Joule Bergerson, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering is seen in this undated handout photo. New research concludes that Canada has one of the most carbon intensive oil industries in the world. But the same University of Calgary study says Canada is a world leader in regulations that could reduce the industry’s global climate change impact. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

Study concludes Canadian oilpatch rules could cut global emissions

Canada’s industry has rules that if adopted worldwide could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions

Research suggests Canadian oil is among the world’s most carbon-heavy, but Canada’s industry also has rules that if adopted worldwide could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Joule Bergerson of the University of Calgary said emissions from oil production could be cut by almost a quarter if oil-producing countries adopted regulations similar to Canada’s that limit the amount of gas flared or vented into the air.

“It could make quite a bit of difference,” said Bergerson, a co-author of a paper funded by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and published in the journal Science.

Bergerson and her colleagues from Stanford University in California analyzed how much carbon was contained in oil from nearly 9,000 oilfields in 90 countries, representing about 98 per cent of global production. Using data from satellites, industry, government and previous research, they also estimated how much methane and other greenhouse gases were released along with the oil.

They added the two sources of climate-changing emissions together and calculated how much of them were released per barrel of oil. That calculation showed Canada’s oilpatch was the fourth most carbon-intensive on the planet behind Algeria, Venezuela and Cameroon.

RELATED: Natural Resources committee meets to talk about pipeline decision

Canada’s rating was nearly twice the global average.

“We’ve known that for quite some time, that it’s a more difficult resource to get out of the ground,” Bergerson said. “That results in additional greenhouse gas emissions.”

What was surprising was the difference that flaring and venting made to carbon emissions. The paper concludes that about half of the highest-carbon oil comes from fields with high rates of flaring and venting.

Gas releases are why Algeria and Cameroon are more carbon-intensive than Canada, said Bergerson.

Gas flaring increased steadily between 2010 and 2016, the paper says. That includes countries such as the United States, where flaring has nearly quadrupled.

Those increases could be stopped if everyone took a more Canadian approach, which Bergerson described as world-leading.

The paper points out that in Canadian offshore fields, production restrictions are imposed if flaring is excessive.

In Alberta, flaring fell nearly two-thirds between 1996 and 2014.

The paper concludes that if minimal flaring standards were imposed worldwide, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from producing the average barrel of oil would fall by 23 per cent.

Duncan Kenyon of the energy think tank Pembina Institute agreed flaring in Canada’s oilpatch is well-regulated.

“If we were to take Canadian regulations and applied them globally we’d be way better off,” Kenyon said.

RELATED: B.C. natural-gas pipeline challenger says he’s received threats

But he pointed out several recent studies that have measured emissions in Canadian oil facilities have found much higher readings than industry estimates.

“We severely under-report our methane emissions,” he said. “We’re having a serious compliance and enforcement issue.”

Kenyon said under-reporting is common around the world.

While most carbon from fossil fuels is released when they are burned, cutting releases from production also matters, Bergerson said.

“This is the evolution, to adopt much more stringent regulations.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Chilliwack steps up to the plate and brings music and dance Provicials to town to prevent lag

Sponsors are needed to help knock the 2019 Provincials out of the park

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Hope arm-wrestler turned track and field star wins five medals at 55+ Games

Seven medals total coming back to Hope from golf and track and field events

VIDEO: World Rivers Day paddle down the Fraser

International day started on local waterways

Whitecaps see playoff dreams fade after 2-1 loss to FC Dallas

Goal in 87th minute seals Vancouver’s fate

Porsche impounded for going 138 km/hr in 90 zone during charity rally

West Vancouver Police said wet roads and heavy rain made it extra dangerous

B.C. students send books to displaced students of Hornby Island school fire

Maple Ridge elementary school teacher says students learned about acts of kindness

Phase 2 of $1.35B Royal Columbian upgrades won’t be a public-private partnership

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says it will be a design-build

Trump drains oxygen from Trudeau foreign policy with PM, Freeland bound for UN

A lot has changed since the Liberals came to power in Canada in 2015

B.C. man fined $15,000, barred from trading securities for fraud

Larry Keith Davis used money from an investor to pay personal bills

Emergency crews investigate small sulphuric acid spill in Kootenays

IRM states a small volume of less than one cup and three dime-sized drips were leaked from carrier

Most Read