The new European rules which consider the oil extracted from tar sands more polluting than crude oil have triggered a controversial debate in Brussels.
The EU is negotiating the revision of the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) with the aim of encouraging the use of low carbon transport fuels and discouraging the use of high-emission crude oil. It aims to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions from road transport by 6% before 2020.
A recent independent study by Stanford University for the European Commission concluded that oil from tar sands leads to 23% higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude oil. Based on this research it has been suggested that the FQD be amended to label oil sourced from the tar sands as more polluting than conventional oil.
The draft of the Directive revision states that the production of a megajoule of energy from oil tar sands causes the emission of 107 g of greenhouse gases, 22% more than conventional crude oil.
However, the committee that brings together the European Commission, Parliament and Council has not reached a qualified majority to decide on the proposal. The debate now moves to the Member States, said Commission spokesman Isaac Valero Ladron.
Canada’s vast tar sands are the second largest reserve of oil after Saudi Arabia and many of Europe’s largest oil companies have major interests in the fields, including BP, Shell, Total and Statoil, aiming to boost export to Europe.
Darek Urbaniak, Internationa Campaigner at Friends of Earth Europe said: “Some European governments have given in to Canadian government and oil lobby pressure, instead of saying no to climate-hostile tar sands. High-polluting sources of fuels, such as tar sands, must be cleaned up or kept out of Europe