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Tar sands royalties and emissions under-estimated

The Financial Post reports this morning that, “Alberta’s auditor general (in his report released on Friday) has found major problems with Alberta Energy’s oilpatch royalty calculations that could cost Albertans hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“Fred Dunn says the department has allowed oil sands giants Suncor and Syncrude to pay royalties based on a bitumen price that is half of what all other producers pay. He says that, if the situation is not corrected, it could cost taxpayers $100-million.”
“He says that, over the last three years, the department has made calculations that were off by $60-million to $237-million.”

“The auditor general also had problems with Alberta Environment’s monitoring and calculations of greenhouse gases, saying the department allows emitters to use less accurate measurement methods, provided they can show the uncertainty of the calculation would not materially affect the overall accuracy of the emissions. He says an allowable 5% margin of error could amount to as much as $130-million.”

In another Financial Post story today, it is reported that “Greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta’s oilsands operations are worse than reported because oil companies and governments do not include emissions from forests destroyed in the process of developing mines, says a study released Friday.”

“Global Forest Watch Canada (with the support of Greenpeace and others) said the study shows that under full development, the annual average release of carbon from the removal of ecosystems would be 8.7 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide. Current emissions, the release says, are about 36 mega tonnes a year.”

The full news stories can be read at http://www.financialpost.com/story.html?id=2060831 and http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/Oilsands+greenhouse+emissions+underestimated/2058998/story.html.