Tar sands ‘dirty oil’ could soon be coming to Pembrokeshire, UK

US company Valero admits plans to import highly-polluting oil to UK, locals vow to oppose it

A new report published by the UK Tar Sands Network, Corporate Watch and Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth reveals that US energy company Valero is expecting to bring increasing quantities of oil derived from the controversial tar sands to locations around the UK, including Pembrokeshire, Wales.

According to the report, “Tar Sands coming to Town”, Valero purchased the Pembroke refinery in August 2011 as part of its plans to increase diesel exports to Europe, particularly the UK and Ireland. The company plans for a rapidly growing portion of this diesel to originate from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The Canadian tar sands industry has been criticised for its widespread deforestation, high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, use of huge amounts of water and natural gas, and resulting local toxic pollution that has disproportionate impacts on local indigenous communities. It has been met with wave of resistance in the Canada and US with hundreds arrested in acts of civil disobedience.

Valero is a prominent supporter of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would take tar sands oil from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, a hub for oil exports. The company is also a supporter of the reversal of another pipeline in Canada that would take tar sands east from Alberta to Montreal. Valero operates another refinery in Quebec and has illustrated that it would use this as another export opportunity to the UK and Europe.

The European Fuel Quality Directive, a policy initiative that could discourage the import of fuels from environmentally destructive sources such as the tar sands, is still being debated, having met strong resistance from the oil industry.

The report was launched at a public meeting in Pembrokeshire last night (30th October), where Jill Evans MEP and Emily Coats from the UK Tar Sands Network spoke to concerned residents about the dangers of tar sands expansion. Two county councillors also attended and were keen to raise questions to the county council. A spokesperson from Valero was invited to the meeting but declined to attend.

In response to the report, Valero has emphasized that the company is not involved in the extraction of tar sands, but admits that the petroleum products they import to the UK are likely to include oil derived from the Canadian tar sands.

Emily Coats from UK Tar Sands Network says: “Tar sands extraction is devastating the environment, destroying indigenous people’s lives and livelihoods, and locking us into a future of catastrophic climate change. We need to block off new markets for tar sands oil in order to slow the dangerous expansion of this industry and encourage investment in renewable energy. The EU Fuel Quality Directive is meant to slow the flow of tar sands oil into Europe, so we’d be keen to see how this fits Valero’s plans. We in the UK must say no to tar sands coming to our towns.”

Gordon James from Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth says: “We are strongly opposed to a fuel derived from such an environmentally damaging source being used in Britain, and we certainly don’t want it imported through local ports. It would be a travesty for it to enter Britain through Wales when the Welsh Government is aiming to make sustainable development its central organising principle. In the 1990s we successfully fought a long and hard campaign to prevent ‘Orimulsion’ fuel, which has similar properties to tar sands oil, being imported and burnt at Pembroke power station. Once again, we believe that Pembrokeshire should have nothing to do with such a damaging fuel and we shall campaign vigorously to prevent it happening.”

A summary of the report is available on our Valero page.

The full report is available here. Email us for a hard copy.

A company profile on Valero is available on the Corporate Watch website.

One Response to “Tar sands ‘dirty oil’ could soon be coming to Pembrokeshire, UK”

  1. Jon Preston says:

    I was one of those county councillors and I did raise the question at the next full council meeting. The response was that no approach had been made to PCC. I was also assured that should the situation change or develop then I would be informed. I would appreciate any updates that you may have.

    C/Cllr. Jon Preston

Use the Form Below to Leave a Reply

Your Name: (Required)

Email Address: (Required)


Your Comments: