European Protests Over Imports of Tar Sands Oil

June 13, 2014 | Market Watch: Industry News

Tar Sands Oil has Been Imported into Spain.

Protests have taken place after the first major importation of tar sands oil was completed in Europe, with 570,000 barrels of Western Canada Select heavy blend crude arriving in Spain.

A spokesman for Repsol described the move as offering a chance to give a future for oil refining in Europe. Tar sands oil has been controversial as it is believed to be more polluting than other forms of crude.

The port of Bilbao in Spain was the scene of the protests and Mariano Gonzalez of Ecologists in Action told the Guardian that “this was a good occasion to raise awareness about what’s happening and express our disapproval”.

Mr Gonzalez pointed out that it was a test shipment, which means it is vital the European Union (EU) takes steps to prevent it from becoming a regular occurrence.

Canada has complained about proposed EU rules that would mean tar sands oil would have to be labelled as being more polluting than other types of crude.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper suggested Europe should instead view the supply of oil from Canada as more secure than options from Ukraine, which is in the grip of major political upheaval after Russian leader Vladimir Putin moved troops into the disputed Crimea region.

Securing Global Supplies

Speaking to reporters after G7 talks in Brussels this week, Mr Harper said: “We don’t see the crisis in Ukraine as simply an opportunity to market Canadian products, but obviously we’re deeply engaged in an discussion with our allies on how we can make sure that globally our energy supplies are secure and stable.”

EU policymakers have proposed changes that would mean companies would have to report an EU-wide average of the emissions for raw materials, Reuters reports. If these proposals were to go through, it could mean potential hurdles for Canada in selling tar sands oil to Europe are taken away, opening up a new market to the North American country.

Canada has the largest deposits of tar sands oil in the world, with much of the commodity being found in Alberta. Venezuela is another of the world’s major resources for the oil, while there are deposits all over the Middle East as well. The US has some tar sands, with much of the oil in eastern Utah, where it is situated under public land.


For more information on tar sands oil

The FT reports that Canada could win large environmental concession in EU:

The Guardian reports on protests about first shipment into Spain:

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