A debate is raging in Alberta over plans to get more “dirty oil” out of the floor, which some say is in conflict with Canada’s environmental commitments. BBC HARDtalk went to analyze.
When Hanna Fridhed welcomed us into her domestic in Castle McMurray ultimate month, there was no door to stroll via and no home windows to appearance out of, simply the charred remains of a house obliterated via hearth.
The culprit? The Beast – the call given to the large wildfire that swept thru northern Alberta in Canada in Might also, destroying elements of Fortress McMurray and forcing the evacuation of its kind of ninety,000 residents.
For many environmentalists, the wildfire turned into not certainly a herbal disaster however in part the end result weather exchange, a factor added uncomfortably close to home by means of Castle McMurray’s proximity to Alberta’s good sized oil sands deposits.
The oil sands, sometimes known as “grimy oil”, have long been a goal of weather alternate campaigners who insist that the electricity-intensive extraction of oil sands and the greenhouse gasoline emissions it generates, imply most of the ultimate deposits have to stay inside the floor.
But this is enormously unlikely specifically with an expected a hundred and sixty billion barrels mendacity underneath Alberta’s soil.
Alternatively, Alberta’s provincial authorities is introducing an economic system-wide carbon tax from subsequent year and a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
That, alongside High Minister Justin Trudeau’s signing of the Paris climate Agreement in April, is seen as actual development by means of a few Canadians.
Or is it? In the meanwhile, oil sands operations emit roughly 70 megatonnes of greenhouse fuel emissions every year but the cap could be set at a hundred megatonnes.
Alberta’s Minister of Environment Shannon Phillips defended the higher cap: “The CO2 is what subjects here and Alberta is the primary and only strength-producing jurisdiction to say, ‘look yes you may broaden, however you have to do so responsibly underneath an emissions cap this some distance and now in addition’.
“The fact of the problem is that inside the short to medium term, 20% of Canadian GDP relies on Alberta’s oil and gas industry. It really is now not small.
“With all due appreciate to environmental companies out of doors of this province, our Prime responsibility is to the people of Alberta and we’ve simply long gone thru a huge drop in oil prices, tens of heaps of human beings out of work.”
So do environmental groups inclusive of Greenpeace want to get real? Is it economically viable, not to mention achievable, for Canada to show its lower back on any such lucrative resource?
Greenpeace activist Mike Hudema said Alberta’s initiatives were “good preliminary steps”, but added: “Whilst you take a look at tar sands or oil sands development, there may be no manner you may continue to enlarge, to feature 30 megatonnes of greenhouse gasoline emissions to the ecosystem and nevertheless meet what we said we have been going to fulfill in Paris.”
most of the oil sands are discovered under forests populated by means of bears, moose and other native flora and fauna. And within a stone’s throw from this herbal splendour is the Christina Lake oil sands operation, south of Fort McMurray.
It’s miles run with the aid of Cenovus strength, whose executive vice-president of oil sands manufacturing, Drew Zieglgansberger, guided us on a complete day’s excursion, a type of smorgasbord of the various tactics used to bring the oil to the surface.
Drills burrow right down to the oil sands, which may be 500m underneath the surface, then steam is pumped in to liquefy the oil earlier than It’s miles pumped to the surface. No open pit mining, no big scars at the panorama and no lakes of poisonous waste. however, the manner may be very electricity extensive.
“I think the assignment is truly not oil manufacturing it’s the carbon emissions associated with oil,” Mr Zieglgansberger told us.
“One of the huge things we have been able to unlock here using era is certainly permitting this resource to be part of the electricity blend. Within the last 10 years on my own we have dropped the emissions’ depth of these barrels with the aid of over 33%.”
Christina Lake produces approximately a hundred and sixty,000 barrels of oil an afternoon and Cenovus has plans for similarly growth.
Mr Zieglgansberger stated climate alternate is “One of the maximum crucial challenges of our time,” but insists the oil is essential.
“lt is going to be wished in any power blend in any consensus, any record That’s been posted. If we look our [across] the subsequent a long time, oil continues to be going to be wished.”