Wednesday, June 11, 2014

EU proposal scraps mandatory 'dirty' label for tar sands

EurActiv: A mandatory EU requirement to label oil from tar sands as more polluting than other forms of crude could be scrapped altogether following years of lobbying from top producer Canada, according to a draft European Commission proposal. The change removes one obstacle to Canada shipping crude from tar sands to Europe, but will be criticised by environmental campaigners.

The clay-like sands have to be dug up in open-pit mines with massive shovels, or blasted with steam and pumped to the surface, before oil can be extracted. As a result, the oil costs more to produce than regular crude, uses more water and energy, and emits more carbon.

Canada, oil majors and the refining industry have fiercely opposed EU plans to label tar sands as highly polluting. In the context of the Russia/Ukraine crisis and fears about European energy security, Canada argues Europe should be embracing its oil as a secure form of energy.

"We don't see the crisis in Ukraine as simply an opportunity to market Canadian products, but obviously we're deeply engaged in a discussion with our allies on how we can make sure that globally our energy supplies are secure and stable," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters after G7 talks in Brussels on Thursday (5 June).

...The European Commission draft document proposed that oil refiners would only have to report an EU-wide average of the emissions for the feedstock they use. "The proposed methodology requires suppliers to report a (European) Union average greenhouse gas emission intensity per fuel with an option to report supplier specific values," the draft said....

Syncrude's Mildred Lake plant in the Athabasca Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada. Shot by The Interior, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 3.0 license

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