Letter: Canadian official defends oil sands crude

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During the Waterfront Protection Ordinance campaign in South Portland, much was said about Canada’s oil sands. Opponents cited pipeline safety and corrosivity concerns. However, pipelines are a safe and efficient method of transporting large volumes of crude oil and petroleum products over long distances. Oil sands crude has been safely transported by pipeline for approximately 40 years. Allegations that diluted bitumen from Canada’s oil sands is more corrosive in pipelines are false. For example, a recent report by the National Academy of Science determined that bitumen-derived crude oil is no more corrosive in transmission pipelines than other crudes.

Since 2005, Canadian greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 4.8 percent while the economy has grown by 8.4 percent. Overall, the oil sands account for just 0.1 percent of global emissions. By comparison, U.S. coal emissions are more than 32 times greater than those of the oil sands. Ultimately, both countries recognize carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a key technology available to significantly mitigate GHG emissions; which is why it is a shared priority under the Canada-U.S. Clean Energy Dialogue.

Thanks to ongoing advances in the oil sands, per-barrel greenhouse gas emissions declined by 26 percent between 1990 and 2011. In fact, oil sands projects have comparable or lower greenhouse gas emissions as other crudes, both light and heavy, from California, Nigeria, Venezuela, to name a few.

The reality is that oil sands crude production is highly regulated, and is a responsible, safe, and secure resource which is helping to meet North America’s energy needs.

Patrick Binns
Canadian Consul General, New England