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

Chemainus Gardens residents thoughtful to pets

La Fleur organizes donation bin for four-legged friends of food bank recipients

Fayant receives a new lease on life from weight loss

Shedding that inner person on the verge of dying brings dramatic change

North Cowichan and the City of Duncan receive awards for financial work

Awards recognize excellence in financial reporting

Will Arnold spearheads drive to clean up Duncan neighbourhood

Will Arnold offers a grim assessment of the community he has fallen… Continue reading

Editorial: We don’t think enough about our impacts on the world

Six eagles were killed, and six others were sickened after being poisoned.

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Instagram celebrity pays for B.C. woman’s boob job

‘Kirill was here’ held a contest for women to win a boob job and a trip to Miami

Man pulls over to help injured owl, gets hit by SUV

Chase RCMP say owl flew away while they were on scene

New food guide addresses ‘elephant’ in the room – alcohol

Experts welcomed the tougher stance on an issue they say demands a co-ordinated strategy

Cannabis sales up 25% in November as overall retail sales fall 0.9%

Cannabis store sales totalled $54 million in the first full month of legal recreational pot sales

LNG Canada support far outweighs protests, CEO says

Andy Calitz vows completion on schedule at B.C. Natural Resource Forum

B.C. Green Party leader calls for Assistant Deputy Speaker to step aside

Weaver alleges whistleblower was fired after looking into the Liberal MLA’s expenses

B.C. man says he was evicted due to ‘personal vendetta’ against his toddler

Matt Astifan says he has tried to do what he can but a young child will always make some noise

Case of B.C. man caught with 27,500 fentanyl pills thrown out due to Charter breach

‘Ambiguous’ signal by drug sniffer dog Doodz leads to B.C. Supreme Court decision

Most Read