IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates said oil sands are the largest source of U.S. oil imports. Globally, Canadian oil sands could account for 16 percent of all new oil production by 2030.
Oil sands are viewed as more carbon-intensive to produce than rival grades. IHS CERA said the greenhouse gas intensity of oil sands imported from Canada is less of a threat to the environment than often suspected.
"Oil sands are on par with other sources of U.S. crude, including crudes from Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq and heavy oil production in the U.S.," it said in a report published Tuesday.
The debate over emissions is one of the sticking points over the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline planned from Canada. Shawn Howard, a spokesman for pipeline planner TransCanada, in September said the pipeline would move oil from Alberta to southern U.S. refineries with "almost no direct emissions."