Alberta Air Pollution Levels High in Sulphur and Nitrogen Reports Environment Canada

Environment Canada recently released images showing air emissions modelling results across Alberta. These images are a reminder of how a small number of large sources mix together to pollute the air Albertans breathe, resulting in increased risks to human health.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.pembina.org

“[…] SO2 and NOx emissions impact human health not only because they can cause direct harm, but also because they can react in the atmosphere to create fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The Alberta government has found that NOx and SO2 are the main causes of past incidents where PM2.5­ concentrations have exceeded Canada’s air quality standards.

PM2.5 can cause asthma attacks, hospitalizations and even premature death, as we’ve summarized before. It’s a particular concern in Alberta, where PM2.5 is putting us on track to have the worst air quality in Canada, and Edmonton’s pollution levels are exceeding Toronto’s.

These images underscore the cumulative impacts of a small number of very large industrial emissions sources — particularly coal plants, the oilsands and refineries — in addition to distributed industrial activities such as oil and gas operations. Those may all be separate sources, but their emissions end up in the same air. Pollutants from these different sources mix together in the air Albertans breathe, resulting in increased risks to human health. […]

Alberta is unique in the western half of North America for its mid- and high-level readings. The province more closely resembles the densely populated mid-Atlantic region of the United States, or the coal-burning Midwest, than our western neighbours.

Problem spots near coal plants, refineries and the oilsands

Another image shows how SO2 and NOX that is released into the atmosphere returns to ground level, or “deposits.” The image reveals a clear concentration (the orange and red spots) of the two pollutants being deposited around both Edmonton and the oilsands in northeast Alberta.

Edmonton is sandwiched between three large coal-burning power plants, which are clustered near Wabamun Lake west of Edmonton, and refineries on the east side of the city.

The video that AEMERA posted shows modelled SO2 plumes from large emitters across British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The three-dimensional plumes reflect SO2 concentrations of at least three parts per billion. How the plumes travel was modelled using real weather conditions from a four-week period in the fall of 2013.

The video visually represents where SO2 is generated, how it moves through the atmosphere and where it eventually lands. As SO2 deposits on the ground, the land surface in the video changes colour to indicate where higher depositions are modelled. Although the specifics will differ for other pollutants, the video is representative of how airborne pollutants generally are dispersed and deposited.

It’s not particularly surprising to see that SO2 pollution originates from oil and gas production, coal plants and the oilsands — Alberta’s three largest-emitting sectors, by far. But seeing how much of the province is affected by these plumes may come as a shock.

The video shows that major industrial emissions do not blow in the direction of the prevailing wind pattern. Rather, they shift directions and can be combined with pollutants emitted in different areas. This raises concerns about environmental evaluations for new industrial emitters, since those evaluations focus on a much smaller area around the polluter — and focus on prevailing winds — rather than these dynamic wind patterns.

The data used for the oilsands is from 2010, so it discounts the emissions growth in that region over the last five years. The data for the rest of the sources is from 2006. In terms of coal emissions, these images correspond closely to today’s reality: NOx and SO2 in 2014 are at nearly the same levels as in 2006. […]”

 

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New Alberta Oilsands Projects to Start Up Despite Falling Oil Prices

Oil producers are set to be squeezed as a total of 14 new oilsands projects are scheduled to start next year while crude prices continue to fall

Source: business.financialpost.com

” […] “There is a lot of crude coming on next year,” Juan Osuna, IHS Energy Inc.’s senior director for North American oil said in a phone interview Dec. 12. Producers “aren’t going to be happy, they will make a greater effort to cut costs, but they have been prepared for this.”

Western Canadian Select fell to US$39.38 a barrel Monday, the lowest since April 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The grade, which has higher sulfur content than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate, sold at an average US$18.78 a- barrel discount in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oilsands projects slated to start next year include ConocoPhillips and Total SA’s joint 118,000 barrel a day Surmont project and the 40,000-barrel-a-day expansion of Cenovus Energy Inc.’s Foster Creek project […]

Sunrise Project

Husky Energy Inc. said last week it began steam operations on its Sunrise crude project with the first phase set to begin pumping oil by early next year.

While oilsands producers may curtail future development, most existing operations won’t be shut and ones under construction will go ahead because of the investments involved and potential harm to future output, Osuna said.

Cenovus said Dec. 11 production would rise 9 per cent to 129,000 barrels a day from its Foster Creek and Christina Lake projects next year even as it lowered its spending plan by about 15 per cent.

Canada’s oilsands output is projected to rise to 3.7 million barrels a day by 2020 from 1.98 million last year, according to a report last month by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Brent oil traded near US$61 a barrel Monday as the United Arab Emirates said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will resist output cuts even if prices slump as low as US$40. […]”<

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Will Falling oil prices cause oil sands shut-downs in Alberta?

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says his province’s oil companies are not facing closures, even as prices approach $70 a barrel.

Source: www.ctvnews.ca

>””We don’t see oilsands operations shutting down,” Prentice told CTV’s Question Period in an interview that aired Sunday. “These are massive capital investments that have been built on a 50-year time horizon.”

Crude oil prices have dramatically fallen since June, when prices reached this year’s high of $107.54 USD per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil. On Friday, WTI oil was about $75.70 per barrel.

[…]

The report said falling oil prices have been caused by large supply, low demand, and strong U.S. dollar. In order for the price to stabilize, “further oil price drops would likely be needed for supply to take a hit — or for demand growth to get a lift,” it said.

Analysts suggest that once prices fall below $72 a barrel, companies will begin to face serious financial consequences, and that some may be forced to close. But Prentice said Albertan oilsands companies are expected to survive the continuing drop in prices, even if they reach that $72 threshold.

Conservative Alberta MP Kevin Sorenson, the minister of state for finance, disagrees, saying falling oil prices could hurt employment numbers.

“We know that if oil prices continue to fall … in the long term that’s going to be very difficult,” Sorenson told Question Period. “It’s not so much that $70 is the plateau, but if it continued to fall, we could expect that there would be job losses.”

Though Prentice was more optimistic about the “resilience” of Albertan companies, he also said falling prices are cause for concern.

“I don’t want to underestimate the importance of this. The low-price environment has a significant implication for all of us,” Prentice said.

The premier said new projects may need to be postponed, and that the Albertan government must be prepared to control spending and budgeting.

According to the Alberta government’s budget website, if oil prices drop even $1 per barrel over 12 months, it can result in more than $200 million less in revenue for the province.

[…]

But Alberta’s provincial government factors all these variables into their economic forecasts.

“People need to be aware it’s a time for fiscal prudence. It’s a time for caution,” Prentice said Sunday. “And it’s a time to control what we can control, which is our public expenditures.” “<

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/falling-oil-prices-won-t-cause-shut-downs-in-alberta-prentice-1.2104374#ixzz3JXBPxTA3

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