Apr 20 2007

Slick oil plans for Westfjords exposed as lying greenwash!

oil spill bird

As if the situation in Iceland was not ‘heavy’ enough these days, a profiteering ambassador (Olafur Egilsson) has come forth with plans to endanger the environment of the Icelandic Westfjords with a giant oil refinery. Not only is this incongruous in view of the recent announcement by the local authorities in the Westfjords that the area is to stay clean of all heavy industry but also because the perpetrators of this project are trying to sell it as “green” “high tech” industry, cunningly trying to avoid the ugly name heavy industry has with the majority of Icelanders.

There is nothing new about this sort of attempts of greenwash by the enemies of Icelandic nature, but this time INCA has exposed their lies.

In a statement released by INCA (Icelandic Nature Conservation Association) they have pointed out the inaccuracies in Egilsson’s and the Mayor of Isafjordur Halldorsson’s arguments in favor of the oil refinery. Egilsson, trying to sell his personally lucrative heavy liquid idea to the nation on a TV show, said that the pollution from oil refineries was only 1/100 compared with that from aluminium smelting and Halldorsson said that it was only 1/10 of the pollution from smelters.

It has been stated that the oil production of the refinery would be 150.000 barrels a day. Calculating that in 365 days this will make 8,5 million barrels in a year. According to a Swedish standard it is estimated that the production of one million tonnes of oil will produce 120.000 tonnes of CO2. According to this the release of carbon dioxide by an oil refinery in the Westfjords, with the production capacity of 8,5 million tonnes, would be well over one million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or 1.020.000 tonnes.

In the year of 1990, the year of reference of the Kyoto protocol, the release of greenhouse gases in Iceland was 3.355.453 tonnes. Exceeding the release of greenhouse gases by over one million tons equals a 30% increase in the release of greenhouse gases in Iceland compared with that of 1990.

The Kyoto protocol allowed Iceland to increase its release of greenhouse gases by 10% in the years of 2008-2012, but the spokespeople of the oil refinery claim it will be operational within that period.

An oil refinery would not fit in with the Icelandic accord which allows aluminum smelting companies in Iceland an exemption for 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the period of 2008-2012.

After 2012 it is clear that all the industrial nations will have to cut the release of greenhouse gases drasticaly, compared with that of 1990, if they are going to prevent the impending disaster of climate change. Having taken part in the international negotaions about the next step of the Kyoto protocol the Icelandic authorities are bound by this.

It is an unscrupulous act to swing a carrot in the form of 500 new jobs for people in the Westfjords when the operation would exceed the obligations of Iceland according to the Kyoto protocol. The Icelandic authorities are also very slack in that they seem neither to be aware of the obligations they have commited themselves to nor have they formed any policy that will mean that the release of greenhouse gases will be reduced by 50%-75% before 2050.

Iceland Review

Oil refinery to be built in Iceland�s Westfjords?

Icelandic and Russian entrepreneurs are working on plans to construct an oil refinery in Iceland�s Westfjords. The station could be built in four years and provide jobs for over 500 people.

According to RÚV, the plans are being worked on by the Icelandic company Íslenskur hátaekniidnadur (�Icelandic Hi-Tech Industry�), owned by Ólafur Egilsson and Hilmar F. Foss, and the Russian company Katamag-Nafta, the daughter company of The Geostream Services Group, a Russian high-tech service company cooperating with LUKOIL.

The idea is for the station to be able to produce 150,000 barrels a day and to employ 500 to 700 people. One fifth of the employees would require a university degree.

Raphael Baron at Katamag-Nafta said in an interview with RÚV that the Westfjords were the perfect location for an oil refinery.

�Iceland happens to be in the middle between Europe and the United States. The oil shipping routes already go very close to Iceland; all they need to do is make a left turn to come to Iceland to have the oil refined and add tremendous value to it,� Baron said.

Baron pointed out that there is enough energy in Iceland to power such an operation.

The process of refining oil causes pollution, but the organizers of the project claim that the fuel produced is cleaner than the fuel which is imported to Iceland, so once Iceland�s car and ship fleet would use the fuel produced in the oil refinery, the total pollution in Iceland would be reduced.

Halldór Halldórsson, mayor of the Westfjords� capital Ísafjördur, told RÚV he is still pondering on the idea of an oil refinery, but that likes the idea very much, especially regarding the jobs that would be created.

But Halldórsson said the idea would only be accepted if it would coincide with the Westfjords� policy of not embarking on any heavy industry projects and said it was important for the issue to be discussed in detail.

�According to what they [the organizers of the project] are saying the pollution would be circa one tenth of the pollution an aluminum smelter would produce and that the electricity usage is only a fraction of what they [the smelters] are using,� Halldórsson said.

Therefore, the oil refinery would not be a heavy industry project, Halldórsson concluded.

�We consider this a hi-tech industry. Heavy industry is, according to dictionaries, defined as something that requires a lot of energy. [�] The main issue of dispute regarding heavy industry are the dams and the damage to the highland,� said Ólafur Egilsson in an interview with RÚV.

�We don�t need anything like that because the refinery only requires 15 megawatts of energy,� Egilsson stated.

�The financing would be Russian, American and partly Icelandic,� Egilsson said. �What would happen next, after the Westfjordians have reached a decision, is to begin an efficiency evaluation and get all the facts to the table.�