industry was tasked with producing an emissions estimate in the first place was because of these regulations.

          As for production since 2015. Yes things have changed. Alberta can't get it's oil out to market, hence the recent pipeline battles. The province has no access to markets outside of the United States and thus exports 98% of it's oil to one country. That means Albertan oil is forced to sell at a steep discount (14$ deficit to WTI as of today, was 40$ about six months ago) which makes most oilsands production unprofitable. The only extraction is currently from projects already in place, trying to keep the lights on. Alberta has completely missed the oil recovery as a result. The shale boom has also choked out the oilsands as our biggest importer now has more oil and natural gas than they know what to do with.

          There is no significant investment in the oilsands anymore, in fact most big companies like Shell have pulled out. It's simply not worth it. And when the oilfield doesn't have new investment/exploration it dies. Barring something unprecedented like a huge leap in global demand or some sort of shale failure in the States Albertan oilsands are dying. The economics are simply not there anymore.

          3 votes