Oil sands facts disputed

Contributed to The New York Times
Greg Stringham
Vice President of Oil Sands
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
May 08, 2011

Re: Ottawa's plan to bury the problem, May 1

Canada's oil sands producers agree there is value in serious dialogue with Canadians about the oil sands. Everyone is better served when those discussions are based on facts. Your editorial on the carbon dioxide emissions of Canada's oil sands industry contains two misleading errors.

Environment Canada data shows that in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, Canada's oil sands industry emitted 37.2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. That is less than half of what your editorial claims. For context, the oil sands industry has reduced its emissions intensity by 39 per cent per barrelfrom 1990 to 2008. Efforts are ongoing to further reduce emissions intensity.

Also, the editorial claims the oil sands underlie 170,000 square kilometres of land. In reality, they underlie 142,000 square kilometres of land. A difference of 28,000 square kilometres is significant when you consider 662 square kilometres have been disturbed by oil sands mining over 40 years of development. By comparison, the Toronto metro area impacts an area of land 10 times as large. The oil sands land disturbance will be completely reclaimed under Canadian law.

The oil sands industry is working hard to continually improve its environmental performance. We are happy to be judged on our ability to find solutions, and we are happy to engage in constructive dialogue about the oil sands. The real numbers are enough to merit discussion.

Greg Stringham, Vice President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Calgary