Study says Oil-sands firms could eliminate greenhouse gases for a mere pittance

Thu, 2006-10-26 12:06Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

Study says Oil-sands firms could eliminate greenhouse gases for a mere pittance

Oil-sands companies could tackle climate change head-on by eliminating greenhouse-gas pollution, says a Pembina Institute report.

Released just days after the Conservative government announced a disappointing plan to restrict smog levels by 2010 and cut greenhouse gases in half by 2050, the Pembina study said companies already spend US$1.75 a barrel to remove lead from gasoline.

For just US $2.50 a barrel, according to the study, they could eliminate 100 per cent of greenhouse-gas pollution from tar sands, which are projected to contribute up to 47 per cent of the growth in Canada’s total emissions between 2003 and 2010 – making them the single-largest contributor to growth in greenhouse-gas pollution.

Failure to take action could render the oil-sands industry the main culprit in undermining Canada’s international climate-change obligations.

“The world is watching how Canada’s oil sands are developed,” said Marlo Raynolds, executive director of Pembina and co-author with Matthew McCulloch of Carbon Neutral by 2020: A Leadership Opportunity in Canada’s Oil Sands.

The report recommends a variety of solutions including energy efficiency, fuel switching, carbon capture and storage, and carbon offsets, with a detailed cost analysis of achieving carbon-neutral oil-sands production.

“It is both reasonable and achievable for an oil sands company to become carbon neutral by 2020,” Raynolds said. “Last week’s Clean Air Act announcement showed the federal government to be a laggard in tackling climate change.

“But this study indicates that oil sands companies have the opportunity to be leaders on this issue without waiting for governments to act.”

Comments

They say carbon-neutral oil-sands production will be done by: energy efficiency, fuel switching, carbon capture and storage, and carbon offsets. However, there is nothing about the fact that they are using 1/3rd of Alberta’s annual natural gas production to make steam to get the tar out of the sand. That cannot be a good use of fossil fuels in this age of climate change, where we have to squeeze the most out of the fossil fuels we do burn. Even if emissions from the processes are zero, they are still changing a clean fuel into a dirty one. Like the first comments here said, the end use has to be considered. The natural gas issue is sort of like “the other-end use” [ha ha ha].

Offsetting does not make something carbon neutral!

The best metaphor that I have been able to come up with for carbon offsetting is this- you go shopping and buy a suit for £1000. But luckily the suit was in a sale and reduced from £2000. So you reason that you actually haven’t spent any money at all, as you have saved £1000, and spent £1000, and they cancel out! So your shopping trip was financially neutral.

But surely, there is a problem here. You are £1000 down, and you haven’t really saved anything! You have only saved against a counterfactual idea of what you could have spent. Likewise carbon offsetting is claiming to be in credit whenever you reduce from a counterfactual idea of how much could have been emitted- a business as usual scenario amount of emitting. But we cannot afford a business as usual amount of emitting. That is a biosphere destroying amount of emitting! Saying that carbon offsetting makes something carbon neutral is a lie and a scam.

if you neeed more information please visit this site http://www.socyberty.com/Issues/Athabasca-Oil-Sands-The-Worst-Project-on-Earth.156491

if you neeed more information please visit this site http://www.socyberty.com/Issues/Athabasca-Oil-Sands-The-Worst-Project-on-Earth.156491

Great reporting, again, guys!  This is a must-read for all policymakers.

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It’s only the production that could be made carbon neutral. There is still the problem of consumption of the produced oil which will add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as usual.

[x]

Companies like Shell Oil really need to give their eyes a rub and see that a world with serious constraints on greenhouse gas emissions is not a possible future, but an eventual reality.

Right now, oil companies are investing billions in long term plays in very carbon intensive fuels, like Canada's oil sands, while at the same time there are more and more signs that strict regulations on such operations are on the near horizon.

You don't need to look much further than...

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