‘Dirty oil’ label prompts trade complaint against EU

Canada is threatening to take Europe to the world’s trading body if it persists in trying to single out oilsands crude as dirty oil.

OTTAWA — Canada is threatening to take Europe to the world’s trading body if it persists in trying to single out oilsands crude as dirty oil.

The threat was contained in a letter sent by Canadian ambassador to the European Union, David Plunkett, in December, which was obtained by the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Canada has complained in the past about efforts in Europe to single out oilsands crude in the new Fuel Quality Directive that aims to curb emissions from transport fuels by 10 per cent. But it has not explicitly threatened publicly to take the issue to the World Trade Organization for adjudication.

The new European standards are being voted on Thursday and if approved will go to the full European parliament.

The directive assigns carbon values to different sources of crude, with oilsands bitumen valued at 23 per cent more than conventional oil. Shale oil is given an even higher carbon value.

The sticking point is that the European directive appears to put oilsands in a different category.

“Canada will not accept oilsands crude being singled out in the Fuel Quality Directive as an entirely separate feedstock from other crudes which are bundled together under a single default value,” Plunkett writes Connie Hadegaard, the EU’s commissioner for climate action.

“I want to again state that Canada will explore every avenue at its disposal to defend its interests, including at the World Trade Organization.”

Last week, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told a pipeline conference in Calgary that Europe intends to put “oilsands oil in a separate category.”

Oliver said the EU conveniently ignores the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from Russian and Iranian oil production.

A spokesperson for the minister said Canada will insist any decisions made by Europe are based on science and “will review all options going forward.”

But pulling out of free trade talks with Europe is not an option, said Rudy Husny, a spokesperson for Trade Minister Ed Fast, who has made reaching a comprehensive deal with the world’s largest market this year a top priority.

“This matter is not linked to our commitment to productive free trade discussions with the European Union,” he said in an email response.

Canada currently sells very little if any oil to Europe, but oil interests in Canada say a ban or a restriction could serve as a precedent and would deal another blow to the resource following the setback to the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would connect oilsands crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast

Plunkett’s letter states that oilsands crude is internationally recognized as heavy crude, whereas the European proposal would have it seen as a separate item classified as “natural bitumen.”

“All crude oils, including oilsands crude, are … comprised of a common set of chemical compounds and physical attributes,” the letter argues. “For oilsands crude, these characteristics are well within the continuum of those of heavy crudes commonly traded on the global market.”

Just Posted

Red Deer to get new plan to end homelessness as problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

‘A stronger Alberta:’ Ottawa announces $1.6B for Canada’s oil and gas sector

Ottawa is spending $1.6 billion to help struggling energy companies stay afloat,… Continue reading

Canada ranks 16th on World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap list

TORONTO — Canada has landed the 16th spot in the World Economic… Continue reading

Steel, aluminum tariffs impacting one-third of Canadian exporters: poll

OTTAWA — More than one-third of Canadian exporters say they have been… Continue reading

Canada has fifth biggest AI workforce, but still lacks diversity: study

TORONTO — Canada has the globe’s fifth largest artificial intelligence workforce, but… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Most Read