SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

April 14, 2015 10:30 ET

New Oil-Climate Index compares crude oils

Schulich researcher creates open-source refinery model to estimate emissions

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - April 14, 2015) - Not all oils are created equal. That's the message from Schulich School of Engineering researcher Joule Bergerson. She contributed to the first Oil-Climate Index, which compares various crude oils' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the lifecycle, from point of extraction to the consumer.

According to the report, Know Your Oil: Creating a Global Oil-Climate Index by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Stanford University, and the University of Calgary, there are significant differences in GHG emissions between the 30 test oils measured. 

"We chose crude oils from all over the world, inputting publicly available data into our model and we found that there is an over 80 per cent difference between the highest and the lowest on a per barrel basis," said Bergerson, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and the Centre for Environmental Engineering Research and Education.

One of the reasons Bergerson embarked on this project is to understand the environmental impacts or costs of these crude oils. "The index allows us to isolate where the differences in emissions are and what targeted changes to make emissions that will give the biggest bang for your buck," she said.

This report is about creating a dialogue and making more informed decisions for industry, research and policymakers.

"One of the discoveries in gathering this data was that the Alberta oil sands industry is one of the most transparent about its GHG emissions and the qualities of its crude oils," says Bergerson. "We need more consistent and targeted information. While the oil sands companies and Alberta already provide most of what is needed, other jurisdictions need to be engaged. That way we can be more effective at managing crude oil pathways and reducing the impact to the climate globally."

According to Bergerson, the research team's analysis is only just beginning. "We want people to share their data and knowledge, adding to our understanding. We have made the Petroleum Refinery Life Cycle Inventory Model (PRELIM) open source and available to the public. The model can estimate the GHG emissions associated with processing a variety of crude oils within a range of configurations in a refinery."

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.' 

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    Schulich School of Engineering 
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