BP Defends Oil Sands Project in Canada

by | Apr 16, 2010

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BP-GHGemissionsIn the wake of BP’s release of its 2009 sustainability review, the oil and gas company shut down a resolution proposed by 143 shareholders at its annual general meeting that demanded BP to review the risks of its Sunrise oil sands development in Alberta, reports The Guardian. BP will make a final decision about the $2.4 billion joint venture with Husky Energy by year’s end.

Supporters of the protest include several large investors such as Calpers and Calstrs, the California state employees’ and teachers’ pensions funds, and Co-operative Asset Management in the UK.

However, in a recent ranking of environmental, sustainability and social impacts from major oil and gas companies, BP was the leader, gaining kudos from reporting stakeholder concerns and addressing its progress in meeting the concerns.

This was despite negative press in 2009 for scaling back on its renewable energy research.

Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, told investors that it would only use in-situ drilling techniques in Canada rather than open-pit mining, which results in more water pollution. The company said in-situ drilling “does not create a large physical footprint or involve tailings ponds of liquid residues.”

BP’s interests in oil sands projects include a 50 percent share in the Sunrise oil sands field in Alberta, Canada, which has estimated resources in excess of three billion barrels, according to the 2009 Sustainability Review (PDF).

The sustainability report indicates that life-cycle emissions for oil sands-based products are five to fifteen percent higher than those from the average crude oils consumed in the U.S. BP expects to cut emissions through various approaches and new technologies, noting that its best-in-class steam oil ratio has been reduced from six to nearly two over the past decade.

BP’s direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2009 was 65.0 million tons (Mte) of CO2e, which is 3.6 Mte higher than 2008. The oil and gas company’s increase in exploration and production GHG intensity in 2009 is attributed to the start-up of its Tangguh liquefied natural gas project, which also resulted in the increase in flaring.

BP has reduced emissions since 2002 due to several efficiency projects that include reductions in flaring and venting in combination with energy-efficiency projects such as process optimization, waste heat recovery, installation of new steam generators as well as filters and heat exchangers that use less fuel.

BP relaunched its sustainability mapping tool that provides information about the company’s biodiversity, protected areas and management of water use, waste-water discharges and emissions to air, for its major operating sites.

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