Crude from oil sands not dirty: European Union

Crude from oil sands not dirty: European Union

Oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The European Union has changed its plans to label oil sands as “dirty” in a decision that would open market in the old continent to fuel generated in Canada.

The Fuel Quality Directive proposal, published by the European Commission on Tuesday, but disclosed in June, drops a mandatory requirement for oil sands oil to be labelled as unclean and highly polluting.

Refiners would now only be required to report an average carbon rating of their stock of petrol, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas.

The move comes conveniently at a time when tensions between the EU and top oil supplier Russia are running high.

The new plan requires refiners to report an average emissions value of the feedstock used in the products they produce, dropping a requirement to single out oil sands content.

“It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through due to resistance faced in some Member States,” EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement.

Members to vote

The commission agreed in 2011 that oil sands fuel should receive a carbon rating a fifth higher than for standard oil, but some member states balked at the move.

The move to change how refiners label the carbon intensity of their fuel is expected to drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists and politicians. This despite the fact the new proposal retains a formula for calculating the carbon intensity of varied fuels types over their life-cycles.

“I strongly recommend Member States to adopt this proposal and keep the safeguards that will allow cleaner fuels to be used in transport across Europe,” Hedegaard said.

The plan must now be debated by member states, and a resolution could take less than two months.