* Higher value for tar sands retained, but voluntary
* Canada raised issue on sidelines of G7 talks
* Commission still debating the draft
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, June 5 European Union policymakers
propose to scrap a mandatory requirement to label oil from tar
sands as more polluting than other forms of crude following
years of lobbying from top producer Canada, according to a draft
document seen by Reuters.
The change removes one obstacle to Canada shipping crude
from tar sands to Europe, but will be criticised by
The clay-like sands have to be dug up in open-pit mines with
massive shovels, or blasted with steam and pumped to the
surface, before oil can be extracted.
As a result, the oil costs more to produce than regular
crude, uses more water and energy, and emits more carbon.
Canada, oil majors and the refining industry have fiercely
opposed EU plans to label tar sands as highly polluting.
In the context of the Russia/Ukraine crisis and fears about
European energy security, Canada argues Europe should be
embracing its oil as a secure form of energy.
"We don't see the crisis in Ukraine as simply an opportunity
to market Canadian products, but obviously we're deeply engaged
in a discussion with our allies on how we can make sure that
globally our energy supplies are secure and stable," Canadian
Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters after G7 talks in
Brussels on Thursday.
He did not specifically mention the proposed EU law, but
Canada's natural resources minister said he raised it on the
sidelines of G7 energy ministers' talks in Rome last month.
The European Commission draft document seen by Reuters
proposes that oil refiners would only have to report an EU-wide
average of the emissions for the feedstock they use.
"The proposed methodology requires suppliers to report a
(European) Union average greenhouse gas emission intensity per
fuel with an option to report supplier specific values," the
In an annex, it retains the value of 107 grams of CO2 for
natural bitumen, another name for tar sands, compared with 93.2
for conventional crude, but refiners would not have to report
using crudes with the higher value.
However, the draft proposes a review by the end of 2016 to
again address the case for introducing higher values for
individual fuel sources.
The debate about labelling tar sands as particularly dirty
dates back to 2009 when EU member states approved legislation
with the aim of cutting greenhouse gases from transport fuel
sold in Europe by 6 percent by 2020, but failed to agree how to
In 2011, the Commission agreed tar sands should be given the
107 grams of CO2 value, but member states could not agree on the
proposal and the Commission has been reconsidering it ever
Many scientists, however, say that tar sands oil should be
left in the ground if the world is to stand a chance of
preventing the most devastating consequences of global warming.
The Commission said it could not comment on an unpublished
draft, which is still being discussed within the EU executive.
(additional reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels and David
Ljunggren in Ottawa; editing by Jason Neely)