Varcoe: Canadian and U.S. oilpatch adopt different view on climate action

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And with a national price on carbon in place — climbing to $170 per tonne by 2030 — there are clear financial incentives to lower their GHG levels.

Finally, companies in Canada have also found themselves in the centre of an intense spotlight for more than a decade because of the higher-than-average emissions in the oilsands.

An aerial view of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s oilsands mining operation near Fort McKay, Alta. Photo by Ryan Jackson/Edmonton Journal files

In 2018, the oil and gas sector accounted for 26 per cent of all Canadian emissions; as oilsands production has climbed, those GHG levels rose by 22 per cent since 2005.

“Part of it is the U.S. just hasn’t come under that pressure because they have lower emissions per barrel … Canada is trying to get down to where the U.S. is now,” said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist for Greenpeace Canada.

The Canadian industry has been making progress, implementing new technology and looking to innovate.

A study by consultancy IHS Markit last year found the emissions-per-barrel coming from the oilsands dipped by about two per cent in 2018 and by about 20 per cent in the previous decade.

“This is a country and an industry in Canada that is fully seized with this issue,” said Tristan Goodman of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada.

Duncan Au, chief executive of CWC Energy Services, which operates drilling and service rigs in Canada and the United States, wasn’t surprised by the survey results.

Canada has taken more stringent action to lower methane emissions than in the U.S., he pointed out.

“Here in Canada, given the scrutiny we have had with our oilsands play and the emissions it produces, we have been much more cognizant of trying to find innovations to deal with those matters over time,” he said.

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