'Sensible environmentalist' reviews reclaimed oil sands sites

CALGARY, Sept. 26, 2011 /CNW/ - Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace and a self-described sensible environmentalist, said today that reclamation work under way in Alberta's oil sands demonstrates the resource is being developed in an environmentally responsible way.

"I've seen the land reclamation progress at oil sands sites," Dr. Moore said. "It's a necessary, staggeringly complex process and evidence shows the land will be reclaimed as thriving ecosystems after oil sands are developed to help meet the world's growing energy needs."

Dr. Moore is the author of Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout, released earlier this year. The book explains why he left Greenpeace, 15 years after co-founding it, to establish a science-based approach to environmentalism.

The sensible environmentalist appears in newspaper and television advertisements currently airing across Canada as part of an information campaign sponsored by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), whose members represent more than 90 per cent of Canada's oil and gas production, including oil sands. The information campaign is founded on the continuous improvement in environmental performance being demonstrated by oil sands producers.

According to polling data commissioned by CAPP, over 75 per cent of all Canadians support oil sands development, provided environmental impacts are managed and reduced.

"Our research shows Canadians want to see tangible examples of oil sands environmental performance improvement," said CAPP vice-president Janet Annesley. "Advertising is one way to tell people about the good work being done to ensure responsible development of this resource - the third-largest source of oil on the planet."

TV advertisements featuring Dr. Patrick Moore, University of Alberta Engineering Dean Dr. David Lynch, and a number of oil sands industry employees engaged in operations, engineering, environmental management and research can be found here: www.oilsandstoday.ca

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) represents companies, large and small, that explore for, develop and produce natural gas and crude oil throughout Canada. CAPP's member companies produce more than 90 per cent of Canada's natural gas and crude oil. CAPP's associate members provide a wide range of services that support the upstream crude oil and natural gas industry. Together CAPP's members and associate members are an important part of a national industry with revenues of about $100 billion-a-year. CAPP's mission is to enhance the economic sustainability of the Canadian upstream petroleum industry in a safe and environmentally and socially responsible manner, through constructive engagement and communication with governments, the public and stakeholders in the communities in which we operate.

Oil sands background information attached.


The Facts on Oil Sands: Land, GHGs and Water

Oil Sands Land Reclamation Facts

  • 94 per cent of the Lower Athabasca region's living resources are intact according to an Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) report. (Alberta Environment 2010)
  • 0.02 per cent (2/1000ths) of Canada's boreal forest has been disturbed by oil sands mining operations over the past 40 years. (Alberta Environment 2011)
  • 10 per cent of the active mining footprint has been or is being reclaimed by industry. Reclaimed land will be certified by government when it can be returned to public use (Alberta Environment 2011)
  • 90,000 square kilometers, about 24 per cent, of Alberta's boreal forest is protected from development (includes National Parks, etc).
  • Alberta law requires that all land disturbed by oil sands operations be reclaimed. All companies are required to develop a reclamation plan that spans the life of the project.
  • Reclamation is an ongoing process during the life of a project. Companies can apply for government reclamation certification when vegetation is mature, the landscape is self-sustaining and then and can be returned to the Crown for public use.
  • The reclamation process involved monitoring, seeding, fertilizing, tree planting, seed collecting, topsoil salvaging and replacing. It also involves significant landform creation and contouring.

Oil Sands & Land Use

  • Alberta's oil sands lie under 142,200 square kilometers of land. Only about 3 per cent, or 4,802 square kilometers could ever be impacted by the mining method of extracting oil sands.
  • The remaining reserves that underlie 97 per cent of the oil sands surface area are recoverable by drilling (in situ) methods which require very little surface land disturbance.

Oil Sands GHG Emissions

  • Oil sands crude has similar carbon dioxide emissions to other heavy oils and is 6 per cent more intensive than the U.S. crude supply average on a wells-to-wheels basis. (CERA 2010)
  • Canadian oil sands producers are striving to further reduce life-cycle (wells-to-wheels) GHG emissions per barrel, with the objective of being as good or better than competing supplies in the world market.
  • Since 1990, GHG emissions associated with every barrel of oil sands crude produced have been reduced by 29 per cent.
  • The Government of Alberta implemented GHG regulations in 2007 (the first jurisdiction in North America to do so) requiring a mandatory 12 per cent reduction in GHG emissions intensity for all large industrial sectors including existing oil sands facilities, or a payment in lieu (current carbon price is $15/tonne).
  • The governments of Canada and Alberta are investing approximately $3 billion to help make Canada a global leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Industry and government are cooperating to demonstrate the commercial and technical viability of CCS in Canada.

Oil Sands & Water

  • Mining production requires 2 to 4 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil produced. (CAPP 2009)
  • Drilling (in situ) current requires an average of 0.5 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil produced (CAPP 2009).
  • Oil sands producers recycle 80 to 90 per cent of water used. (Alberta Environment)
  • In 2009, the oil sands industry withdrew 3.4 million cubic meters of water per second (total of 107 million cubic meters) from the Athabasca River. This is 0.5 per cent of average total river flows and about 3.4 per cent of the lowest weekly winter flow. (Alberta Environment)
  • In 2010, the Royal Society of Canada commissioned an Expert Panel of Canadian Scientists to review and assess evidence of oil sands environmental impacts. It said, "Current evidence on water quality impacts on the Athabasca River system suggest that oil sands development activities are not a threat to aquatic ecosystem viability." (Royal Society of Canada)
  • The oil sands industry supports plans by government to ensure robust third-party scientific monitoring of water quality and quantity in the Athabasca region.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

For further information:

Dr. Patrick Moore and CAPP are available for interview. For additional information, please contact:

Travis Davies, Manager of Media Relations
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
(P): 403-267-1151
(M): 403-542-4115
(E): travis.davies@capp.ca
Dawn Sondergaard
Greenspirit Strategies Ltd
(P): 604-681-4122
(E): dawn@greenspiritstrategies.com


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