In recent years, BP’s been working hard to rebrand itself as a fuel company going ‘Beyond Petroleum’. But following the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the only thing left that’s green about this huge corporation is its famous logo.

BP’s developing engagement with the Canadian tar sands stands to be its most destructive and irresponsible project yet. In 2007 the company announced its ‘Sunrise Project’, an extraction project in partnership with Canadian company Husky Energy that could produce 200,000 barrels per day.

Sunrise will use so-called SAG-D (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage), where water is superheated into steam with vast amounts of natural gas, then injected deep into the earth to “melt” the oil from the sand and clay.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, leading to a crash in oil prices, BP put the project on hold. In December 2010 however, BP formalised its intention to go ahead with the project, investing £1.6 billion in the ‘development phase’. But it will be another four years before the oil flows – so there’s still some time to stop it.

What Can We Do?

A huge number of concerned individuals and groups are contributing to a global movement against the tar sands in general and the Sunrise Project in particular. Appropriately, the most prominent resistance to the project has come from the affected First Nations communities, but all sorts of other groups are doing their bit, including grassroots movements who reject claims that the Tar Sands can be ‘green’ and instead seek Climate Justice. The UK has a vital role to play in this international struggle – partly by developing understanding and awareness of the very real dangers relating to climate change, but especially by pressuring BP to drop its ‘Sunrise Project’. Not only would success avert this exceptionally destructive project, it would send shockwaves through the entire oil industry and investment community. With luck, it might even mark the beginning of the end of our dependency on this particularly filthy source of energy.