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Oil sands firms think carbon price will become 'widespread': report

At least seven major energy companies in Canada support a price on the carbon dioxide they currently emit into the atmosphere for free, according to a new report from Sustainable Prosperity.

In fact, those companies already factor a range of carbon prices into their strategic planning, a practice known as "shadow carbon pricing."

For BP, Shell, Suncor, Statoil, Devon, Cenovus, Penn West, Enbridge, Ontario Power Generation, and SaskPower, the report read, "there is an expectation that carbon pricing will become more widespread."

"On that basis," it read, "the companies that use a [shadow carbon price] view it as prudent risk management practice, particularly for long-term capital intensive projects."

As a result, the report added, "it may be fair to assume that the creation of a legislated carbon price at the national level would lead to minimal disruption in the energy sector."

Yet the federal Conservative government has repeatedly vilified any suggestion that it implement a price on Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, a disparity first noted by The Tyee Solutions Society last June.

(That story was recently covered as well by Bloomberg).

Sustainable Prosperity found that some energy companies believe their operations could survive a carbon price as high as $68 per tonne, more than double the price B.C. imposes on emitters.

"The interview results," the report read, "suggest that the use of a shadow carbon price is widespread in the Canadian energy sector, at least among larger oil and gas producers."

However, even this higher price is below what may "be necessary by 2020 and beyond to successfully shift Canada to a lower GHG emissions pathway under various policy scenarios," the report read.

Geoff Dembicki reports for The Tyee.

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