Tar Sands Less Damaging Than Coal, Shell Says - And They Sure Are Profitable


photo by Fraser Elliot

Earlier this week I wrote about a new report by WWF-UK that said that economic and environmental cost of developing unconventional sources of oil such as the Tar Sands in Canada and Oil Shale in the Rocky Mountains of the U.S. would be "unthinkable". In the report it was claimed that the because of the tremendous effort required to produce a barrel of oil from these sources, the overall carbon emissions are dramatically higher than conventional oil sources: Tar sand extraction produce three times the emissions; Oil Shale producing eight times the emissions.

Well, oil company Shell didn't take that report too well and has fired back. From The Guardian:

Jeroen van der Veer, Shell's chief executive, said the world needed every kind of energy source it could find at a time of soaring demand. He said groups that had threatened to organise a ban on alternative fossil fuels should be careful because without unconventionals "the balancing fuel will be coal".

Van der Veer went on to claim that the "well-to-wheels" carbon footprint of Canadian tar sand extraction--in which Shell is heavily invested, seeing 74% profit growth in the second quarter of this year--was only 15% higher than conventional sources of oil.

"The Balancing Fuel Will Be Coal"
Sure, the balancing fuel could be coal if investment in renewable sources of energy don't take up the slack. Considering that Shell fairly recently pulled out from developing the world's largest offshore wind farm, the London Array, it seems obvious where Shell stands on renewable energy.

Considering their lack of commitment to renewable energy, and their overtly vested financial interest in unconventional oil sources, I find any statements from Shell on the matter of the high environmental impact of oil sands to be inherently suspect.

via :: The Guardian
Tar Sands, Oil Shale
Tar Sands: The Most Destructive Project on Earth
Economic, Environmental Costs of Developing Tar Sands & Oil Shale "Unthinkable": WWF-UK
Oil Shale Production to be Subsidized Under Bush Administration Proposal

Tags: Canada | Coal | Energy | Global Warming Causes | Oil | United States