Canadian oil sands producers pledged to reduce GHG emissions, Alberta introduces strict new climate policies. What has Nigeria done to earn favored status?

Now that President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are buds, he needs to explain to his northern neighbor why the USA is promoting dirty Nigerian oil, but rejected Alberta oil sands crude and the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Photo: integritynigeria.org.

American Energy News ran a story today about U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and a delegation of American businesses in Nigeria to promote trade and investment, particularly in the African country’s oil industry.

You know, the oil industry with some of the dirtiest, most carbon-intense crude on the planet. The stuff Obama says is incompatible with his strategy to decarbonize the world economy and save the global ecosystem from Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Two Nigerian crudes land in the Top 10 list of carbon-intense oil, mostly because Nigeria allows producers to flare gas that is captured and sold in other countries.

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Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, left, and President Barack Obama.

The US used to be a big importer of Nigerian oil, but that trade was effectively killed in 2014 by rising American production from shale fields.

Now, it appears, the Obama Administration is promoting Nigeria’s dirty oil industry, which has been hard hit by the oil price decline engineered by its fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia.

The President sees Africa as a key emerging economic and political player. He’s already busy promoting his Power Africa initiative, his program to help the continent double its access to electricity.

But you can forgive Prime Minister Trudeau from wondering about the double standard. Nigeria is a festering pit of political snakes and lax industry regulation, while Canada has some of the strongest oil industry regulation in the world.

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Partly in response to the Keystone XL rejection and American concerns about the carbon-intensity of oil sands crude, the newly elected Alberta government of Rachel Notley introduced a province-wide carbon tax, a hard emissions cap for oil producers, and committed to transitioning the power generation system away from coal to natural gas and wind.

Key oil and gas industry CEOs stood on stage with Notley when she made the climate change policy announcement in Nov.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Our industry developed the technology to get the oil out of the sand, and we will develop the technology to take carbon out of the barrel. We know we can do more and we will do more,” said Tim McMillan, CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Trudeau committed during Canada’s recent election campaign that climate change would be a high priority for his national government and he intends to work closely with Alberta to reduce oil sands emissions.

If I was Trudeau, my next phone call with Obama would begin with, “WTH, dude?”

Canada is America’s closest ally, biggest trading partner by far, and biggest exporter of energy to the US (45 per cent of imported oil in 2015, according to the US Energy Information Administration).

What has Nigeria done for America lately?