Myth vs. Fact: Crude Oil is the Dirtiest Oil on Earth

MYTH: Crude oil derived from the oil sands is the “dirtiest oil on earth” and increasing its development means “game over for the climate.”

FACT: Oil sands crude oil has similar characteristics to most heavy oils refined in the United States and its use will not have the catastrophic effect on climate that many opponents suggest.

Prior to being transported via pipeline from the extraction site, oil sands crude is upgraded to a standard similar to other heavy crude oils commonly transported throughout the country, including locally-produced California heavy crude.[1] That means oil sands crude has similar emissions as other heavy oils as well,  and according to CERA, is only 6 percent more carbon intensive than the U.S. crude supply average (on a well-to-wheels basis).[2] Moreover, since 1990, GHG emissions associated with every barrel of Canadian oil sands crude produced have been reduced by 29 percent.[3]



[1] Alberta Innovates, Comparison of the Corrosivity of Dilbit and Conventional Crude, Nov 2011

[2] IHS CERA, Oil Sands, Greenhouse Gases, and US Oil Supply, 2010

[3] Environment Canada, 2011

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  1. [...] According to Alberta Innovates, a government-led initiative, prior to being transported via pipeline from the extraction site, oil [...]

  2. [...] According to IHS CERA, oil sands crude is only 6 percent more carbon intensive than conventional U.S. crude oils when considering lifecycle emissions (from [...]

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