Posted April 13, 2011
Energy Tribune: What's the Alternative to Oil Sands?: We have had a tendency to view Canada as the Saudi Arabia of the north. Considering that we now receive more oil from there than from all the countries of the Persian Gulf combined, and that our NAFTA partner's proved reserves of 178 billion barrels are second only to those of the Kingdom, that's not unreasonable. As recently as 2002, though, Canada's oil reserves were under 6 billion barrels, before the oil sands could be booked as reserves in large quantities. Without its oil sands, Canada would be just another mature oil province with declining conventional output. The question of how rapidly to develop those resources, and whether to export their output outside North America to any significant degree, is currently a hot topic in Canadian politics. The pipeline to transport this oil to Kitimat, British Columbia for export to Asia seems to be subject to a similar debate to the one we're having in this country concerning the Keystone XL line from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. But what if these projects didn't go forward? A world without oil sands might have a little less in the way of greenhouse gas emissions, but it would also have much higher oil prices, and those prices would be more volatile. Red State: Energy Flow: Sources and Uses: Observations: We have truly huge, energy-based economy. It doesn't turn on a dime. The U.S. consumes 25% of the world's petroleum, and produces, not coincidentally, 25% of global GDP. As much as we hear about "renewable energy", the dominant renewable source is hydropower. The greens want less hydropower, not more. Solar is coded yellow in this graphic. Wind is in purple. They are only used to generate electricity. The primary sources of electricity are coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. Wind and solar would have to grow explosively for many years to become a significant source of electricity. Natural gas is the most versatile fuel on the chart. It is a major source of all energy except transportation, and it has growth potential in that market. We have an ample supply of gas, which is clean, efficient and nearly 100% domestic.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rayola Dougher is senior economist at The American Petroleum Institute (API), where she analyzes information, manages projects and develops briefing materials on energy markets and oil industry policy issues. She is the author or co-author of economic research studies covering a diverse range of topics including crude oil and petroleum product markets, gasoline taxes, energy conservation and competition in retail markets. In addition to testifying before federal and state legislators, she has participated in numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews on a wide range of issues affecting the oil industry, including crude oil and gasoline prices, industry taxes and earnings, exploration and production, and refining and marketing topics.
Prior to joining API, Rayola worked at the Institute for Energy Analysis where her research focused on carbon dioxide related issues and international energy demand and supply forecasts. Rayola holds a Masters degree in Economic Development and East Asian studies from the American University and a degree in History and Political Science from the State University of New York at Brockport.