EU dropping “dirty” label for Alberta bitumen
Read this October 7 Reuters story on the EU’s decision to abandon its labelling of Canadian bitumen as a more polluting oil source – after years of intense lobbying from the Canadian government.
BRUSSELS/CALGARY, Oct 7 (Reuters) – A European Union plan to label Canadian tar sands oil as highly polluting as part of its fight against climate change has been abandoned after years of opposition from Canada, clearing the way for exports of tar sands crude to the European market.
A proposal published by the European Commission on Tuesday removes what could have been an EU obstacle to shipments of the crude and comes at a time when tensions between the EU and its top oil supplier, Russia, are running high.
EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that given the situation with Moscow, the desire for a trade deal with Canada had been a factor in the commission’s move to remove the “dirty oil” tag.
Canada and the EU have been working on a trade deal for several years. EU officials have said a final pact is expected to be signed next year and become effective in 2016.
The commission also had been lobbied heavily by Canada and Canadian allies such as the United Kingdom. Canada sees Europe as a potential market for rising production from the tar sands of northern Alberta, the world’s third-largest crude reserve.
“It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through due to resistance faced in some member states,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement
Instead of singling out Canadian oil sands crude as highly polluting, the commission’s new proposed fuel quality directive (FQD) requires refiners to report an average emissions value of the feedstock used in the products they produce. The proposal confirms a draft seen by Reuters in June.
“We support the FQD’s intent to reduce transportation emissions, but believe it should be based on science and the facts,” Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement on Tuesday.
Extracting tar-like bitumen from the oil sands requires digging in open-pit mines or blasting with steam and pumping it to the surface, meaning it uses more water and energy and emits more carbon dioxide than conventional crude production.
Canada currently exports minimal amounts of tar sands crude to Europe. TransCanada Corp, however, is proposing a C$12 billion ($10.7 billion) Energy East pipeline that by 2018 would take 1.1 million barrels per day of Western Canadian crude to Atlantic ports, from which it could be shipped to European refineries.