The world will not wait for Canada’s oil

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Written by: Sherry Cooper, The Globe and Mail on August 06, 2013

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Building oil pipelines to bring Canadian product to market is in many ways a no-brainer.

Take for example the proposed Northern Gateway from Alberta to the West Coast and the Energy East proposal from Alberta to the East Coast.

The construction of these projects is a no-brainer because today, more than ever before, we need Canadian oil sands product to reach tidewater and international markets.

According to a recent bank report, Canadians lost $25-billion in oil revenue in 2012 due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure and continuing bottlenecks that prevent our oil from getting to the highest-paying markets.

We’ll lose another $20-billion this year and $15-billion every year going forward without new pipeline construction.

This is money that would benefit Canadians from coast to coast, helping to fund our health, education and social programs.

The time when we could depend on the United States as our sole oil and gas customer is long gone. In 2011, for the first time in more than 60 years, the US exported more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than it imported.

Thanks to the shale revolution, the United States is set to become the world’s largest oil producer – overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia – just four years from now according to the International Energy Agency.

Given the U.S. is awash in oil and gas and given the country remains Canada’s only customer, Western Canadian oil sold earlier this year for a discount of as much as $43 a barrel compared to the oil known as West Texas Intermediate. And Canadian oil was discounted even further compared to the North Sea oil known as Brent. While those differentials have since narrowed, Canadian oil still trades at a significant discount.

Even more worrisome is the prediction by experts that in the foreseeable future the US won’t need Canadian oil at all. Currently, the U.S. has been able to reduce its reliance on oil from unfriendly countries such as Venezuela by replacing it with increased imports from Canada. But as U.S. oil production continues to grow rapidly, its imports of Canadian oil will inevitably decline.

Canada’s need to diversify its oil markets, then, has never been clearer. While U.S. demand for foreign oil declines, strong demand remains in emerging markets such as China and India.

So why the controversy over pipelines? Surely we must consider environmental impacts and ensure those impacts are managed and mitigated to the greatest extent possible. Proposed projects like Northern Gateway have committed to doing just that.

But pipelines are not a new, untested technology. Canadians have been building pipelines since 1853, and we’ve become leaders in innovative and safe pipeline design.

Pipelines remain the safest means of transporting large volumes of oil and gas overland.

Today’s pipelines use the latest technology, including 24/7 computerized monitoring, aerial patrols, x-ray and ultrasonic testing of welds, durable coating systems, increased pipe wall thickness and properly spaced safety control valves – just to name a few of the advances.

I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is that we start moving ahead with pipeline projects that run east to west and west to east. And let’s not consider the Energy East pipeline as a replacement for Northern Gateway or vice versa – true market diversification means we need both.

Yes, there are risks with moving forward, as there are with any energy development.

But I believe the risks of not doing so are far greater. Indeed, if we fail to build new pipeline infrastructure, we are risking the future prosperity of this country.

Norway made the right decision in developing its offshore oil and gas reserves. It now enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and its health, social and educational programs are second to none.

Closer to home, Newfoundland has developed its offshore oil and gas sector, becoming a “have” province for the first time in history and enriching its citizens and Canada as a whole.

Endlessly debating the pros and cons of pipeline development will get us nowhere.

The world will not wait for Canadian oil. If we can’t deliver the goods, markets will find other suppliers, including growing shale oil and gas deposits in the United States.

Determining what share of the windfall each province receives is a detail that can be worked out at the negotiating table – but not having inter-provincial agreements now is no reason to delay the decision-making process.

So let’s commit to new, safe and environmentally-sound pipeline infrastructure that runs east to west and west to east and will get our oil to market responsibly – and let’s do it now.

Because whether you’re from B.C., Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick or another province, we’re all Canadians, and we’ll all benefit when our oil can be sold on the international market for a fair price.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/the-world-will-not-wait-for-canadas-oil/article13608302/

Sherry Cooper is financial advisor to MDC Partners Inc. and former executive vice-president and chief economist at Bank of Montreal.

Canada can sell oil and be green at the same time

Opinion: Canada can sell oil and be green at the same time

By Robert Deane, www.thespec.com, July 27, 2013

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My mother used to tell me only to worry about the things I could change. There are things in this world which are going to change whether I approve, disapprove; or, as is often the case, I have no opinion at all.

Recently, I was discussing the oil industry with a group of students and we collectively concluded that oil was probably going to be a centrepiece of our economic lives for the foreseeable future, regardless of our personal dispositions.

The nature of worldwide demand is unlikely to change. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot benefit from this future and, hopefully, maximize the opportunities that will undoubtedly exist.

As the world reaches, as many analysts believe, peak oil, we are driven to extract it in places that are increasingly more dangerous, difficult and expensive. Frequently, all of these conditions are present. This places an extra burden on all of us, as caretakers of this planet, to be diligent in our husbandry of this valuable resource.

This is why I feel strongly that this country, our country, should seek every opportunity to take advantage of the natural gifts we have been given, but in a responsible way. I have been following the developments of one of these opportunities, the Northern Gateway pipeline, for some time.

I feel this is one opportunity we can take advantage of; and control, to our collective advantage. If built, Northern Gateway will bestow economic benefits to all Canadians with manageable, minimal risk to the lands it will cross.

It will enable us to sell oil to the world rather than to one customer. It will provide us with leverage at the bargaining table, thousands of temporary and permanent jobs, and a lasting infrastructure we can exploit for decades.

Canada is a trading nation. Our lifestyle, which is the envy of many in the world, was forged by opening our borders to ideas, people and industry. By trading our commodities, value-added products and ideas with our trading partners, we created an economy which belies our small numbers.

The Northern Gateway Project is one of those ideas that will open our fuel market to Asia, the world’s largest potential customer and a market that Canadian businesspeople and their politicians are anxious to develop.

We have a chance to participate in this burgeoning eastern economy or to sit on the sidelines and watch others reap the substantial benefits. I would therefore exhort all stakeholders; government (federal and provincial), businesspeople across the country, opinion leaders, reasonable environmental stakeholders and native communities, to embrace this project and let their voices be heard.

This project is in the gestational stage and affords ample opportunity for all interested parties to have an impact on the eventual outcome. Some may say that their disapproval of such a project stems from a desire to see development of alternate sustainable energy choices such as wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal.

Like many, I look forward to the day when we can operate this planet relying only on “green” energy. However, as long as we are reliant on fossil fuels it is in our continuing interest to do so in a responsible and financially beneficial manner.

The ideas, funds and technology arising from development of our current resources will, if we are wise, finance the development of future energy choices. A long term strategic approach to our national energy future is the best guarantee of economic stability for all of us.

I believe that the Northern Gateway is an essential component of this strategic future. It is indeed, something we can control for our mutual and enduring benefit.

 

Professor Robert Deane teaches Business at King’s University College, Western University.

http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/3911519-canada-can-sell-oil-and-be-green-at-the-same-time/

Counterpoint: Proposed pipeline a barrier or a benefit?

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: Challenged to get a ‘Yes’ in the West 

By Gerry Martin, Special to The Vancouver Sun July 3, 2013

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Bernie Gairdner

Bernie Gairdner works in Fort Nelson First Nation as a consultant with the oil and gas industry. Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has become a litmus test for B.C.’s new relationship with First Nations communities.

It’s a key challenge many of us are working on. And while the solution isn’t simple, at least part of the answer seems to be in starting some conversations about how we want our economy and our communities to look.

By now, many political analysts have said the recent B.C. election gave Premier Christy Clark a clear mandate for economic growth and the jobs and stronger communities that come with it. And yet, moving forward with large projects in B.C. continues to look daunting to companies that have to justify their investments to ever-watchful shareholders.

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project is a perfect example. From increased construction and maintenance jobs, to added financial and technical services, to increased consumer spending, the benefits of building a pipeline to the West Coast and shipping our energy products to Asian markets are clear.

Who will gain? Most everyone gains, from the companies involved, to their shareholders and pension funds, to local and provincial governments in B.C., Alberta and across the entire country. Through capacity-building and access to economic opportunities, First Nations will benefit. In fact, if you accept that prosperity has to be created before it can be shared, then the potential economic and social benefits of a project like this are self-evident.

So, is there a problem? Yes. In a word, the problem is risk. Some British Columbians value their landscape so much that they can’t imagine allowing a pipeline to be built across it. But as more people learn of the 60 years of safe pipelining experience from Alberta to the B.C. coast, that objection is blunted.

But it doesn’t disappear. To make matters worse, many have expressed genuine concern over the recent and notable exception to Enbridge’s safety record — the pipeline breech at Marshall, Michigan, where in 2010 an estimated 843,444 gallons leaked, some of which reached the Kalamazoo River.

Thinking that a reasonable way to advance my own understanding of the project and the company would be to participate in discussions with local residents who were most affected, I visited the spill site with an Enbridge-sponsored delegation of British Columbians recently. We met with officials from the local health authority, municipal administrators, wildlife experts, company officials and just plain folks.

I want to be very clear — nobody should minimize the very serious situation that occurred in Marshall when the pipeline breeched.

But I can tell you with confidence that we heard from agencies, academics and local onlookers. And in every case, we were told the company performed in an exemplary way in the spill’s aftermath, exceeded expectations and worked tirelessly with others as it brought the river back to health.

Still, while many of us were impressed with the commitment shown by Enbridge in addressing the spill head-on, the fact is we have an opportunity to push even harder so that all pipelines including Northern Gateway are built to the highest environmental and safety standards imaginable.

In other words, while Enbridge performed well in reacting to the Michigan situation, we want to prevent a similar spill from occurring in B.C. And why not teach others around the world about building and operating pipelines safely? We have the knowledge, technology and ability to set a world-class standard for pipeline operation and spill prevention.

Will we satisfy the segment of the population that opposes development by saying that no risk is ever acceptable? Clearly we won’t. But we certainly should talk about these projects with a view to real exchanges of information.

To put it in some perspective, I’m a longtime Terrace resident and businessman and, like many of my neighbours, I genuinely love our beautiful outdoor spaces in this part of the world. But I also recognize that society — ours as well as others around the world — still requires oil to power so much of its industry, its health care, its transportation and indeed its very way of life. In fact, a great deal of our standard of living is derived from revenues from the oil and gas industry.

So there’s a need for some honest, open discussion. Projects such as Northern Gateway are so important to communities, to provinces, to the nation and to the government programs we all rely on. I hope people continue engaging in the discussion of projects like Northern Gateway, and continue urging it be built and operated right. Because that’s how we’ll get to “Yes.”

Terrace resident Gerry Martin has been chairman of the B.C. Progress Board, a member of the Premier’s Technology Council, a governor and chairman of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and a director of the University of Northern BC Foundation. Most recently he’s served as a member of the B.C. Agenda for Shared Prosperity, a joint initiative of the B.C. Business Council and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Point: Safe passage for tankers?

safe passage for tankers

Opinion: Claims that B.C. waters will become unsafe if oil and gas projects are OK’d are groundless

By Stephen Brown, Special to The Vancouver Sun June 18, 2013

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I’ve followed the evolution of the marine industry for a lifetime, both as a professional mariner and in shoreside vessel management, so I’ve had a front-row seat to the enormous progress in safety and environmental protection that the industry has achieved since the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska in 1989.

The Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia works closely with legislators, our members, and those of other national and international associations to achieve this continuous and enviable level of improvement.

The debate surrounding the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and other B.C. energy projects provides the marine industry with an opportunity to explain to our fellow British Columbians its leading role in ensuring the safe transportation of Canada’s energy resources.

The reality is that there have been dramatic safety improvements in tanker construction and operating practices over the past 30 years resulting in a reduction in major spills from tankers. There were 580 in the 1970s, declining to zero in 2012, even as the total number of tankers operating worldwide has significantly increased.

This improvement is the result of a number of factors, including the use of double-hull construction which is now mandatory under International Maritime Organization rules and the laws of most countries, including Canada. It is also the result of the development of precision navigational tools and huge investments in the training of tanker officers.

It has been suggested that tankers face more navigational challenges and weather conditions in B.C. than in many other waterways. While this may serve to confuse the average landlubber, it is categorically wrong.

Even close to home, we have very comparable weather conditions to those found on the East Coast of Canada, which has been handling large tankers for many years without incident.

Detailed simulation undertaken by B.C. Coast Pilots, who have for many years conducted vessels through the Douglas Channel through which tankers for the Northern Gateway project will navigate, has determined that large tankers can safely transit the channel without tugs. Yet as an additional safety measure, escort tugs will be used for the entire passage. When a tanker is loaded, one tug will be tethered to enhance speed of response should that ever be needed.

In the view of the marine industry, the Douglas Channel, which is 1,575 metres across at its narrowest point, is safe for tanker transit. By contrast, the Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, has around 50,000 vessel transits a year (including 8,000 tankers) through a winding passage that is 698 metres across at its narrowest point.

Similarly, the Dover Straits handles over 200,000 vessels per year and the Malacca Straits, between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, sees 64,000 ship transits per year, including 23,000 tankers. Meanwhile, the port of Singapore handles around 128,000 vessels a year compared to just over 3,000 in Vancouver.

While no waterway in the world has been without incident, the direction toward far fewer accidents is clear.

Given B.C. waters are no more treacherous than anywhere else and carry far fewer vessels, the suggestion that B.C.’s coastal waters will become unsafe if the major oil and gas projects now under consideration are approved is without foundation.

However, B.C. is different from other marine jurisdictions in one important respect in that we have the largest single compulsory pilotage area in the world.

More than 100 highly skilled and experienced coastal pilots conduct ships safely through our local waters every day with an exemplary record of safety.

No transportation sector is entirely free of risk. The key in all cases is to mitigate and manage the identified risks and this we do in the marine sector, every day, with every tool at our disposal. However, 90 per cent of everything that moves in world trade does so by sea and so everyone on Earth is a stakeholder in ensuring success.

In the case of Northern Gateway and the Kinder Morgan projects, we believe the proposed approach will mitigate risk and allow the safe transportation of Canadian oil across our waterways to important markets around the world.

Capt. Stephen Brown is president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia. The chamber’s new website, safeshippingbc.caprovides detailed information on the safety and environmental performance of B.C.’s marine industry.

 

Quesnel needs oil as much as anywhere else

quesnel needs oil

By Colin Kinsley, Quesnel Cariboo Observer Friday, June 7, 2013 Continue reading

Editor:

As discussion and citizen engagement continue over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, people are taking a step back and assessing the project in a broader, societal context. I for one think that’s a positive thing.

In 2010, according to the International Energy Agency, 81 per cent of the world’s primary energy consumption came from fossil fuels

And the vast majority of our transportation runs on fossil fuels, whether it’s moving people or goods locally or around the world.

Some may advocate simply cutting off the fossil fuel supply overnight (no new pipelines, no tankers, no

oilsands, no fracking). One hopes we’ll be able

to develop technologies that will allow us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels – but it will take decades for this to happen.

Cutting off fossil fuels now would only result in extreme human hardship given the lack of alternatives.

The fact is we need oil in Quesnel just as much as everywhere else – and we’ll continue to need it for a long time into the future.

In the meantime, the oil has to be moved – safely and securely without a doubt – from where it has been lying for millions of years to where the market demands it.

For that, there are only

a limited number of alternatives: oil can be run through a pipeline, or shipped on rail cars, or loaded onto tanker trucks.

But compared to other modes of transport, pipelines have proven to be the safest means of transporting fuels.

It’s unfortunate that some opponents simply discount the benefits of the oilsands and pipelines to British Columbia and the country, while exaggerating the risks.

But you need to know that Northern Gateway will be one of the largest investments of private capital in B.C. history and will bring huge economic benefits to Quesnel and this province as a whole – including long-term jobs, community development

and projected tax revenues of $1.2 billion.

As a former mayor of Prince George, I can state clearly that B.C.’s north and the northwest coast regions have a long history of industrial development including forestry, mining, electrical transmission and even other pipeline developments.

In fact, much development has occurred through history along the proposed Northern Gateway right-of-way, which follows a route designed to minimize impacts on the area by taking advantage of already disturbed tracts of land.

These already- disturbed tracts include forest service roads,

harvested areas, electrical transmission routes and vehicle access routes.

In truth, very few segments of the proposed pipeline will require new rights-of-way through undisturbed forest.

And the Douglas Channel is no stranger to industrial marine traffic – including tankers carrying petrochemicals.

It has a decades- long history as a safe, deepwater entrance to a port providing strategic advantages for accessing Asian markets.

We should all work together to improve industry’s environmental performance.

We should accept the challenge to reduce our personal reliance on fossil fuels while we recognize

the world will continue to need oil – and pipelines – for the foreseeable future.

Working together with B.C. communities, demanding the best environmental performance possible and understanding the world’s need for oil for everything from transportation to heating, cooking, manufacturing and healthcare, are all reasonable ways to move this province toward a brighter future for all British Columbians.

Colin Kinsley is the former mayor of Prince George and current Chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, a grassroots coalition in support of the regulatory review process assessing Northern Gateway.

Northern Gateway is the CP Railway of this Century

northern gateway

Ken Sands, The Prince George Citizen May 27, 2013
I’ve been involved in the fuel distribution business in Northern BC for decades, and over that time I’ve done a lot of thinking about how an industry can be a good corporate citizen in a region, a province or a country. Continue reading

With the recent and continuing deluge of commentary in the media about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, I hope my fellow British Columbians will focus on where this proposal really fits in terms of the environment, of my community of Prince George, and of the economic well-being of BC and CanadaWhile I don’t have a crystal ball at my disposal, experience helps me make a few pretty good guesses at how the future might unfold.

Based on today’s situation in which we lose billions of dollars annually because our Canadian crude oil is locked into a single US export market, the pipeline would be an effective way to unlock that artificially low price. Canada would clearly benefit.

When North Dakota crude comes onto the market, will the US even need our supply? Not according to market experts who predict virtual US energy self-sufficiency in a little more than two decades. It seems fairly plain the US has no intention of giving Canada its fair price for crude oil as long as the US remains our only export market.

How do people think we’re going to pay for our schools, our hospitals, our roads and our social programs?

The Northern Gateway pipeline and the four new natural gas lines proposed to run through the Prince George region are extremely important for Canada, similar in many ways to the historical push to build the Canadian Pacific Railway 150 years ago.

Canadian history students will remember the 1860s, ‘70s and ‘80s saw a brand new country in the process of being assembled piece by piece, led by Sir John A. Macdonald and his contemporaries. Simply stated, it was a race to create Canada and thereby hold off American expansionism.

US “manifest destiny” meant the US was asserting its own political and economic agenda. The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was an attempt to ensure Canada’s survival by stitching together sparsely populated regions to fend off annexation from the south.

Today our country has the maturity of a century and a half of growth and development as well as a long-standing friendship with the US which, in turn, has retired its manifest destiny to the scrap heap.

But, like 150 years ago, today we still need a focused plan that makes Canadian pipelines a priority in ensuring Canada’s economic interests are served, just as the railway served Canada’s interests following Confederation. No other country will ensure our national interests are covered; we have to do it ourselves.

We have pipelines operating in this province that are 60 years old, and they’re still performing extremely well. This is because operation and maintenance is driven in part by monitoring technology that has improved enormously over time and is today state of the art.

But as a region, a province and a country, we have to learn from our mistakes. The softwood lumber skirmishes between Canada and the US taught us that we have to be constantly watchful over our markets and our right to access them. There’s an important lesson here.

Similarly, any Northern BCer knows the pine beetle took decades out of the harvest in our region and many other regions across the province. That was another big lesson – in part about diversifying our industry and our markets, and about the importance of doing it now.

But make no mistake. The discussion of a carefully planned Northern Gateway built to the highest environmental standards is very much about Canada’s future.

If Sir John A were around today, would he have any success at building the CPR during a modern era of multiple stakeholders and endless protest? I suppose the answer to that question depends on how seriously we take Canada’s national interest. I take it very seriously, and I say the Northern Gateway proposal is an important part of Canada’s future.

Ken Sands is a long-standing businessman and community volunteer in Prince George, BC.

Pipeline report fails real-world test

pipeline report

Opinion: Risk assessment report on the likelihood of future marine spills full of numerous errors that threatens credibility

By Keith Michel and Audun Brandsaeter, Special to The Vancouver Sun May 14, 2013

As professionals in the field of risk assessment, we’re faced daily with the task of separating legitimate risk from its misinterpretation. Continue reading

A recent paper claiming Enbridge Northern Gateway’s risk assessment underestimated the likelihood of future marine spills is an example of a report that makes serious errors in its assumptions and as a result, significantly inflates the risks involved in the future operation of the project.

Lead author and Simon Fraser University professor Tom Gunton, along with co-author and PhD student Sean Broadbent, have failed to recognize the number and volume of tanker spills are declining markedly worldwide — even as the total number of tankers plying the world’s waters increases. All data seem to point to the fact that this trend will continue. (SEE FIG. 1 and FIG. 2)

This downward trend in marine spills is due to a number of positive developments in marine safety, including the phased-in acceptance over the past two decades of double-hulled tankers as the absolute industry standard in liquid fuel transportation, as well as a raft of new marine transportation regulations that have come into existence over the past 20 years, and a wholesale shift in the safety culture of the industry.

Yet authors Gunton and Broadbent, in their criticism of findings we presented at the Joint Review Panel examining the pipeline project, fail to recognize the significant downward trend in oil spills from tankers, neglect the positive impact of double-hulled tankers by applying spill statistics dominated by single-hulled tanker accidents, and incorrectly apply combined in-port and at-sea spill statistics when assessing spills during transit from Kitimat to the Pacific. The report authors further criticize Northern Gateway for not using the U.S. Oil Spill Risk Analysis (OSRA) model drafted in 1975 and originally designed to assess the risks of offshore drilling.

But Northern Gateway chose not to use this model to assess the risk of its project for a simple reason: it does not properly assess the localized conditions specific to B.C. For example, the OSRA model fails to account for important regional factors such as the size of ships and local B.C. environmental variables.

By contrast, based on expert judgment, Northern Gateway’s assessment of oil spill risk specifically accounts for these regional factors. Furthermore, the chosen methodology enables assessment of risk and risk reducing measures for each segment of the route, something that would not be possible using the OSRA model.

Even more curious is Gunton’s and Broadbent’s focus on only a small subset of historical failure incident data. Their failure frequency analysis is based on data from only two pipelines. Spill incidents on these pipelines are reflective neither of the industry experience nor of the new technology proposed for Northern Gateway.

But perhaps what’s most telling in the Gunton-Broadbent paper is the fact that its claims fail the real-world test. Based on Gunton’s and Broadbent’s estimates, we would expect 21 to 77 large tanker spills every year around the world. Instead, there are now on average fewer than two large spills per year worldwide. In 2012, there were none.

Had the authors made their paper available to the Joint Review Process for scrutiny — as in fact Northern Gateway did with its reports — then these flaws might have been more openly reviewed and discussed. The public would no doubt have gained from the interaction.

Employing flawed methodology, the authors fail to account for a range of mitigating factors that will make Northern Gateway truly world class — including a commitment to double hulls both for the crude being transported as well as for the fuel driving the vessel, two-tug escorts for laden tankers, enhanced navigational technology, better marine transportation procedures, improved ballast coatings, reduced speed requirements and tough environmental limits.

At the end of the day, readers should know our own peer reviewed analysis finds no reason to think the probability of marine spills here is any greater than the probability anywhere else in the world, where improvements continue and spill incidents are in a steady decline even as tanker traffic increases worldwide.

Keith Michel and Audun Brandsaeter are experts in maritime and oil and gas risk assessment. They appeared before the Joint Review Panel on behalf of Northern Gateway Pipeline project to present their detailed risk assessment findings.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Graham: Canadians need to improve their energy literacy

energy literacy

By Bruce Graham, Calgary Herald April 24, 2013

At its core, Canada is an export nation. And our largest export is oil and gas. Continue reading

As Canadians, we’re lucky to have the third largest oil reserves in the world — 97 per cent of them located in the oilsands in northern Alberta.

We’ve gained the skills to exploit these reserves in an environmentally friendly manner and to export them primarily via pipelines using innovative technology and tough environmental regulation.

During the next 25 years, the oilsands are expected to contribute more than $2.1 trillion to the Canadian economy — about $84 billion a year. That’s money that goes to all parts of Canada and creates jobs and industry.

Over that same period, the oilsands are expected to contribute about $311 billion in federal taxes to help pay for Canada’s health, education and social programs.

And new oilsands investments are predicted to grow Canada’s oilsands-related jobs from 75,000 in 2010 to 905,000 in 2035 — creating 126,000 jobs in provinces other than Alberta.

The energy sector remains the largest employer of aboriginal people in the country, and in 2010, purchased about $1.3 billion in goods and services from aboriginal-owned businesses.

So why, given the enormous importance of this industry, does the energy sector need to apologize or suggest we can do better? Sure we can do better — we are still in the early stages of developing this resource.

Let’s stop apologizing.

Indeed, this country has some of the toughest environmental and human rights laws and regulations on the books. Oilsands greenhouse gas emissions account for 1/1,000th of the world’s carbon emissions, and through the ingenuity of Canadians, those emissions per barrel have been declining. Since 1990, carbon emissions intensity from the oilsands has been reduced by 26 per cent.

In Canada, we are developing world-leading carbon capture and storage projects. In fact, a Calgary-based company is among the finalists in the Virgin Earth Challenge for carbon negative technology — further reinforcing our technical expertise and commitment to the environment.

Alberta’s oilsands and Canada’s extensive pipeline network are highly regulated and closely monitored.

New proposed pipelines, like the Northern Gateway, will be among the most advanced, safest pipelines in the world, and will include sophisticated computerized monitoring systems, aerial patrols, routine inspections and detailed education outreach to local landowners and communities.

Unfortunately, many Canadians simply don’t understand how important the oilsands — and the pipeline networks that transport this oil — are to the future strength of the nation.

A recent study by the University of Calgary on energy literacy demonstrates how much work needs to be done to educate Canadians on energy issues.

As the university’s Jean-Sebastien Rioux notes, “Canada is in danger of having a general population that is divorced from the process of wealth creation via the responsible development of our plentiful natural resources — both renewable and non-renewable — which accounts directly for over 15 per cent of our gross domestic product, and about 20 per cent if we include the indirect contribution to our GDP through the purchase of goods and services such as construction, machinery, professional services and transportation.”

We need to vastly improve energy literacy in this country so that we can have intelligent debates about energy policy.

We must begin to realize the importance of diversifying our energy market beyond the United States. Canada loses $50 million a day, or $17 billion a year, because our only customer, the United States, receives a discount on the international market price.

If Canadian oil could reach tidewater via pipelines to the West Coast, like Northern Gateway, we could eliminate this discount, meaning more money in provincial and federal coffers — and more jobs across the country. Similarly, moving product east via TransCanada’s converted gas pipeline to Quebec and New Brunswick provides opportunities to get to tidewater.

The risks of building and operating pipelines are manageable; it can be done in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

The real risk is a public that’s been and continues to be misinformed on energy matters.

The focus must now be on better educating Canadians on our natural resource and energy abundance — and on the transportation networks that get these resources to market.

No less than the future prosperity of this country depends on it.

Bruce Graham is president and CEO of Calgary Economic Development.

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Moore: Greenpeace co-founder comes out in favour of XL pipeline

Patrick Moore

Greenpeace co-founder, Patrick Moore, comes out in favour of XL pipeline

When it comes to producing, transporting and ultimately exporting Alberta oil to U.S. and Asian markets, the rhetoric is in high gear in Canada and the U.S. So it might be useful to take a hard look at our options in the hope of re-setting the discussion. Continue reading

Oil is essential for more than 90% of transportation worldwide and will remain so, at least until two things change: Electric cars become as affordable as those powered with gasoline and diesel, and can travel 500 km or more on a single charge, thereby eliminating so-called “range anxiety.” Until these “game-changers” occur, the strong demand for fossil-based transportation fuel will likely hold for a very long time. After all, there are more than 20 models of all-electric cars to choose from today, yet they account for well below 1% of new car sales. The market is signalling a strong preference for conventional, affordable gas- and diesel-powered cars, despite the generous subsidies many governments have offered for all-electric vehicles.

Having visited Canada’s oilsands extensively, and having worked on environmental issues for more than 40 years, I am at ease with the notion that the oil is produced under the best environmental regulations, labour conditions, human-rights laws, and First Nations participation in the world.

I’m an ecologist, not an economist, but I understand economics well enough to know oil will be delivered to markets that demand it, by one means or another. There are more than one billion automobiles and millions more buses, trucks, trains and aircraft that cannot operate without oil. Without oil, economies and civilization in general would come to a virtual standstill.

From the perspective of sustainability, where aspects of environment, economy and society work in balance with one another, decisions that bring civilization to a virtual standstill are obviously to be avoided. Pipelines, properly constructed and properly maintained, make sense and should be part of our sustainability equation.

I don’t have to tell you that oil can also be delivered overland via rail cars and tanker trucks. But it is clear that pipelines are superior, both environmentally and economically.

It is an added environmental benefit that less fossil-fuel energy is consumed while delivering oil by pipeline than by rail or truck.

Having stated my preference, on sustainability grounds, for pipelines, I also believe the environmental movement has every right to demand the highest environmental standards for any industrial development — including pipeline projects. But I do not accept that the environmental movement should be given a veto over national energy or economic policy. That is for elected governments.

My strong conviction on who should, and should not, have a veto on environmental issues stems from years of international sustainability work. I’ve had several meetings lately in India on issues around energy and agriculture. About 300 million people, mostly farmers, are without electricity in India. Yet environmental activists have blocked virtually every hydroelectric project recently proposed to provide electricity, irrigation and flood control.

As a result of this effective environmentalist veto, India has embarked on a massive build-out of coal-fired power plants that blacken the skies and provide no irrigation or flood control. This is what results from misguided campaigns led by ill-informed activists who do not think about the consequences of their wrong-headed positions.

Let’s avoid this notion of providing a single interest group with a veto over important aspects of energy policy, including pipelines. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid making decisions on crucial energy infrastructure on the basis of sensationalism, misinformation and fear.

Patrick Moore is co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace and chairperson emeritus at www.GreenspiritStrategies.com

Pipeline Sustainability

pipeline sustainability

The Sustainability of Pipelines
By Patrick Moore, guest columnist

March 26, 2013

When it comes to producing, transporting and ultimately exporting Alberta oil to U.S. and Asian markets, the rhetoric is in high gear in Canada and the U.S. So it might be useful to take a hard look at our options in the hope of resetting the discussion. Continue reading

Oil is essential for more than 90% of transportation worldwide and will remain so, at least until two things change: Electric cars become as affordable as those powered with gasoline and diesel, and can travel 500 km or more on a single charge, thereby eliminating so-called “range anxiety.” Until these ‘game-changers’ occur, the strong demand for fossil-based transportation fuel will likely hold for a very long time. After all, there are more than 20 models of all-electric cars to choose from today, yet they account for well below 1% of new car sales. The market is signalling a strong preference for conventional, affordable gas- and diesel-powered cars, despite the generous subsidies many governments have offered for all-electric vehicles.

Having visited Canada’s oilsands extensively, and having worked on environmental issues for more than 40 years, I am at ease with the notion that the oil is produced under the best environmental regulations, labour conditions, human rights laws, and First Nations participation in the world.

I’m an ecologist, not an economist, but I understand economics well enough to know oil will be delivered to markets that demand it, by one means or another. There are more than one billion automobiles and millions more buses, trucks, trains and aircraft that cannot operate without oil. Without oil, economies and civilization in general would come to a virtual standstill.

From the perspective of sustainability, where aspects of environment, economy and society work in balance with one-another, decisions that bring civilization to a virtual standstill are obviously to be avoided. Pipelines, properly constructed and properly maintained, make sense and should be part of our sustainability equation.

I don’t have to tell you that oil can also be delivered overland via rail cars and tanker trucks. But it is clear that pipelines are superior both environmentally and economically.

It is an added environmental benefit that less fossil fuel energy is consumed while delivering oil by pipeline than by rail or truck transport.

Having stated my preference, on sustainability grounds, for pipelines, I also believe the environmental movement has every right to demand the highest environmental standards for any industrial development — including pipeline projects. But I do not accept that the environmental movement should be given a veto over national energy or economic policy. That is for elected governments.

My strong conviction on who should, and should not, have a veto on environmental issues stems from years of international sustainability work. I’ve had several meetings lately in India on issues around energy and agriculture. About 300 million people, mostly farmers, are without electricity in India. Yet environmental activists have blocked virtually every hydroelectric project recently proposed to provide electricity, irrigation and flood control.

As a result of this effective environmentalist veto, India has embarked on a massive build-out of coal-fired power plants that blacken the skies and provide no irrigation or flood control. This is what results from misguided campaigns led by ill-informed activists who do not think about the consequences of their wrong-headed positions, and demand veto power.

Let’s avoid this notion of providing a single interest group with a veto over important aspects of energy policy, including pipelines. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid making decisions on crucial energy infrastructure on the basis of sensationalism, misinformation and fear.

—Dr. Moore is co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace and Chairman Emeritus at www.GreenspiritStrategies.com