EU's oilsands vote hits snag

An oilfield worker walks past the Statoil oil sands facility near Conklin, Alberta, November 3, 2011.

Credits: REUTERS/Todd Korol


OTTAWA - A European Union vote that would've placed an international warning label on Canada's oilsands has been halted - for now.

Technical experts on a regulatory committee in Brussels couldn't muster up enough votes to change Europe's fuel quality directive to classify oilsands crude as 22% "dirtier" than regular crude oil.

There were 89 votes in favour of changing the directive, with 128 against and 128 abstentions.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver welcomed the result.

"We remain strongly opposed to Canadian oilsands crude being unfairly discriminated against without scientific justification," Oliver said in a statement.

"Independent studies have shown the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of oilsands crude are similar to, or in some cases lower than, several crude oils currently imported and used daily in the EU."

The proposal could now be referred to EU ministers, who would then have to pass along the anti-oilsands measure to the European parliament.

That worries Kathryn Marshall of

"If there's any oil that Europe should be worried about, it's all the bloody conflict oil entering its borders from despotic regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran," she said in a statement.

Oilsands investors feared the classification of oilsands crude as "dirtier" than conventional oil would place an international stigma on the product and prevent future exports to Europe.

- with files from Reuters



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