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Alberta producers review low-carbon agenda

CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Canadian oil and gas producers will work with the government in Alberta to find a balance between economic and environmental gains, a top executive said.

The provincial government of Premier Rachel Notley appointed a five-member panel to develop a climate change strategy for resource-rich Alberta. Parks and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the panel is driving toward an organic and domestic-driven agenda.

"Climate change is a threat we all face, affecting everything from our health, food production and fresh water, to biodiversity and our economy," she said in a statement. "All Albertans will have an opportunity to contribute to their province's new plan to address this pressing global issue here at home."

Most of Canadian oil sector activity is based in Alberta, a province that in the past has defended its environmental record against criticism of its carbon-intensive type of production.

Countering a European directive that ranked Canadian oil as more carbon-intensive than rival grades, the Canadian government published a report in 2013 saying oil sands in some cases produce the same or fewer emissions than conventional crude oil from countries like Nigeria or Venezuela.

The government at the time said greenhouse gas emissions per barrel of oil production at home decreased 26 percent from 1990 to 2011. Last year, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said that, since 1990, the sector has spent more than $1 billion on technologies needed to produce oil with a lower environmental footprint.

"The Alberta government wants to do more to address climate change, but it wants to grow the oil and gas industry, too," CAPP President and Chief Executive Officer Tim McMillan said in response to Alberta's latest initiative. "I believe we can find a balanced approach that achieves both."

Alberta announced plans in June to double a tax on carbon under the authority of Notley, who is seen as an advocate for a low-carbon economy. McMillan expressed reservations about the costs associated with that initiative. Instead, he said the industry should work collectively to develop the technology needed to ensure the economic vitality of the oil and gas sector in a low-carbon economy.

"Technology is critical to getting Alberta's oil and natural gas out of the ground responsibly in a lower-carbon future," he said.

Daniel J. Graeber
Published on:
August 17, 2015
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