Canada’s oil sands dispute with EU flares

After raising the possibility of filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization and potentially getting into a trade war with the European Union, Canada’s minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver says Canada is not looking for a fight. Yesterday, Oliver warned EU officials against “discriminatory treatment” of fuels made from products of Canadian oil sands. Oliver met in Brussels with European Commission officials including Gunther Oettinger, commissioner for energy, and Antonio Tajani, vice-president of the EC responsible for industry and entrepreneurship.

Al Gore was in Canada over the weekend and according to Joe Oliver, Canada’s energy minister, made “wildly inaccurate” statements about the oil sands. Gore said, among other things, that there is no such thing as “ethical oil.”

The heart of the dispute is a proposed Fuel Quality Directive put forward by the EC, which assigns fuels derived from oil sands an especially high value in calculations of “greenhouse gas intensity.” This is one of the key parameters in proposed controls on vehicle fuel. European refiners who used heavy feedstock from Canada would be penalized under the proposal.

However, at this time Canada does not export oil to Europe. Nevertheless, environmental groups in Europe continue to campaign against oil-sands products, which they say contribute disproportionately to emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and global warming.

Oliver said in London today that while Canada hopes for a positive outcome in the dispute with the EC, he would still consider going to the WTO if changes to the Fuel Quality Directive are not made. He said that Canada was simply looking for a “science-based” approach that is fair. How likely that is remains a big question, as the directive has already been adopted and is in the process of being implemented.

Canada and the oil sands industry have always maintained that GHG emissions and chemical properties of oil sands crude are similar to those of other heavy crudes produced elsewhere in the world and consumed in Europe.

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Expansion of wine and beer sales in Ontario grocery stores condemned by OPSEU
  • Canada Goose expanding workforce, launching global ad campaign
  • Toronto researchers reveal spray-on photovoltaics
  • With a 500 km range and 408 horsepower, Volvo's new Polestar EV may rival Tesla
  • 3D printed hempcrete could revolutionize construction industry
  • Bombardier flies new CSeries jet for first time
  • Vitamin-derived battery created by U of T chemists
  • Quebec aerospace industry in good shape despite setbacks
  • Self-Driving Robo Taxis
  • US resumes exports of LNG
  • Oil drags capital spending down, though some bright spots remain: Statistics Canada
  • Government urges aerospace innovation, adoption of new technologies
  • New catalyst could help bring hydrogen fuel economy closer
  • Organic, water-based battery a game-changer for renewable energy
  • TransCanada's Energy East pipeline has building trades support
  • Windsor's good fortune with Chrysler hiring tempered by TPP concerns
  • Aerospace industry "steady but unspectacular" in 2013: Conference Board
  • Canadian oil production up; producers turning to railways for shipment
  • Guidelines released for self-driving cars by Trump administration: "future of safety and mobility" according to some; recipe for "disaster" say others
  • Canadian company to provide modular housing for refugees in Sweden
Scroll to Top