Hoeven, Manchin Host Canada's Ambassador to the United States to Highlight Good Environmental Stewardship in Oil Sands

Innovative Technology Is Reducing GHG Emissions in the Oil Sands

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today hosted Gary Doer, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, to highlight Canada’s good environmental stewardship of the oil sands and the need to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project. Hoeven and Manchin have introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to approve the Keystone XL, which has been delayed for more than six years by the Obama administration and is now under consideration for approval by Congress.

Canada is America’s largest supplier of oil, gas and electricity, providing 40 percent of all U.S. oil imports. That’s more than all 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) combined. Today, 70 pipelines cross the Canada-U.S. border, including 31 oil pipelines and 39 natural gas pipelines.

“Canada is committed to developing the oil sands with good environmental stewardship, and already has a strong record of achievement,” Hoeven said. “Companies like Exxon and Shell are working with their Canadian counterparts to develop new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they increase production to help both Canada and the U.S. to become more economically strong and energy secure in an increasingly volatile world.”

“Canada and the U.S. are strong partners on energy and the environment,” said Doer. “We work together on clean air policies such as vehicle fuel efficiency standards and acid rain reduction. Canada and the U.S. develop renewable and traditional energy to make our North American neighborhood less dependent on countries that represent potential risk for the future.”

“It is time that we address the critical issues of moving America toward energy independence, while continuing to foster job growth and economic prosperity,” Senator Manchin said. “Approving the Keystone XL pipeline will help us reach these goals as we partner with one of our strongest allies, Canada. I thank Ambassador Doer and Senator Hoeven for their steadfast support of this important project, and I will continue to fight with them until we can finally begin building this pipeline.”

The senators said Canada has a commitment to developing the oil sands with good environmental stewardship. Since 1990, oil sands greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per barrel have been reduced by 28 percent using a combination of innovative technologies and targeted incentives to encourage reduced carbon emissions.

Exxon Kearl Project

For example, Exxon Mobil’s new $10 billion Kearl project has invested in the latest technology to produce oil sands product with the same life-cycle GHG emissions as many other crude oils refined in the U.S. Using cogeneration and low energy extraction, Kearl produces more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), and will eventually produce about 500,000 bpd, nearly one out of every eight barrels produced from the oil sands. The project also uses other environmental innovations, including use of on-site water storage to eliminate river withdrawals in low flow periods and progressive land reclamation, which will return the land to boreal forests.

Shell Quest Project

Canada and the United States are also global leaders in the development of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. As early as 2000, Canada and the U.S. launched one of the earliest and largest CCS projects in the world. The Weyburn-Midale project takes the CO2 from Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Dakota Coal Gasification facility, a synthetic fuel plant in Beulah, North Dakota, and pumps it to Saskatchewan where it is used for enhanced oil recovery. To date, more than 25 million tons of CO2 has been sequestered.

Similarly, Shell this year will complete the world’s first oil sands carbon capture and storage project. Called Quest, the project will begin permanently storing CO2 by the end of the year and will subsequently store more than one million tons of carbon per year. Quest reduces emissions from the company’s upgrader by 35 percent – the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off the road each year. Further, Shell will transport the CO2 50 miles north via a pipeline and permanently store it more than a mile below ground under impermeable rock formations.

The Government of Canada and the Governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have invested more than $1.8 billion Canadian in funding for CCS with the potential to leverage up to $4.5 billion in total public-private investment for specific CCS initiatives.

The Hoeven-Manchin bill, S.1, authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, which includes 100,000 barrels a day from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. Upon passage, a presidential permit would no longer be needed to approve the project.