Canada-EU battle over oil sands deepens

Canada’s natural resources minister Joe Oliver continues to hit back against critics of the country’s oil sands, especially against the European Union proposal to designate its oil as dirty, with a new report that argues the methodology used by the EU to create its fuel quality directive (FDQ) was deeply flawed.

“Unfortunately, the FQD implementation measures, as currently drafted, are unscientific and discriminatory; would discourage disclosure; harm the European refinery industry, and not achieve its environmental objective,” he said in a press release.

Canada’s federal government has campaigned aggressively against the EU proposal, which assumes that gasoline produced from oil sands causes 23% more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional crude.

But today’s study argues that there is no scientific basis to support the distinction between conventional and natural bitumen crude oils. The measures, added the minister, do not account either for the range of carbon intensities of conventional crude oil and products consumed in the EU.

In the release, the natural resources ministry also noted the default value for conventional crude could be much higher than the level currently proposed in the implementing measures.

“Canada provides independently verifiable emissions data which is updated continually and made available to the public, unlike many countries supplying the EU with crude oil,” said Oliver.

The country is desperate to ship its oil to new markets – the US currently absorbs 99% of Canada's exports of 2 million barrels a day. To make sure the plan is not disturbed, the Harper government has battle adversaries to the point it even threatened the EU to take the case to the World Trade Organization (WTO), if the European conglomerate were to pass the rule as drafted.

Today's report, by Ottawa-based consultant ICF Consulting Canada Inc., echoes many criticisms levelled against the fuel quality directive by the oil industry and the federal and Alberta governments.

Image courtesy of NRCAN.