Category Archives: Canadian oil production

Tar-Sands oil industry in trouble in Canada as Koch Brothers disinvest

Repost from The Energy Mix

Koch Brothers Abandon Alberta Tar Sands/Oil Sands

By Geoffrey Morgan, August 16, 2019, Full story: Financial Post
jasonwoodhead23/flickr

Wichita, Kansas-based conglomerate Koch Industries has sold off its substantial position in the Canadian tar sands/oil sands, selling thousands of hectares of land to Cavalier Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Calgary-based Paramount Resources Ltd., the Financial Post revealed Wednesday.

“Koch, one of the world’s largest private companies owned by American billionaires and Republican donors Charles and David Koch, has also abandoned the licences it did not sell in the transaction with Paramount and has been allowing its leases in the play to expire,” the Post reports.

The news lands just days after tar sands/oil sands analysts bemoaned the poor response the industry is receiving from investors, despite its continuing efforts to cut costs.

“The majority of Koch Oil Sands licences have been transferred to Paramount Resources Ltd.,” Alberta Energy Regulator spokesperson Shawn Roth said in an email. “All of the remaining licences for well sites have been abandoned, which means they have been permanently sealed and taken out of service.”

A Koch subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, still owns oil storage tanks in Hardisty, Alberta and runs U.S. refineries that process diluted bitumen from Alberta. “However, the company confirmed it had sold down its upstream oilsands holdings and surrendered expired leases in the play,” the Post states.

“Those leases, which were held by Koch Oil Sands Holdings, have varied over the years,” wrote spokesperson Rob Carlton. “These recent transactions are merely a reflection of the opportunities that are currently available in the marketplace and our desire to prioritize other initiatives.”

The Post lists a half-dozen international fossils that have abandoned the tar sands/oil sands since 2017, leaving Canadian firms like Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., and Athabasca Oil Corporation to solidify their holdings. While the Post blames the departures on a lack of export pipeline capacity and price pressure from fracking fields in the U.S. Permian Basin, the analysis earlier this week pointed to intense competition from efficient, affordable renewable energy and electric vehicles that is rapidly eroding future demand for oil as a transportation fuel. “Koch is not the only company allowing leases in the oilsands to expire as the pace of development in the play has slowed in recent years,” the Post reports. “In a move to cut costs, MEG Energy President and CEO Derek Evans said on his company’s recent earnings call that his company would allow leases on its longer-term holdings to expire, rather than pay escalating rents on the land.”

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    Emissions at four Alberta tar sands mines 64% higher than previously reported

    Oilsands CO2 emissions may be far higher than companies report, scientists say

    By Mitchell Beer, The Energy Mix, April 23, 2019 | Full Story: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation @CBCNews

    Carbon pollution from four major tar sands/oil sands mines in northern Alberta is 64% higher than their owners reported using the United Nations’ standard emissions measurement framework, according to a study released this morning in the journal Nature Communications.

    “The researchers, mainly from Environment Canada, calculated emissions rates for four major oilsands surface mining operations using air samples collected in 2013 on 17 airplane flights over the area,” CBC reports. The study found gaps from 13 to 123% between reported and actual emissions at the four facilities, a finding that “could have profound consequences for government climate change strategies”.

    As for the fossils that submitted the data, “they’re just doing exactly what they’ve been told to do,” said John Liggio, an aerosol chemist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “They’re not doing anything on purpose.”

    But that doesn’t make the research finding any less significant. Accurate numbers on carbon pollution “inform national and international climate policies,” the study states. “Such anthropogenic GHG emission data ultimately underpin carbon pricing and trading policies.”

    “The bottom line is we still have more work to do in terms of really determining how much is being emitted,” Liggio told CBC.

    The findings of this one study place Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions about 2.3 higher than they were previously believed to be, CBC notes. “If research eventually shows that other oilsands sites are subject to similar underreporting issues, Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions could be as much as 6% more than thought—throwing a wrench into the calculations that underpin government emissions strategies.”

    On CBC, Liggio explained the standard, “bottom-up” method by which fossils are required to report their production emissions is fraught with uncertainty, factoring in everything from the carbon intensity of the fuels they use to whether plant maintenance activities may have driven a temporary spike in emissions.

    With their flyovers, Liggio and his colleagues took “a ‘top-down’ approach involving hundreds of air samples taken during more than 80 hours of flights over four major surface mining operations in northern Alberta: Syncrude Canada’s Mildred Lake facility, Suncor’s Millennium and North Steepbank site, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Horizon mine, and what was then Shell’s Albian Jackpine operation, now majority owned by Canadian Natural,” CBC explains.

    “Left out of the study, notably, are emissions from all oilsands operations that use in-situ extraction, pumping steam into the ground to get the petroleum out. About 80% of oilsands reserves, and the majority of current production, require in-situ extraction,” which means “the overall amount of underreported greenhouse gas emissions could be significantly higher.”

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      Updates On The Threat Of Crude-By-Rail In California

      Repost of an email…
      [Editor: The email came with this March 2019 Mesa Refinery Watch Group Newsletter.  For much more, see mesarefinerywatch.com.  – R.S.]

      ——–
      From:
       Martin Akel, March 22, 2019
      Subject: Updates On The Threat Of Crude-By-Rail In California

      Dear [            ]:

      There’s no denying it — there are deliberate attempts to overturn regulations and policies that protect our environment, health and safety.  Therefore, regardless of the rejection of Phillips 66’s crude oil trains, we must remain educated about potential threats.  Click on the link below to read the latest MRWG newsletter, which includes …

      ► How Kern County followed in SLO County’s footsteps … saying “NO!” to crude oil trains.

      ► How the federal government used flawed data when canceling improved brakes for trains.

      ► How railroads have yet again missed the deadline for installing new safety technology.

      ► How Canada is expanding their production of dangerous tar sands and investing in crude oil trains.

      ► Why Phillips’ former claim of needing oil trains to gain “energy independence” was simply misleading.

      ► Plus — dozens of recent examples of serious railroad and oil industry safety problems.

      Respectfully,
      The Mesa Refinery Watch Group
      www.mesarefinerywatch.com

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