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Petroleum News: Shell Canada leader touts emissions trading

Shell Canada leader touts emissions trading
While the Canadian government is pulling back from the Kyoto Protocol to ponder its next move, one petroleum industry leader is growing tired of the uncertainty.

Shell Canada Chief Executive Officer Clive Mather is pressing for industry and government to join forces and accept the climate change treaty.

In two speeches within a week, Mather has called for action on several fronts.

“If we waited for everyone to sign up (to Kyoto), frankly, it would be too late,” he told a group of business leaders in Toronto on May 5.

A week earlier, at Shell Canada’s annual meeting, Mather proposed a domestic greenhouse gas emissions trading market along with construction of “public infrastructure” to collect carbon dioxide from sources such as refineries and use it in enhanced oil recovery projects.

“Especially here in Canada, we must encourage bold initiatives which lever new technologies,” he said, arguing technology will play a critical role in bridging the gap between traditional hydrocarbon supplies and new fuels that “we can expect to become mainstream over the next half century.”

Conceding he has a “personal passion” for the issue of climate change, Mather has been quietly campaigning for domestic emissions trading that would allow companies to sell credits for eliminating greenhouse gases.

There would be rewards for those who exceeded their reduction targets, or developed technologies to produce cleaner energy.

Mather, admitting Kyoto has its limitations, said he would also welcome any new initiatives that would enable the United States and China to play leading roles in the search for solutions.

He also said Shell Canada is prepared to lead by example, noting the company’s own operations are close to meeting the Kyoto target to lower their 1990 emissions by 6 percent.

Penn West Energy Trust Chief Executive Officer Bill Andrew has also urged the Alberta and Canadian governments to support carbon dioxide sequestration for enhanced oil recovery.

However, Mather said storing carbon dioxide does not “deliver commercial returns” and needs government financial help as part of a collective effort to make Canada a “technology showcase to the world.”

—Gary Park

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