Thick-headed and resolute governments dictate that a Texas company’s pipeline expansion is a matter of Canada’s national interest.
Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley have weaponized the words “national Interest,” implying that accepting a dirty, high-carbon product, extracted with huge amounts of energy, diluted with toxic chemicals, to create a product with uncertain cleanup properties, shipped over land and pumped into tankers plying Canada’s coast is in the “national interest.”
Opposition is unpatriotic.
…Instead of using the “national interest” as a sledgehammer, engage in evidence-based conversations: the actual product (dilbit), the carbon footprint, pollution, job numbers, risks, alternative solutions.
Committing billions of taxpayers’ dollars to ensure the public carries all economic risks of the Trans Mountain project requires a commitment to climate change denial similar to that of Trump’s EPA assassin Scott Pruitt. The political choice is financially unsound.
Positions of Canada and Alberta show absolute ignorance of today’s economic world. An excellent report by award-winning journalist Paul McKay, published by The Energy Mix, makes this clear. Excerpts follow.
The law of unintended consequences may soon cause serious collateral damage to Alberta’s tar sands/oil sands ambitions, and the planned Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipelines.
The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently approved new, much stiffer fuel standards for the 50,000 ocean-going vessels which currently burn low-grade, high-sulphur oil. Known as Bunker C, it is cheap and dirty. An estimated four million barrels per day are burned in all manner of merchant ships, including oil tankers. The related greenhouse gas emissions roughly equal those from all sources in Germany.
But the days of Bunker C are numbered. The fatal bullet will be sulphur-tipped. By 2020, the IMO has mandated that the commercial fleets it represents can only buy and burn ship engine oil with a sulphur content of 0.5%. That is a 700% reduction from the current average. It has been estimated that the 15 largest ocean vessels currently emit as much sulphur annually as all of the world’s cars.
And as that massive shift unfolds, Alberta’s tar sands/oil sands production will probably be in the crosshairs.
…about 75% of current Bunker C production will disappear far sooner than thought possible even a year ago.
Alberta bitumen will likely be a big loser, because it contains on average some 11 times more sulphur than conventional crude, and results in a high ratio of low-grade Bunker C when refined. As of 2020, according to industry reports, U.S. refinery purchases of diluted bitumen for ship fuel will begin slowing to an eventual trickle…
Last year, Marathon sold off its Alberta tar sands/oil sands assets for $2.5 billion, and took a related $5-billion write-down on its balance sheet. On the same day, Royal Dutch Shell sold its tar sands/oil sands assets for a combined cash and share value of $5.8 billion. Earlier, ExxonMobil took a write-down on tar sands/oil sands tracts said to hold 2.8 billion barrels. Other multinationals which have recently abandoned the tar sands/oil sands include the French conglomerate Total S.A., Houston-based ConocoPhillips, and Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil.
Most, like Marathon, have since bought into oil plays and projects which feature low-sulphur, low-carbon, low cost per barrel deposits linked to existing pipeline and refinery systems…
There is no chance an Aframax oil tanker leaving Vancouver with a maximum load of 580,000 barrels of bitumen can compete on price with a supertanker coming from Saudi Arabia to the same Pacific port with two million barrels in a single cargo.
Nor can Alberta bitumen match the quality and price of low-sulphur crude delivered by Saudi supertankers to its new or planned Asian refineries. That means being totally shut out of 1.5 million barrels per day in potential new exports, just to Malaysia and India.
Prospects for Alberta bitumen sales to China are equally bleak, for multiple reason…
Sometimes answers to very puzzling questions, particularly those involving politicians, can stay obscured by hiding in plain sight.
In the case of Alberta’s expansive tar sands/oil sands ambitions, and the related Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipelines, two glaring questions have been missing from all the debates, drama, and demonizations:
Exactly which Asian countries or refiners have signed long-term contracts to purchase more Alberta bitumen for decades to come?
Exactly how much have they committed to pay per barrel delivered?
A thorough scouring of documents filed by Kinder Morgan to win the National Energy Board’s conditional approval for its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion shows these questions were of no interest to the pipeline company. It did not ask them, nor did the NEB. So no specific evidence was supplied by the tar sands/oil sands producers…
This is the uncontained Tommy Lake wildfire, one of many burning in northeast BC during Spring 2018.
At the same time, weather was different in Newfoundland,
From Scientific American:
“A changing climate leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration and timing of extreme weather and climate events, and can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events,” reports the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an independent group of leading climate scientists convened by the United Nations to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.