Joule Bergerson, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering is seen in this undated handout photo. New research concludes that Canada has one of the most carbon intensive oil industries in the world. But the same University of Calgary study says Canada is a world leader in regulations that could reduce the industry’s global climate change impact. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

Study concludes Canadian oilpatch rules could cut global emissions

Canada’s industry has rules that if adopted worldwide could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions

Research suggests Canadian oil is among the world’s most carbon-heavy, but Canada’s industry also has rules that if adopted worldwide could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Joule Bergerson of the University of Calgary said emissions from oil production could be cut by almost a quarter if oil-producing countries adopted regulations similar to Canada’s that limit the amount of gas flared or vented into the air.

“It could make quite a bit of difference,” said Bergerson, a co-author of a paper funded by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and published in the journal Science.

Bergerson and her colleagues from Stanford University in California analyzed how much carbon was contained in oil from nearly 9,000 oilfields in 90 countries, representing about 98 per cent of global production. Using data from satellites, industry, government and previous research, they also estimated how much methane and other greenhouse gases were released along with the oil.

They added the two sources of climate-changing emissions together and calculated how much of them were released per barrel of oil. That calculation showed Canada’s oilpatch was the fourth most carbon-intensive on the planet behind Algeria, Venezuela and Cameroon.

RELATED: Natural Resources committee meets to talk about pipeline decision

Canada’s rating was nearly twice the global average.

“We’ve known that for quite some time, that it’s a more difficult resource to get out of the ground,” Bergerson said. “That results in additional greenhouse gas emissions.”

What was surprising was the difference that flaring and venting made to carbon emissions. The paper concludes that about half of the highest-carbon oil comes from fields with high rates of flaring and venting.

Gas releases are why Algeria and Cameroon are more carbon-intensive than Canada, said Bergerson.

Gas flaring increased steadily between 2010 and 2016, the paper says. That includes countries such as the United States, where flaring has nearly quadrupled.

Those increases could be stopped if everyone took a more Canadian approach, which Bergerson described as world-leading.

The paper points out that in Canadian offshore fields, production restrictions are imposed if flaring is excessive.

In Alberta, flaring fell nearly two-thirds between 1996 and 2014.

The paper concludes that if minimal flaring standards were imposed worldwide, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from producing the average barrel of oil would fall by 23 per cent.

Duncan Kenyon of the energy think tank Pembina Institute agreed flaring in Canada’s oilpatch is well-regulated.

“If we were to take Canadian regulations and applied them globally we’d be way better off,” Kenyon said.

RELATED: B.C. natural-gas pipeline challenger says he’s received threats

But he pointed out several recent studies that have measured emissions in Canadian oil facilities have found much higher readings than industry estimates.

“We severely under-report our methane emissions,” he said. “We’re having a serious compliance and enforcement issue.”

Kenyon said under-reporting is common around the world.

While most carbon from fossil fuels is released when they are burned, cutting releases from production also matters, Bergerson said.

“This is the evolution, to adopt much more stringent regulations.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Come run for Terry this Sunday

Terry Fox Run in Invermere raises funds for cancer research

Council rejects water bottling plant in current spot

Cites possibility to having facility built at another location in the village

Climate change website launched by Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Trust

The site features climate information for communities in the Columbia Basin and boundary region

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read