Calgary, Alberta – The direct emissions from producing, transporting and refining oil sands crude are in the same range as those of other crudes refined in the United States, according to research funded by the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI).
The institute said that the two independent studies it funded, provided by U.S.-based consulting companies Jacobs Consultancy and TIAX LLC, comprise the first robust comparison of domestic, imported and oil sands crude processes in U.S. refineries.
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., but if cogeneration is taken into consideration, oil sands crudes would be similar to conventional crudes in terms of GHG emissions. Previous studies used a simplified model representation for calculating direct emissions from different crude oil sources; AERI said that the new research shows a wide range of emissions resulting from the production, transportation and refining of oil 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. We are pleased to further this kind of research as technology and innovation hold the key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”