[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Canada files to define outer limits of expanded Atlantic continental shelf; preliminary filing on Arctic, targeting North Pole
December 10, 2013
|Overview of the outer limits of the expanded Canadian continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean. Click to enlarge.|
On 6 December, Canada filed a submission to define the outer limits of its expanded continental shelf area in the Atlantic Ocean with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. At the same time, Canada also filed preliminary information concerning the expanded outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, which could include the North Pole.
In a news conference on the submission, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that Canada will indeed try to extend its territorial claims to the North Pole. “What we want to do is claim the biggest geographic area possible for Canada.”
ABMI releases first report on biodiversity in Athabasca Oil Sands Area
December 06, 2013
The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) released the first comprehensive report on the status of Alberta’s species in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area (AOSA). Found in northeastern Alberta, the AOSA makes up 14% of Alberta’s land area, and is central to Alberta’s economy. Situated within the Boreal Forest Natural Region, the AOSA has a robust forest industry. It also contains the Athabasca oil sands deposit, which represents 77% of Canada’s proven oil reserves and supports a growing energy extraction sector.
“The Status of Biodiversity in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area” assessed the current condition of more than 350 species in the entire AOSA; the active in-situ oil sand production sub-region; and the mineable sub-region and found the Biodiversity Intactness Index to be, on average, 94%, 91%, and 86% for each of the regions, respectively.
Average carbon intensity of oil sands production has dropped ~36% in last 40 years; still 12-24% higher than conventional oil CI
November 21, 2013
|Trends in well-to-wheel pathway-specific CI. In situ production began in 1974, so no value is computable for 1970. Click to enlarge.|
The carbon intensity (CI) of Alberta oil sands production has significantly decreased over the last 40 years, according to a new study by a team from Stanford University published as an open access paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Relying entirely on public and peer-reviewed data sources for the period from 1970 to 2010 (inclusive), the team found that industry-average full-fuel cycle (well-to-wheels, WTW) CI declined about 36% from 165 gCO2e MJ-1 higher heating value (HHV) of reformulated gasoline (RFG) to 105 (-12, +9) gCO2e MJ-1 HHV RFG. 2010 averages by production pathways are 102 gCO2e MJ-1 for mining and 111 gCO2e MJ-1 for in situ production.
Study finds biodiesel use in HD trucks in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits
November 07, 2013
Results of a study by a team from Health Canada and Environment Canada suggest that the use of B5 and B20 biodiesel fuel blends (5% and 20% biodiesel, respectively) compared to ULSD in on-road heavy-duty diesels in Canada will result in very minimal changes in air quality and health benefits/costs across Canada, and that these were likely to diminish over time.
Health Canada is the Canadian Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health; Environment Canada is the Federal agency tasked with, among other things, protecting the environment. An open-access paper on the study has been accepted for publication in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Chrysler Group in 5-year, $18.2M partnership with McMaster University to develop advanced electric and hybrid powertrains; funding from Canadian Government
October 25, 2013
Chrysler Group LLC has entered a 5-year, $18.2-million partnership with McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components. For McMaster, the project partnership is one of three new partnerships with Chrysler, the federal government and other auto industry leaders worth a combined $24 million.
Chrysler Group will invest $9.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions, with an additional $8.93 million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the lead agency within Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), an initiative that supports industry research at Canadian universities and government laboratories.
Navigant forecasts 18.6% CAGR for plug-ins in North America to 2022; 2.4% new vehicle share in US
September 10, 2013
|Annual light duty PEV Sales, top 5 states, 2013-2022. Source: Navigant. Click to enlarge.|
In an update to its 2012 geographic breakdown of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales in North America, Navigant Research now forecasts that overall sales of will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.6% between 2013 and 2022. Navigant Research forecasts that PEVs will reach 416,153 annual sales in the United States and 230,479 in Canada by 2022.
The model for North American PEV sales by US state, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), Canadian province, Canadian city, and selected US utility service area has been updated to better align with actual sales data from the first full year of wide availability of PEVs.
IHS-CERA concludes “no material impact” on US GHG from Keystone XL; heavy crude from Venezuela most likely replacement
August 09, 2013
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline for transporting oilsands-derived crude to Gulf Coast refineries would have “no material impact” on US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to a new Insight report by IHS CERA. In a June speech at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama said that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would only be built if the project “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” (Earlier post.)
In the absence of the pipeline, alternate transportation routes would result in oilsands production growth being more or less unchanged, IHS CERA found. The study also found that any absence of oil sands on the US Gulf Coast would most likely be replaced by imports of heavy crude oil from Venezuela, which has the same carbon footprint as oilsands crude.
BC government won’t support Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline as presented over spill response concerns
June 01, 2013
In its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel (JRP), the government of British Columbia states that it cannot support the project as presented to the panel primarily because Northern Gateway (NG) has been unable to adequately detail its response to a spill.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline is a proposed 1,170-kilometer (727-mile) twin pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast. Northern Gateway’s West line, 36 inches in diameter, would transport an average of 525,000 barrels of oil sands crude per day to Kitimat. The East Line, 20 inches in diameter, will carry 193,000 barrels of condensate per day back to Edmonton. Condensate is used to thin petroleum products for pipeline transport (diluent).
Canada backs demonstration-scale algal biorefinery project in the oil sands; Algal Carbon Conversion
May 19, 2013
The Government of Canada is supporting a three-year project that will result in the construction of a $19-million, demonstration-scale facility in Alberta that will use algae to recycle industrial carbon dioxide emissions from an oil sands facility into commercial products such as biofuels. The Algal Carbon Conversion (ACC) Pilot Project is a partnership among the National Research Council of Canada (NRC); Canadian Natural Resources Limited, one of the largest independent crude oil and natural gas producers in Canada; and Pond Biofuels.
The demonstration-scale algal biorefinery will be established at Canadian Natural’s Primrose South oil sands site, near Bonnyville, Alberta. The demonstration facility will be integrated into the Canadian Natural’s operations with direct access to industrial flue gas emissions, wastewater and waste heat.
State Department issues Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL Pipeline: climate change impacts
March 02, 2013
|Comparison of proposed Keystone XL route to previously proposed project segment. Source: Draft SEIS. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of State (DOS) has released its Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in response to TransCanada’s May 2012 application for the Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada’s oils sands in Alberta to Nebraska. The document is a detailed draft technical review of potential environmental impacts associated with the segment of the pipeline in the US, including: impacts from construction, impacts from potential spills, impacts related to climate change, and economic impacts.
Aside from the potential construction and spill impacts of the pipeline, the scope of the climate change impacts have become the most contentious and politicized issue surrounding the pipeline. The DOS SEIS accordingly takes a detailed look at life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of petroleum products from Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) oil sands crudes compared with reference crudes and the potential impact the pipeline might have on climate change as well as on the future development of the oils sands resource in Canada.
SDTC awards C$1.5M to support Molten Salt Catalyzed Gasification for hydrogen production; targeting reduced GHG footprint for oil sands synthetic crude
February 16, 2013
|Flowchart of the MSG process. Source: Western Hydrogen. Click to enlarge.|
A consortium led by Canada-based Western Hydrogen Ltd. will receive a $C1.5-million investment from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support the development and commercialization of a new hydrogen manufacturing technology called Molten Salt Catalyzed Gasification (MSG), originally developed at the US Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Hydrogen is necessary in the upgrading of oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude, but it is a costly and carbon-intensive part of the process, given current hydrogen production technologies. MSG converts natural gas into hydrogen with a 23% reduction in GHG emissions compared to steam methane reforming.
New study concludes oil sands development has significantly increased PAH and DBT loadings in regional lakes; combined with effects of climate change, a “new ecological state” for the lakes
January 09, 2013
A new study by a team from Environment Canada and Queen’s University (Canada) has shown that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) within the sediments of lakes in the Athabasca oil sands region in Canada—particularly C1-C4–alkylated PAHs, increased significantly after development of the oil sands resource began some 50 years ago—followed by significant increases in dibenzothiophenes (DBTs).
Total PAH fluxes in the modern sediments of six study lakes, including one site ∼90 km northwest of the major development area, are now ∼2.5–23 times greater than ∼1960 levels. Total DBT enrichments over the same time period ranged between ∼2.6 and 57 times.