Interesting move this one, which could far-reaching implications for both the oil majors and the climate as it could make it easier for people to invest in oil sands.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at putting Alberta’s oil sands reserves on the same footing as conventional crude oil.

The SEC will be reviewing rules – put in place nearly three decades ago when the oil sands were considered uneconomic – that prohibit companies from booking their bitumen resources as “proven crude reserves.”

The move has been welcomed by oil analysts. Cambridge Energy Reseach Associate’s director of research, David Hobbs, said investors should find it easier to value companies with major oil sands reserves and compare their performance against industry competitors.

Mr. Hobbs said sophisticated investors can now figure out an oil company’s reserve base – including proven bitumen reserves – from published information, but the SEC changes would add clarity for all market participants.

The SEC is also examining whether to allow companies to expand their reporting beyond proven reserves – those that can be developed at current prices with current technology – to include a broader range of resource assets.

If oil sands are seen as the same as conventional oil then the climate could be in real trouble.

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