Sulphur dioxide emissions down

Contributed to The Edmonton Journal
David Pryce
Vice-President, Operations
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
September 16, 2012

Re: "Oilsands set to exceed pollution limits; Shell documents say two gases already past regulatory limits," the Journal, Sept. 12.

Contrary to the online version of this story, emissions limits for nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide under Alberta's Lower Athabasca Regional Plan are measured against real data, not computer-modelled projections filed as part of a provincial regulatory process.

The onus is on our industry to manage environmental performance under the government's rules. The computer-modelled information helps government and industry determine how to focus management efforts.

There is no evidence to suggest air quality limits will be breached any time soon, as the story says. In fact, recent real data show reduced sulphur dioxide emissions. And our industry remains focused on reducing nitrogen oxide emissions.

Total sulphur dioxide emissions decreased by 15 per cent in 2010 versus 2009 (29 per cent on a per-barrel basis), continuing a multi-year downward trend due to improved process stability and better recovery technology at new facilities. Due to increased production, nitrogen oxide emissions rose by 19 per cent in the same period (six per cent per barrel). Improving fuel gas efficiency and combustion technology are key to managing nitrogen oxide emissions over time and within the management framework.

Increasing transparency and public understanding of industry's environmental performance is important to us, as it is to Canadians. The latest data will be published in November in Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers' annual Responsible Canadian Energy progress report.

We are proud of industry's overall track record. Nevertheless, we need to live by the adage that "good is not good enough" and to strive to improve performance.