Aramco is cleanest supplier of oil to China, US research finds

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Saudi Aramco’s Manifa oilfield. The national oil company is China’s cleanest supplier of crude, the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston heard. (Reuters)
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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser speaks at the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston where it was revealed that the national oil company was China’s cleanest crude supplier. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Aramco is cleanest supplier of oil to China, US research finds

HOUSTON: Saudi Aramco supplies the environmentally cleanest oil to China, the biggest energy consumer in the world, according to a recent scientific study.
A research paper by Nature Energy, a publication of Stanford University in the US, compared the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 13 big oil producers that shipped crude oil to China.
The results showed that Saudi crude had the lowest average carbon intensity when processed and used by Chinese industry, meaning that it produced fewer environmentally harmful emissions than other suppliers.
Venezuela sold China the “dirtiest” oil, according to the study, followed by Iran and Iraq, the researchers found.
Oil industry experts said that the findings reflect not only the higher quality of Saudi crude, but also the efficiency of the technology used to get the crude from reservoirs to shipment.
The study was highlighted at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit event in Houston, Texas. Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, said: “Not all crudes are equal, and (the research shows that) Saudi Arabia has among the lowest carbon intensities of crude production in the world.”
The researchers said: “Oilfields in Saudi Arabia showed the lowest average GHG intensities due to highly productive reservoirs (high productivity index), low water production (leads to lower mass lifted and less energy expenditure in separation per unit of oil extracted) and low flaring rates.”
Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s chief technology officer, said that the findings showed the value of the big research and development program that the Saudi national oil company has made one of its main business priorities.
“It is good business, not just good environmental practice. We are the lowest cost producer, and the lowest emissions producer. It will help achieve sustainability through greater energy efficiency,” he said.
China is the biggest oil consumer in the world, but is also a major environmental polluter, mainly because it continues to use local coal as its main energy source.
The CERAWeek event has sought to understand the country’s new attitude toward the environment, dubbed “making China skies blue again” by the government.
Mikael Höök, an energy scientist at Sweden’s Uppsala University, said: “Documenting the emissions and net energy of a crude supply could be essential to meeting national emission and energy security targets.
“The data presented by Nature Energy indicates that the impact of replacing or phasing out just the most carbon-intensive 10 percent of Chinese oil imports could be significant — not just for continuing climate-informed energy strategies but also for geopolitical and energy security reasons, such as avoiding potentially risky suppliers in regions with security concerns.
“Improved understanding of Chinese oil policies and import preferences are, therefore, vital for modeling emission trends on local and global scales with a nuance that can inform policy realistically,” he said.


US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

Updated 23 June 2018
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US unveils new veto threat against WTO rulings

  • US tells WTO appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days
  • Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatens to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars

GENEVA: The United States ramped up its challenge to the global trading system on Friday, telling the World Trade Organization that appeals rulings in trade disputes could be vetoed if they took longer than the allowed 90 days.
The statement by US Ambassador Dennis Shea threatened to erode a key element of trade enforcement at the 23-year-old WTO: binding dispute settlement, which is widely seen as a major bulwark against protectionism.
It came as US President Donald Trump, who has railed against the WTO judges in the past, threatened to levy a 20 percent import tax on European Union cars, the latest in an unprecedented campaign of threats and tariffs to punish US trading partners.
Shea told the WTO’s dispute settlement body that rulings by the WTO’s Appellate Body, effectively the supreme court of world trade, were invalid if they took too long. Rulings would no longer be governed by “reverse consensus,” whereby they are blocked only if all WTO members oppose them.
“The consequence of the Appellate Body choosing to breach (WTO dispute) rules and issue a report after the 90-day deadline would be that this report no longer qualifies as an Appellate Body report for purposes of the exceptional negative consensus adoption procedure,” Shea said, according to a copy of his remarks provided to Reuters.
An official who attended the meeting said other WTO members agreed that the Appellate Body should stick to the rules, but none supported Shea’s view that late rulings could be vetoed, and many expressed concern about his remarks.
Rulings are routinely late because, the WTO says, disputes are abundant and complex. Things have slowed further because Trump is blocking new judicial appointments, increasing the remaining judges’ already bulging workload.
At Friday’s meeting the United States maintained its opposition to the appointment of judges, effectively signalling a veto of one judge hoping for reappointment to the seven-seat bench in September.
Without him, the Appellate Body will only have three judges, the minimum required for every dispute, putting the system at severe risk of breakdown if any of the three judges cannot work on a case for legal or other reasons.
“Left unaddressed, these challenges can cripple, paralyze, or even extinguish the system,” chief judge Ujal Singh Bhatia said.
Sixty-six WTO member states are backing a petition that asks the United States to allow appointments to go ahead. On Friday, US ally Japan endorsed the petition for the first time, meaning that all the major users of the dispute system were united in opposition to Trump.