Froth treatment of oil sands bitumen reduces environmental impact

Environmentalists bitterly complain about the CO2 emissions from the Canadian oil sands. But the oil sands are on their way to becoming as clean or cleaner than conventional oil. This is just one step in that process:

Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest energy companies, are rolling out technology intended to eliminate the environmental disadvantage of Canadian oil sands.

A new process known as high-temperature froth treatment cuts carbon emissions from extracting crude from sand and mud by 10 to 15 percent, said Brad Komishke, a Shell chemist who leads 50 scientists developing new oil-sands techniques in Calgary…

About 60 percent of crude from the tar sands is exported to the U.S., where environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council have pressed lawmakers to enact fuel standards forcing producers to either cut the emissions impact of their products or buy carbon credits. Oil from Canada’s tar sands generates as much as 40 percent more carbon-dioxide emissions than conventional wells, the council says. The Alberta Energy Research Institute estimates the gap at 10 percent.


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