Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

ConocoPhilips: No "Quick fixes"; Describes pipes from Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico

As the world increasingly becomes terrified of the consequences of climate change, peak oil realities leave only the worst possible oil left, in terms of net energy and in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Smart corporations-- and oil and pipeline companies are definitely clever-- will start to shift from a lack of concern to "feeling the same pain" but "warning against" taking appropriate measures. If one wants, they can still make money hacking away for corporations in the Lower 48 who will pay for "studies" that disprove or downplay climate change. Yet, at the same time this article describes the massive spider's web of industrial sprawl the continent over.

ConocoPhilips is much more long term in their thinking on how to preserve their industry: Ignore that their industry is the primary problem, and re-cast themselves as the partner for change, but not climate change. Wal Mart portrays itself as a "friend of the poor", so certainly this gambit on the part of ConocoPhilips may have some political capital from those who feel powerless but desperately are clinging to the belief there is hope outside of a social justice movement to stop production in the Athabasca, Peace and Cold Lake Regions of Alberta, and end all associated pipeline and infrastructure development continent wide, from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.


No easy fix on emissions: Conoco
New technology needed to prevent economic upheaval, energy boss says

CALGARY -- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the oil sands will not happen quickly, said Kevin Meyers, president of ConocoPhillips Canada, one of the country's largest energy companies.

"We need to allow the time for technology to be developed so we can implement this without major economic upheavals," Mr. Meyers said in an interview at the company's Calgary headquarters yesterday.

Earlier this week, ConocoPhillips Co., the third-largest energy company in the United States, became the first oil firm to call on Congress and the President to pass legislation to either tax carbon dioxide emissions or impose a cap on those emissions, which are the leading cause of global warming.

The company's production, after royalties, was 1.96 million barrels of oil and natural gas a day in 2006, with about 40 per cent of that in the U.S. and 12 per cent in Canada. The Alberta oil sands is a major growth area, with the eventual potential of more than 400,000 barrels a day from several projects, up from about 30,000 a barrels a day now from its 9-per-cent stake in miner Syncrude Canada Ltd.

But with such aggressive growth, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to surge as well. Mr. Meyers said Conoco is working on several technologies, including ones that capture carbon dioxide emissions. It is also working on ways to reduce the amount of steam it will use at its projects where wells are drilled and steam is injected to coax gooey bitumen to the surface. Like other companies such as Husky Energy Inc., Mr. Meyers said nuclear power is a possibility.

Mr. Meyers said the key balance is to not push change too quickly "so we don't have short-term major disruptions to local economies, to people, to jobs."

He also said he is concerned about several expected changes in the oil sands, including greenhouse gas regulation and possible royalty increases.

"I don't want to see these projects slow down," Mr. Meyers said.

Beyond Syncrude, Conoco Canada has a 50-per-cent stake in a steam injection project called Surmont, which begins operations this year, and a 50-per-cent stake in EnCana Corp.'s steam injection projects.

EnCana and Conoco joined forces last year, with Conoco giving up a 50-per-cent stake in several of its refineries in the U.S., where much of EnCana's oil sands output will be upgraded into synthetic oil and then refined into gasoline and other products. Mr. Meyers said the partnership is going well.

A key link to move the raw bitumen to the U.S. will be TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Keystone pipeline, which would connect Alberta with southern Illinois, where Conoco-EnCana have a refinery, as well as a potential extension to Cushing, Okla., near the other Conoco-EnCana refinery.

The pipeline may also be further extended to the Houston area, where Conoco has its largest refinery, but Mr. Meyers said he wouldn't comment on that possibility.

In late 2005, Conoco signed a deal with TransCanada, committing to a long-term shipping deal on Keystone with the option to take an equity stake of up to 50 per cent in the pipeline.

Conoco Canada is also part of the struggling proposal for a Mackenzie Valley natural gas project, which would see a pipeline built to connect natural gas in the Mackenzie Delta with northern Alberta. Conoco owns 75 per cent of one of the gas fields.

Project leader Imperial Oil Ltd. said last month that the cost of the whole project has more than doubled to $16.2-billion and requires significant support from Ottawa totalling several billion dollars. Mr. Meyers said he is hopeful the project will be supported by the federal government.

Mr. Meyers became president of ConocoPhillips Canada several months ago, coming to the job after running Conoco's Russian business.

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