Canadian Petroleum Producers Sustainability Report: GHG Intensity Unlikely to Drop
The greenhouse gas intensity metric for members of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers remained virtually flat year-on-year and is unlikely to improve in coming years as the industry continues to move to more energy-intensive production methods such as hydraulic fracturing and sourcing fuel from oil sands, according to the industry’s latest sustainability report.
From 2010 to 2011, the industry’s greenhouse gas intensity remained at 0.32 metric tons of greenhouse gasses emitted per cubic meter of oil equivalent produced. But while the report says that the industry’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas intensity, the report also notes that this is an unlikely scenario in the near term.
Direct greenhouse gas emissions declined 0.5 percent from 88.1 million metric tons in 2010 to 87.6 million metric tons in 2011, and indirect emissions increased slightly from 14.3 million metric tons to 14.8 million metric tons. Taken together, total greenhouse emissions remained flat at 102.4 million metric tons.
The industry reduced its SO2 and NOx intensities by 11 percent and 6.5 percent respectively year-on-year, according to the report.
In 2010, the industry produced 0.9 metric tons of NOx per thousand cubic meters of oil equivalent production compared to 0.84 in 2011. This was the fifth consecutive year that NOx intensity has declined. The industry also recorded a 6 percent reduction in absolute NOx emissions. This metric has fallen every year since 2007.
The industry’s SO2 intensity decreased from 0.63 to 0.56 metric tons of SO2 per thousand cubic meters of oil equivalent production from 2010 to 2011. Nationally, SO2 emissions intensity has declined by 41 percent since 2007, the report says. Of CAPP’s three areas of production – oil sands, Western Canada and offshore drilling – oil sands production has the highest SO2 emissions per barrel of production, due to the high sulfur content of the oil found there. The introduction of sulfur recovery technologies helped the oil sands sector of the industry reduce its SO2 intensity by 19 percent year-on-year. Since 2007, the industry’s absolute SO2 emissions have fallen 35 percent.
CAPP credits the introduction of new technologies as the primary factor behind the reductions in NOx and SO2 emissions.
Fresh water withdrawals were down 12 per cent at oil sands mining operations, to 2.7 barrels per barrel of production; 10 per cent at in situ operations to 0.36 barrels; and 17 per cent at Western Canada operations to 0.72 barrels. The declines are due to industry’s successful efforts to improve recycling rates and use non-potable water sources where possible, the report says.
It became mandatory for CAPP members to report water reuse in Western Canada horizontal, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing operations in 2011. Some 5 percent of water was reused in these projects, the report says. CAPP says that the industry recognizes that this level of water use “must be improved.”
A report released in August by Stony Brook University found that the disposal of contaminated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing wells presents risks from salts and radioactive materials that are “several orders of magnitude larger” than for other potential water pollution events.
The total well count (active plus inactive wells) in Western Canada increased 14 per cent to 36,843 wells last year. Of the 32,684 abandoned conventional wells, 50 percent are under active reclamation, 23 per cent are being assessed and 27 per cent are temporarily deferred. Total active footprint for oil sands mining operations was up seven per cent in 2011 to 76,070 hectares, including 10 per cent in some stage of the reclamation process, the report says.
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