The international oil and gas industry is gathering in Scotland today (10 September 2012) for the “World Heavy Oil Congress”, with the support of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils.

The councils join Shell, Halliburton, Suncor, and the government of Alberta as the major sponsors.

Conference attendees include all large Canadian oil sands companies, as well as UK firms BP and Shell.

Davina Shiell, Interim Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“It’s disgraceful that Aberdeen City Council is inviting the international oil and gas industry to Scotland to plan for further extraction of tar sands.

“Tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada, has already led to serious abuses of indigenous people’s rights and the destruction of huge swathes of natural boreal forests. It’s laughable that the conference agenda speaks of ‘sustainable innovation’ is this field when the damage that tar sands have caused is so well documented.

“Scotland should be leading the way in promoting clean technologies and tackling climate change, not encouraging a technology that produces high emissions and is harmful to both people and the planet.”

Tar sands oil extraction not only creates significantly more greenhouse gas than normal oil production, it is also an environmentally devastating process.

Tar sands are not exclusive to Canada and Alberta is generally viewed as being the test bed for this emerging technology. The First Nation communities are seeking an injunction against new tar sands developments on their land, citing more than 17,000 infringements on their treaty rights, by every major oil company in the world – many of whom will be attending the discussions in Aberdeen.

Currently Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is investing in Canadian tar sands, which have been called the ‘most destructive project on earth’. RBS is 83% owned by the UK tax payer since it was bailed out in 2008. Given this fact the bank should be cleaning up its act and moving towards a sustainable and morally sound investment portfolio.


For media enquiries, please contact:
 Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719

Notes to Editors

1. What is Heavy Oil? Friends of the Earth Scotland briefing:

2. World Heavy Oil Congress

3. Tar sands course at the World Heavy Oil Congress:

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.