Jump menu

Main content |  back to top

Fuels come from a variety of feedstocks and are produced, distributed and used in different ways. This means the total CO2 emissions over their life cycle – known as well-to-wheels – varies. Conventional heavier crudes, for example, are harder to extract than lighter ones. This requires extra energy that results in more emissions. Oil from oil sands produces around 4-18% more CO2 emissions compared to the average barrel of conventional crude consumed in the US. Our calculations indicate that Athabasca Oil Sands Project-produced heavy oil is at the lower end of that range.

Life cycle CO2 emissions from different crudes

Life cycle CO2 emissions from different crudes

Energy efficiency

Fuel derived from oil sands is 5-15% more GHG intensive than fuel derived from conventional oil.

Fuel derived from oil sands is 5-15% more GHG intensive than fuel derived from conventional oil.

On a well-to-wheels basis, fuel derived from oil sands is 4-18% more GHG intensive than fuel derived from conventional oil.

At our oil sands project in Canada we have taken measures to save energy, for example by installing a co-generation plant at the Muskeg River Mine. The plant recycles energy by capturing waste heat from electricity production and emits less than half the CO2 per unit of electricity than using the local power grid.

Carbon capture and storage

We are leading a project to capture CO2 emissions from our Scotford Upgrader processing plant and store them underground. The upgrader converts the heavy oil from the oil sands into lighter crudes. Starting in 2015 our project, called Quest, will capture over one million tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the road.

In September 2012, Shell and AOSP partners announced their decision to invest in Quest. The governments of Alberta and Canada will provide CDN $865 million to support the project, over the construction and first 10 years of operation and dependent on Shell achieving agreed performance targets.

You might also be interested in: