Life-Cycle Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Canadian Oil Sands for Keystone XL Environmental Impact Statement

Categorized Under: Climate



ICF supported the U.S. Department of State (DoS) by reviewing and assessing life-cycle assessments (LCA) comparing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with petroleum products derived from oil sands and conventional crude oils. This LCA was a key measure of the impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, as characterized in the environmental impact statement (EIS). The Keystone XL Pipeline would be used primarily to transport petroleum from Canadian oil sands to refineries in southeast Texas.

ICF's analysis was conducted in response to criticism of the Draft EIS's treatment of GHG emissions, especially the issue of whether the pipeline would result in large increases in GHG emissions due to higher energy intensity of extracting and producing oil sands, compared to reference crude oil. ICF evaluated the well-to-wheels GHG emissions associated with extraction, transport, and refining of Canadian oil sands bitumen and synthetic crude compared to various conventional crude oils using existing studies. The analysis provided a synthesis of the current state of knowledge on the life-cycle GHG implications of producing, refining, and combusting Canadian oil sands based on the expected composition and potential capacity of the Keystone XL pipeline. ICF developed draft text for the EIS cumulative GHG section, a technical appendix providing further detail, and briefing materials for federal agencies.

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Insight Details

Client: U.S. Department of State

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