Canadian crude oil production to increase 3300% by 2100

I’ve read a lot of wild exaggerations in the debate surrounding the oilsands, and specifically around the Keystone XL pipeline, but I think this study from the Center for Global Development takes the cake.  The study, in effect, equates 21% of the effects of climate change due to projected global emissions between now and 2100 to oilsands development.  No, really – here’s the direct quote:

The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board currently estimates the deposit’s potential yield at 1,804 billion barrels of crude oil (AERCB 2011). For this analysis, I assume that the entire deposit will be mined and the extracted crude oil burned by 2100. Using standard conversion factors, full combustion would produce an atmospheric release of 209 gigatons of carbon, which would in turn raise the atmospheric CO2 concentration by 99 parts per million.2 This is 21.3 percent of scenario A2’s projected global increase of 464 ppm by 2100.

So, let’s put some of these numbers into perspective.  In order to extract and burn 1.8 trillion barrels of oil between now and 2100, you’d need average production of 54 million barrels per day.  That’s more than the combined production of OPEC, Russia, Canada, the US, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. It’s 6 times current Saudi Arabian production.  Current Canadian oilsands production is 1.7 million barrels per day. Despite this, somehow the authors feel comfortable assuming, for the sake of illustration, that Canadian production might average 3300% above today’s levels between now and 2100 – a sustained rate of annual production growth of 25.2% per year.

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