Daily Management Review

Export of Tar Sands to Europe to Rise Alarmingly: Reports


Export of Tar Sands to Europe to Rise Alarmingly: Reports
Environmentalists have claimed of an alarming rise in highly polluting tar sands imports due to a surge in US exports of crude oil to Europe this year.
Since April 2014, US has been re-exporting Canadian crude to EU countries such as Italy, Spain and the Netherlands as strict laws prevent the US from exporting its own crude to Europe directly.
Shipments to Europe form the US increased by 73%, and reached 3.56 m barrels of crude compared to 2.06m in the year before until November, suggest figures released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) last week.
The exports almost certainly contained a high degree of tar sands oil analysts said even while the EIA provided no breakdown of the various types of crude.
“Almost any crude that is being re-exported from the US would most likely be sourced from tar sands. It is a very solid assumption because that is the very large production area and it is precisely the type of crude that has trouble finding [other] markets,” said Shelley Kath, an independent analyst for the National Resource Defence Council in the US.
After Saudi Arabia, Canada’s tar sands are the world’s second largest carbon reserve after Saudi Arabia.
Since the US does not distinguish between different sources or types of crude oil, analysts say that it is difficult to make judgments based on the US data.
“I think there have been some re-exports of Canadian crude but not large amounts,” said Sean Cronin from Argus global markets.
Tar sands imports to Europe could rise from 4,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 700,000 bpd without EU action, the NRDC had estimated last year.
Following in tense lobbying pressure, the European commission has abandoned efforts to legislate against tar sands according to their greenhouse gas intensity in October 2014. This spike in crude imports now coincides this decision.
 “This is the opening of the gates after the EU’s failure to tackle tar sands in real barrels of oil. We just hope that they will not be flood gates,” said Colin Roche, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth Europe.
A “growing interest” from Europe in crude manufactured from the country’s tar sands was noted by a Canadian Association of  Petroleum Producers (CAPP) report in June.
While admitted that the spike was due to objections from the Canadian government and industry, the paper said that the EU’s fuel quality directive would have “discriminated against Canadian oil sands crude”.
“As a result, exports of Canadian crude oil to Europe have begun to occur and expanded transportation infrastructure in Canada with proposed pipelines to the coast will lead to increased exports in the future,” the report said.
According to a report by the petroleum refining consultancy Mathpro, more than two-thirds of Europe’s oil refineries have already been upgraded to process tar sands.
In an indication that Europe’s industry is anticipating an imminent switch in fuel imports, the study found that 71 of Europe’s 95 refineries can now refine heavy or reprocessed crude.