EU vote on tar sands oil delayed until 2013

Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:26am EDT
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By Barbara Lewis

HORSENS, Denmark (Reuters) - The European Commission has decided to carry out a full study into the impact of a proposed fuel quality law on business and markets, an EU official said, delaying until next year any ruling on oil from tar sands after intense lobbying by Canada.

Ministers had been expected to vote on the law in June, in line with EU efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said EU member states would not be asked to decide before early 2013 on the scheme, part of the EU's Fuel Quality Directive, which would rank tar sands oil as more polluting than other fuels.

Canada, which has opposed the ranking proposal, sits on the world's third-largest crude reserves after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The vast majority of Canada's oil is in the form of unconventional crude including tar sands.

A Commission impact assessment will analyze the consequences on stakeholders such as major oil firms Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote), Total (TOTF.PA: Quote) and BP (BP.L: Quote) and refineries.

"The proposal will not be submitted to the (European) Council before early 2013," the EU source said, referring to the body that brings together EU member governments.

"We have decided to have an impact assessment before submitting the proposal to the Council," said the source.