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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Exposing the “dirty oil” myth: Emissions from oil sands comparable to U.S. crude production

Two independent studies released today have found direct emissions from producing, transporting and refining oil sands crude are in the same range as those of the other crudes refined in the United States.

The Life-Cycle Analysis of North American and Imported Crude Oils is based on two independent studies that comprise the first robust comparison of domestic, imported and oil sands crude processes in U.S. refineries. The research, conducted over the past year by U.S.-based consulting companies Jacobs Consultancy and TIAX LLC, was funded by the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI).

The studies found that direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the oil sands are generally about 10 per cent higher than direct emissions from other crudes in the U.S. If cogeneration is taken into consideration, oil sands crudes would be similar to conventional crudes in terms of GHG emissions.

According to AERI, previous studies used a simplified model representation for calculating direct emissions from different crude oil sources. This new research shows a wide range of emissions resulting from the production, transportation and refining of oil. The range of emissions is based on several factors including location, reservoir depth, oil characteristics and production technology.

“The likelihood of comparable GHGs has been supported intuitively in some studies over the last couple years, but we felt it was critical to ascertain, in an open and transparent manner, if the data supported it,” said Dr. Eddy Isaacs, Executive Director of AERI. “It can be difficult to test past assumptions, but the facts in this case provide an additional level of confidence.”

“One of the key considerations is that emissions from the oil sands will continue to decline as new technologies continue to be field tested and commercialized,” said Dr. Isaacs. “We are pleased to further this kind of research as technology and innovation hold the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

All AERI non-proprietary research is made available to researchers and policy-markets around the world for the benefit of global solutions. Established in 2000, AERI’s mission is to enhance the development of clean energy resources through research, technology and innovation. AERI is working with the Government of Alberta to support or provide advice on initiatives that work to advance sustainable energy development and address greenhouse gas emissions.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on July 23, 2009 | Permalink


It's dirty in the sense that that you have to strip-mine the landscape for it instead of just digging a hole. And I find it very interesting that while eastern environmentalists focus like a laser on oil sand emissions, they somehow pay very little attention to Ontario's heavy industry. Although the situation has improved somewhat in recent years, those factory stacks belch all sorts of caustic nastiness. One area near Sudbury is so barren from pollution that Apollo astronauts practiced moonwalking there in the 1960s.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-24 7:57:55 AM

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