UK Activists Target BP Tar Sands Plans

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Statement issued by UK Tar Sands Network


Canada’s Tar Sands have been described as “the most destructive project on earth”. The world’s least favourite oil company – BP – is currently poised to make a move into extracting this filthy source of oil. But it’s not too late to stop this…

Take action today. Tell BP’s brand new boss to get the company’s head out of the Tar Sands and move beyond dirty oil.

What are the Tar Sands?

The Tar Sands are deposits of bitumen, spread out under 140,000 square kilometres of pristine forest in northern Alberta – an area the size of England and Wales combined. They are the second largest oil reserve in the world.

We all know that burning fossil fuels exacerbates climate change, but oil derived from the Tar Sands is even more ecologically destructive than conventional oil.

Because it’s a low-grade type of oil, extracting it and turning it into usable petrol generates up to five times more carbon dioxide than conventional drilling. The amount of carbon locked up in the Tar Sands could be enough to tip us over the edge into climate catastrophe.

The local devastation is equally eye-opening. The strip-mining process requires the complete removal of the top-soil, annihilating the ecosystem and leaving something resembling a moonscape. It creates giant toxic ‘tailings ponds’ of waste which cover 130 square km. Deeper deposits of Tar Sands are melted out of the ground by injecting pressurized steam at high temperatures. This incredibly resource-intensive method uses twice the water and energy as strip-mining – including enough natural gas to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes every day.

Equally appalling is the way indigenous people have been treated by the Canadian government and oil companies. They have not been given the right to say “no”. Now, First Nation communities, such as Fort Chipewyan, are suffering rare forms of cancer which they believe are due to the pollution of their water by the Tar Sands.

How is BP involved?

In 2007, BP took the decision to move into Tar Sands in a big way. In partnership with Husky Energy, a Canadian company, it announced the “Sunrise Project”, an extraction project that could produce 200,000 barrels per day by 2012.

When the financial crisis hit and the price of oil crashed in 2008, BP put the project on hold – stating that they would re-evaluate that decision towards the end of 2010.

The Sunrise Project is, however, not the only Tar Sands venture BP have been exploring. Earlier this year, March 2010, BP sealed a deal with Devon Energy, which involved the US-based organisation running a Tar Sands extraction project on BP’s behalf.

A week later, it emerged that BP had won a $1.2bn bid for Value Creation, a failing Canadian company that has massive Tar Sands reserves.

The final investment decision has not been made on any of these projects. There is still time for BP to reconsider its position.

Tony Hayward, BP’s outgoing CEO, was instrumental in leading BP from its infamous “Beyond Petroleum” position to one that’s been described as “Back to Black”, which also resulted in the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Bob Dudley, BP’s incoming CEO, now has the opportunity to take a strong leadership position on Tar Sands, to stop the investment and stop the destruction.

How to take action

Use the Take Action button below to write to Bob Dudley to ask him to ensure BP does not enter the Tar Sands.