In-situ emissions 43 per cent higher than mining
According to a recent analysis by the Pembina Institute, in-situ extraction produced an average of 43 per cent more emissions per barrel than mining in 2016. That’s a serious concern for climate policy analysts given that all new oilsands production after roughly 2022 will come from in-situ projects.
Ambitious claims are frequently made by industry and government that per-barrel emissions will soon plummet with the implementation of new technologies.
But Pembina analyst Jan Gorski told The Narwhal that most emissions reductions have occurred in upgrading, not extraction, with little signs of improvement in mining or in-situ extraction.
Furthermore, the most promising technologies are still in early stages and will only apply to new projects, not expansions (which is where production is set to grow).
“The greater question is that it hasn’t yet been shown how oilsands emissions, even as they are today, would be compatible with our emissions targets,” Gorski said.
“You take into account that there’s going to be more growth and it just makes the problem worse.”
Recent studies have also questioned current estimates of methane leakage from extraction of natural gas, used heavily by in-situ producers. A journal article in Elementa from earlier this year indicated that emissions from operations near Red Deer may be 15 times higher than reported.