Now Available: New Comprehensive IHS Research Report on Important Canadian Oil Sands Questions

Report contains new and updated findings from ongoing IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue research, including greenhouse gas emissions, environmental regulation and pipelines, among others

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 11:57 am EST


CALGARY, Alberta
"Over the past decade the Canadian oil sands have moved from the fringe to become a key pillar of global oil supply"

(November 5, 2013) – A new report drawing on more than four years of IHS oil sands research is now available—complete with new insights and analysis. The report, Critical Questions for the Canadian Oil Sands, builds on research by the IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue since it was founded in 2009.

In addition to providing new analysis on such issues as the role of oil sands in U.S. oil supply and the economics of oil sands production, the report also includes a new review of environmental regulations as well as the latest research on regional environmental effects.

The report expands IHS research on greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of oil sands, and concludes that the GHG intensity of crude from oil sands relative to other crudes imported to U.S. is lower than often assumed. The IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue research determined that total emissions from oil sands products refined in the United States are 4 to 23 percent higher than the average crude oil processed in the U.S; with an average of 12 percent (this includes off-site emissions from electricity generation and natural gas production). At this level, oil sands are on par with other sources of U.S. crude, including crudes from Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq and heavy oil production in the U.S.

“The aim of the IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue is to inform debate surrounding oil sands development by engaging a wide set of perspectives and digging deep into crucial issues,” said Jackie Forrest, IHS senior director, who heads the Oil Sands Dialogue. “This new report is a milestone and serves as an important guide, providing the opportunity to develop new research, focus in on critical questions for oil sands and monitor change across the full breadth of issues.”

“Over the past decade the Canadian oil sands have moved from the fringe to become a key pillar of global oil supply,” added Kevin Birn, IHS associate director. “This growth has made oil sands the single largest source of U.S. oil imports and also a key source of global supply growth that could account for 16 percent of all new oil production by 2030. Today, the output of just Canadian oil sands—excluding all other Canadian oil production—is greater than the output of five out of the 12 members of OPEC.”

Critical Questions for the Canadian Oil Sands also examines the pace of technological innovation in oil sands development and the growing role of collaboration among companies within the industry, especially on environmental issues. The report also reviews questions regarding transportation of oil sands via pipeline, finding that oil sands are of no greater risk of pipeline incidents than other crudes.

The IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue convenes stakeholders in the oil sands to participate in objective analysis in the benefits, costs and impacts of various choices associated with Canadian oil sands development. Participants include representatives from governments, regulators, oil companies, pipeline companies, academia and nongovernmental organizations. IHS is solely responsible for the content and conclusions of the research.

Critical Questions for the Canadian Oil Sands and all other IHS CERA Oil Sands Dialogue Research is available at


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Energy; Natural Resources
Jeff Marn, +1 202 463 8213
Energy Strategy, Renewable Energy