Bloomberg News

Suncor, Imperial Ally on Oil-Sands Pollution Measures

March 01, 2012

Suncor Energy Inc. (SU), Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO) and 10 other companies said they will cooperate on reducing the impact of extracting bitumen from northern Alberta.

Suncor, Imperial and 10 other companies said they will share technologies to cut water pollution and land damage. Plans are being developed on how companies will share technology and establish targets, said Dan Wicklum, who leads the initiative, in an interview.

Producers have come under pressure from environmental groups, contributing to delays to TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline. Last month, the Canadian and Albertan governments said they will expand monitoring and increase air and water testing.

Suncor and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) are among the companies extracting bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands. Energy producers have invested C$123 billion ($121 billion) in Canada’s oil sands since 1997, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute. CERI estimates that these companies will invest a further C$137 billion by 2020 to tap into the 173 billion barrels of estimated reserves.

While today’s initiative is a “positive” step in reducing emissions intensity of oil-sands production, the plan doesn’t address the impacts of the rapid expansion of the area, said Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, a Canadian environmental consultancy.

“We still need to address pace and scale of development,” he said in an interview today. “This is the number one issue.”

Bitumen mining creates toxic waste ponds and causes the destruction of forests and animal habitats, in addition to increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, the Pembina Institute said in a report in 2011.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy van Loon in Calgary at jvanloon@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net


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