About this Project
This project aims to shine a spotlight on North America’s refineries. These refineries are among the biggest polluters in the region.
The first phase of this project tracks the flow of tar sands derived refinery feedstock (bitumen blends and synthetic crude oil) into U.S. and Canadian refineries.
Download an analysis of the data here
If you have questions about this project or information about North American refineries you would like to share with us, please email info (at) priceofoil.org
Refinery Report is a project by Oil Change International.
ForestEthics and Global Community Monitor are partners in tracking the flow of tar sands to U.S. and Canadian refineries.
RED rating means this refinery currently receives significant quantities of tar sands crude (greater than 5,000 bpd and/or greater than 10% of the refinery's feedstock).
ORANGE rating means this refinery currently receives smaller quantities of tar sands crude.
YELLOW rating means this refinery:
- uses only negligible volumes of tar sands crude (under 100 bpd), which indicated that the refinery may be planning to receive more in the near future;
- has received some tar sands crude in the past, but not in the current year;
- is not currently using tar sands crude, but has publicly stated its intention to receive oil from the tar sands in the near future (for example, if the Keystone XL pipeline is built);
- is strongly suspected of using tar sands crude according to media reports but there is not enough corroborating evidence available from government or industry sources to confirm.
GREY rating means this refinery is not known or suspected to use any tar sands crude.
Tar Sands Tracking Methodology
Tar sands usage data presented in this website is calculated using the best available information, but may contain errors or omissions as described below. Oil Change International and its partners, contractors and allies are not responsible for any damages that may be caused due to use of this information. All figures should be regarded as best possible estimates and used as an indicator of levels of tar sands processing at refineries and not precise calculations.
Information on tar sands processing at U.S. refineries is based on analysis conducted by the Borealis Centre for Environment and Trade Research using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (U.S. Department of Energy), 2010-2012, cross-referenced with data from the following sources to determine which records refer to tar sands versus conventional crude.
- Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP);
- Enbridge Crude Oil Characteristics;
- U.S. Customs Automated Manifest Systems (AMS) data [for imports by tanker];
- news articles, refinery websites, and other sources.
In 2012 alone, the analysis covered 7,440 individual import declarations.
In cases where EIA data is either not available or not applicable (i.e. Canadian refineries), other public sources were used. These are listed under “Information source(s)” for each refinery.
Note that U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data is not 100% accurate. The data is based on Form EIA-814 (“Monthly Imports Report”), used by the EIA to collect data on U.S. imports of crude oil and other petroleum products. While submission of Form EIA-814 is mandatory for all crude importers, errors are not uncommon. Reporting companies often correct changes in future form submissions and/or the EIA corrects mistakes or omissions and publishes the results in an annual aggregate report. At the time of compiling data for this website, this corrected data was not yet available for 2012 data. The EIA describes this process as:
Ongoing analysis of imports data to the Energy Information Administration reveals that some imports are not correctly reported on Form EIA-814 "Monthly Imports Report". Contact with the companies provides sufficient information for EIA to include these imports in the data even though they have not provided complete reports on Form EIA-814. Estimates are included in aggregate data, but the estimates are not included in the file of Company-Level Imports. Therefore, summation of volumes for PAD Districts 1-5 from the Company-Level Imports will not equal aggregate import totals.
Sometimes it is not possible to determine the exact crude oil stream of a given import record for three reasons:
- errors in the raw data (see above);
- companies often combine multiple imports into a single line, making it difficult to determine the exact crude stream/streams;
- some tar sands-derived bitumen blends are indiscernible from conventional heavy oil streams based on the available EIA data columns and available corroborating data.
In the latter case – where a refinery uses volumes of heavy Canadian crude but where it is unclear from available data if particular crudes are a bitumen blend or conventional heavy oil – we apply annual average percentages of tar sands crude as a percentage of total heavy crude [based on data from Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Crude Oil Forecast, Markets & Pipelines, 2010-present] to estimate the volume of bitumen blend.
Total tar sands usage for each refinery is calculated by adding up respective volumes of raw bitumen, synthetic crude oil (SCO), confirmed bitumen blends and estimated bitumen blends. Note that bitumen blends include up to 30% diluent (usually some form of Natural Gas Liquids or condensate) and therefore these barrels are not only derived from the tar sands.
Tar sands usage percentages are calculated based on estimated gross crude input at each refinery (refinery capacity in barrels per stream day multiplied by operable utilization rates in the respective sub-PADD region for each refinery [U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum & Other Liquids: Refinery Utilization and Capacity]).
For some shipments, the destination refinery is not known at the time of filing Form EIA-814: such shipments have been left out of the analysis (in 2012 for example, these accounted for 8.7% of the total volume).