Study: US must encourage development of Canadian oil sands, mitigation of CO2 emissions

Jun 11, 2012

To successfully reduce the United States' dependence on fuels from outside North America, the government must pursue policies that foster the diversion of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, according to a new study by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The study calculates that this move would reduce the U.S. trade deficit through increased trade with Canada. The additional emitted during the sands' extraction and refinement can be offset by promoting the replacement of coal with gas in electricity generation. This recommendation comes within the context of recent discoveries of natural gas in the U.S., developments in technology for the exploitation of Canadian sand that dramatically changed the liquid-fuels market in North America and the world as well as debates over the Keystone pipeline project.

The paper was co-authored by two Rice Scholars at the Baker Institute: Dagobert Brito, Rice's Peterkin Professor of , and Robert Curl, Rice's Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences and professor emeritus of chemistry.

"The market for petroleum is global," the authors wrote. "Canada will produce oil from the sands regardless of any U.S. policies. It is less expensive for Canada to use U.S. Gulf ports to market their oil. This oil will create jobs in the U.S. andwould be a secure source of oil for the were world oil markets to be disrupted." The authors also said that Canada is the United States' largest trading partner and that experts estimate more than 50 percent of Canadian income from the sale of oil would be spent in the U.S., which would have a substantial impact on the federal balance of payments.

To address climate change-related concerns over the additional carbon dioxide associated with Canadian oil sand production, the study's calculations demonstrate that the replacement of coal electricity generation with gas would do much to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and is the least expensive way to pursue a reduction."The present glut in the gas market is a golden opportunity to push this change by adding a limit in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour through adding carbon dioxide to the pollutant list for plants, and gradually tightening it," the authors said.

In summary, the authors wrote, "We believe concern about additional carbon dioxide emissions from Canadian oil sands production is misplaced. The strategic advantage of access to this resource far outweighs the extra carbon dioxide from its production, as this carbon dioxide can be more economically offset elsewhere in the economy. Effective government policy would encourage the development of the Canadian oil sands and the mitigation of the carbon dioxide emissions."

Key related facts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

  • The amount of natural gas that can be recovered in the U.S. is 2,100 trillion cubic feet, enough to supply the U.S. for about 90 years at current consumption rates.
  • Currently, U.S. oil production is 5.5 million barrels a day, of which 1.7 million barrels a day are from Gulf of Mexico offshore production.
  • Canadian reserves are estimated to be about 170 billion barrels of oil – second only to Saudi Arabia and enough to supply 5 billion barrels a day for more than 90 years.

Explore further: Priorities for research on pharmaceutical and personal care products in the environment

More information: The study, "Allocation of Carbon in the Production of Liquid Fuels and Electricity in the United States": www.bakerinstitute.org/publica… rbon-060812.pdf/view

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Nogero
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 11, 2012
I am surprised to see this very biased opinion posted in phys.org. I used to think you had scruples but now I wonder. Did you get paid by the Koch Bros to run that?
Eventide
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 11, 2012
Any financial incentive to go there is for short term gain of a select few who will have absolutely ZERO accountability for environmental destruction, species extinction and toxic pollution of a pristine ecology. Why massacre and obliterate the very few of natures gifts be have not thoroughly mutilated yet?
entropyrules
5 / 5 (4) Jun 11, 2012
"I am surprised to see this very biased opinion posted in phys.org. I used to think you had scruples but now I wonder"

Really, so we need a Politburo to pass (make) the news that we are allowed to read and erase unwanted reality? Perhaps you can relocate to Russia or China.
rwinners
4.4 / 5 (5) Jun 11, 2012
The Canadians are going to develop their oil sands and are going to sell that oil, either directly or indirectly. I think it would be better for them to ship it to us, or through us.
Caliban
1.7 / 5 (3) Jun 11, 2012
"I am surprised to see this very biased opinion posted in phys.org. I used to think you had scruples but now I wonder"

Really, so we need a Politburo to pass (make) the news that we are allowed to read and erase unwanted reality? Perhaps you can relocate to Russia or China.


Both correct, in a sense.

This research is very obviously agenda-driven, and arrives at the desired conclusion.
It is sad to see it published here at PHYSOrg, and could be mistaken as having been thereby endorsed --but, at the same time, it is important to be aware of publications such as this, too.

Falls under the "know thine enemy" rubric.

This is certain to be very big news in the expected outlets.
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 11, 2012

http://www.bakeri...sponsors

Just have a look at the Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy's list of Sponsors/donors. A little out of date, as there are no other direct links to similar information on their webpage(surprise!)

This will provide some insight into the level of objectivity to be expected from research originating there.

aironeous
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 12, 2012

http://www.bakeri...sponsors

Just have a look at the Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy's list of Sponsors/donors. A little out of date, as there are no other direct links to similar information on their webpage(surprise!)

This will provide some insight into the level of objectivity to be expected from research originating there.


I was on the fence and this article seemed to be convincing until I saw that sponsor list. Oh my, that analysis certainly needs to be independently verified.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (2) Jun 12, 2012
The present glut in the gas market is a golden opportunity to push this change by adding a limit in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour through adding carbon dioxide to the pollutant list for electricity generation plants, and gradually tightening it

Which country's congress are they implying will take this action?
Also worth pointing out to the authors that we all pretty much understand that CO2 is still a byproduct of gas combustion.
Origin
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 12, 2012
Apparently for most Americans is still simpler to ignore the cold fusion results achieved by their own universities and private companies (1, 2, 3, 4).
Howhot
2.8 / 5 (6) Jun 12, 2012
Considering the articles bias conclusions, I'm really skeptical of the estimated stock piles of Nat Gas and Sand Oil; "90 years at current consumption rates". Really? I mean Really. Given production methods and extraction inefficiencies, added with global demands I would "guestimsate" 15 years, tops.

Origin
3 / 5 (4) Jun 12, 2012
I do agree - the main purpose of these reports is just to decrease the price of oil at market, but they have weak connection to reality.
rubberman
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 12, 2012
Any financial incentive to go there is for short term gain of a select few who will have absolutely ZERO accountability for environmental destruction, species extinction and toxic pollution of a pristine ecology. Why massacre and obliterate the very few of natures gifts be have not thoroughly mutilated yet?


How about a biased Canadian viewpoint? Check all of the sources of oil (countries) and their various practices with regards to environmental accountability (the poster of the above quote clearly didn't check Canada's to say something so foolhardy), human rights, political systems and economic structure. After doing this, factor in that like it or not, (and anyone who knows my posts knows that I hate admitting this beyond comprehension) we will be relying on oil for quite a few more decades and then ask yourself that if it were a choice of morality, who's gas do I want in my car? (Given of course that the price per barrel is competitive). No so biased, just logical.
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 12, 2012
The present glut in the gas market is a golden opportunity to push this change by adding a limit in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour through adding carbon dioxide to the pollutant list for electricity generation plants, and gradually tightening it


Which country's congress are they implying will take this action?
Also worth pointing out to the authors that we all pretty much understand that CO2 is still a byproduct of gas combustion.


What they are saying here is that this is a "golden opportunity" to push for natural gas development, due lower CO2 emissions. this would create rampant NG development, and when, as a consequence, there is no overal reduction in emissions, and the environmental damage is no longer deniable, the usual actors will claim that it was excess regulation that caused the whole sickening spectacle, to begin with.

Meanwhile, no abatement in profiteering, pollution, envirocide, or overall emissions.
Caliban
3 / 5 (4) Jun 12, 2012
I do agree - the main purpose of these reports is just to decrease the price of oil at market, but they have weak connection to reality.


There will be no such effect. Just the opposite, in fact, as the time required to ramp up production to replace current supplies will only create the perception of imminent supply shortage, and thus higher prices --now.

A shortage five years from now is just as effective as the very thing here and now to enable commodities manipulation.

But, at least we can be happy for all the corporations and organizations which fund Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, as they'll all be getting MO MO MONEY!