(EnergyAsia, June 11, Wednesday) — Two green lobbies have charged that US refiners will produce much more greenhouse gases processing Canada’s oilsands than if they used ‘traditional’ crude oil.

The Washington DC-based Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Toronto-headquartered Environmental Defence Canada (EDC) said the emissions production increase would be the equivalent of 16 new refineries in the US.

In a joint statement, they said: “Future oil refining in the US may soon get much ‘dirtier’ — including three times more greenhouse gas emissions in the extraction process — as refineries place their bets on a shift away from traditional crude oil to Canadian tar sands.”

The report, ‘Tar Sands:  Feeding US Refinery Expansions With Dirty Fuel,’ said that two thirds, or the equivalent of 1.1 million barrels per day (b/d), of the currently proposed increase in US refining capacity of 1.6 million bpd would come from refining heavier, dirtier crude oil from Canadian oilsands.

More than 800,000 b/d of existing US refining capacity is to be converted to processing regular crude from oilsands, so that conventional refining capacity is expected to undergo a net decrease of over 300,000 b/d. The total net increase in refining capacity to come from oilsands would be over 1.9 million b/d, said the report.

Since the average capacity of a US refinery is 116,395 b/d, the planned 1.9 million b/d of increased oilsands capacity would be equal to constructing more than 16 new refineries dedicated to using oilsands.

The increased oilsands refining capacity includes the following: Illinois and Texas (495,000 b/d), Indiana (205,000 b/d), Louisiana (180,000 b/d), Michigan (15,000 b/d), Montana (13,000 b/d), North Dakota (65,000 b/d), Ohio (316,120 b/d), Oklahoma (44,700 b/d), South Dakota (400,000 b/d) and Wisconsin (200,000 b/d). 

Eric Schaeffer, director of EIP, said: “It is hard to imagine what else it is that the US oil industry could do to go backwards further and faster than to rely on Canadian tar sands or similar resources in the US.  Not only would this mean significantly more pollution overall, but it would substantially boost the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.  The US government needs to get more involved in this situation to ensure that we do not end up with an environmental setback of truly staggering proportions.”

Matt Price, project manager for Alberta/BC Energy and Climate and a member of Environmental Defence Canada, said:

“The tar sands project is the most destructive project on Earth. Nowhere else are we talking about ripping up an area the size of Florida, creating massive toxic lakes you can see from space with the naked eye, and giving off three times the greenhouse gas emissions to produce oil when compared with conventional crude.