Opinion: Northern communities need pipeline — and its jobs (Ron Burnett)

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Opinion: Northern communities need pipeline — and its jobs

Written by: Ron Burnett for The Province, November 27, 2014

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Recent news coverage suggests there’s a growing awareness that B.C. needs economic development and that projects such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline can play an important role in making that happen. That’s good news for employees, business owners and their families throughout resource-dependent B.C. that have gone through a tough last decade or more.

As a longtime resident of Kitimat near the proposed pipeline terminus, and as someone who has watched the local demise of the Eurocan pulp mill and its 500 jobs, and the Methanex plant and its 120 jobs, I focus a lot of my energy on working with my colleagues to try to replace high-paid local employment to build and sustain our community. Here’s how I think about the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project.

First, Northern Gateway’s positive economic impact on the country will be felt from here to the East Coast. Most people by now have heard reference to the $6.5-billion investment the project represents. But in my view, that’s just the beginning of the economic story.

If approved, this pipeline would allow Canadian producers to obtain fair market price for their products by selling to Asia rather than being restricted to U.S. markets, where bottlenecks and new domestic energy capacity combine to hurt our prices significantly. Accessing Asia, in turn, would help clear the way for the industry and our country to prosper.

Remember, there are a lot of families in our region that are dependent on the oil and gas employment economy. If the market access challenge is solved, we — all of us — do better.

Next, the province must support this proposal as an initiative that can truly improve our lives. Some 3,000 B.C. jobs will be created during the project’s construction, as well as 560 permanent B.C. jobs in the long term. Investment and new jobs from the pipeline will generate $1.2 billion in revenue for B.C.’s treasury over the next 30 years, which can help to build new hospitals, improve classroom education, and to support our quality of life in general.

Our own community stands to derive jobs and taxes from a proposed storage facility and additional employment on the marine side where the large tugs will require crews and maintenance.

And if value were to be added in Canada through upgrading and refining — both topics still under discussion in some circles — then the economic returns could be even more significant.

To push the economic point further, I say Premier Christy Clark was right to hold out for a framework agreement on her five conditions. One of those conditions is designed to ensure British Columbians are fairly rewarded for the level of risk their province undertakes. To me, the condition makes perfect sense.

But let’s be clear. Safety can be managed. Tankers in this region are most certainly not a new phenomenon.

As a 60-year user of the Douglas Channel and as a lifelong Kitimat resident, I can assure you tanker traffic has been plying the channel since the early 1950s, and the tanker traffic continues to today.

In other words, my view is the project benefits outweigh any risks and the precautions proposed are more than adequate.

Double-hulled tankers tethered to very powerful tugs, two pilots and enhanced navigational technology like land-based radar all go a long way to satisfying my concerns.

Further, pipe monitoring 24/7, remote pump stations staffed around the clock, enhanced, dual leak detection and thicker pipe combine to assuage concerns on the land.

Our corner of the province has had a very rough ride through the catastrophic pine-beetle epidemic in our Interior forests that resulted in the closure of manufacturing in Kitimat, Terrace, Hazelton, Houston and Quesnel. That’s a lot of lost jobs and worried families. We need to put the economic pieces back together and then move forward, in a safe, responsible way.

I often point out to people that we in Canada seem to live in a bubble. We account for just two per cent of the global economy and yet we think we can compete with the world on its terms. But for a few rare exceptions, we simply don’t have the population to do so.

We Canadians are fortunate. We have a rich energy resource and the world-leading technical know-how to develop, transport and sell it safely and responsibly to the rest of the world. It’s our ace in the hole. Let’s be proud of the opportunities our natural resources export sector offers, and let’s move forward.

 Ron Burnett is president of the Kitimat Economic Development Association and past-president of the Kitimat — Terrace Industrial Development Society. He lives in Kitimat.

Read the original article here.

Opinion: Capt. Stephen Brown: B.C. mariners reject oil-tanker fearmongering

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Opinion: Capt. Stephen Brown: B.C. mariners reject oil-tanker fearmongering

Written by: Stephen Brown for The Province, October 16, 2013

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Most British Columbians are aware the Canadian oilsands provide needed, well-paying jobs. Perhaps less appreciated is the fact that the oilsands industry has an indirect but very substantial positive impact on our local economies.

For years, many rural B.C. communities struggled to develop sustainable economies in which young people could build their lives without being forced to move away in search of work.

As a former seafarer, I know very well the challenges of working away from home, often for many months at a time. We embraced that lifestyle as the basis of a career. But many British Columbians would prefer to do without such a nomadic way of life.

By investing in responsible resource extraction and energy development in B.C., we can create new opportunities for our citizens, allowing them to live and work in their home towns.

Just look at what’s happening in Alberta. Many communities there are, for the first time, benefiting from paved roads, well-equipped and staffed health-care centres and public facilities that are second to none. Indeed, on a recent visit to Fort McMurray, I was surprised to learn that the city has the largest and most modern recreation centre in Canada. What a great asset in a growing community.

While cynics may dismiss this form of economic development as oil companies buying their social license, it’s much more than that. For example, the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association is a vital cog in the oilsands economy as it provides tremendous employment opportunities and a previously unimaginable standard of living for its members. In 2010, oilsands companies are reported to have contracted more than $1.3 billion for goods and services from native-owned businesses.

Although we may not notice it, the oilsands also benefit B.C. As a prominent Vancouver Island mayor recently explained to me, there is a disconnect between natural resource development and the local wealth it generates. People have no appreciation for how many well-paying B.C. jobs are dependent on the continued success of the oilsands. In future, roughly 126,000 oilsands jobs will be created in provinces other than Alberta.

But here, for me, is the most impressive economic fact for British Columbia: recent estimates from the Canadian Energy Research Institute show that the oilsands will generate $28 billion in economic benefits solely for our province over the next 25 years.

B.C.’s professional marine industry will continue to argue for what we know to be the silent majority of Canadians who support environmentally sustainable resource development. Indeed, most Canadians are appalled at how much money we are sacrificing as a country (up to $50 million a day) simply because our oilsands resources are landlocked.

Preventing this oil from reaching markets worldwide makes no sense when everyone knows how badly we need that money to be pumped into infrastructure development, schools, hospitals and social services — not to mention pay down a provincial debt of $57 billion in B.C. that is growing by more than $200 every second.

The tragedy of the Exxon Valdez tanker 24 years ago remains a rallying point for opponents of development. However, had the Exxon Valdez been built under legislation crafted in 1990 in the U.S. and which is now internationally applied, there would have been no loss of oil in that incident.

Indeed, in 2012, no major spills occurred anywhere. So, given the additional layers of risk mitigation that we are committed to applying, we entirely reject the notion that it is only a matter of time before a spill will occur on the coastline of B.C.

That’s not to say we are complacent. Indeed, a diverse group of stakeholders travelled to Norway in June to examine what many believe to be that country’s world-class spill regime.

We take the view that if lessons learned can provide even a marginal improvement in preparedness, then we must make that investment.

The marine industry will continue to operate safely, as we do on tens of thousands of vessels, including several thousand tankers, that ply the oceans of the world every day in order to ensure the lights stay on and there is gas at the pump — even if we don’t always care for the price.

And we’ll continue to work closely with our resource and energy sector partners, creating new opportunities for British Columbians right here at home.

Capt. Stephen Brown is president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia.

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Opinion: Shipping oil has never been safer

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Opinion: Shipping oil has never been safer

Improved tanker design, navigation and a fleet of response vessels means spills aren’t inevitable
Written by: Stephen Brown and Kevin Gardner, Special to the Vancouver Sun, October 8, 2013

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An oil tanker is guided by tug boats as it goes under the Lions Gate Bridge at the mouth of Vancouver Harbour. Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press
An oil tanker is guided by tug boats as it goes under the Lions Gate Bridge at the mouth of Vancouver Harbour.
Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Canadian Press

As British Columbians continue to debate energy development and transportation proposals to allow Canada to ship oil exports to new markets, questions are being asked of safety in the marine sector and of our ability to deal with an oil spill in the unlikely event of such an occurrence.

Shipping oil in and out of B.C. is nothing new. Oil has been uneventfully moved on the coast of British Columbia for the past 100 years. For most of that time, the technologies of precision navigation that are today compulsory equipment on the bridge of a ship simply did not exist.

But what of the Exxon Valdez?, argue some critics.

The marine industry can reasonably claim to have learned the lessons of Exxon Valdez. In fact, had the Exxon Valdez been built to construction standards first introduced in the 1990s, not a drop of oil would have been spilled in that incident.

Before any tanker is chartered by an oil company, the vessel is vetted in detail with the assistance of international databases describing every aspect of a tanker’s history. As a consequence, tanker owners are highly incentivized to ensure their vessels, and the crews that operate them, maintain an exemplary record of performance.

Highly experienced marine pilots, assisted by equally senior tug masters commanding state of the art and immensely powerful tugs, guide tankers through local waters. It’s the law.

Real time wind and current monitors in combination with comprehensive communications systems ensure marine pilots in British Columbia are at the leading edge of safety innovation.

And so modern ship construction, rigorous training and safety standards, and advanced technologies ensure oil spills today are not inevitable. The proof is clear: Oil spills in the marine environment have declined massively over the past 30 years and in 2012 there were no large spills anywhere in the world.

Yet B.C.’s shipping sector is not resting on its laurels. The marine industry is fully supportive of the federal government’s decision to conduct a review of oil spill preparedness and response, which will be published later this year.

And Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, the organization charged by the federal government with maintaining oil spill preparedness on Canada’s West Coast, is a leader in adopting the latest international marine safety approaches.

The Canada Shipping Act requires that we have the ability to respond to a 10,000-tonne (70,000-barrel) oil spill. WCMRC exceeds that capacity by two and a half times — and we continue to grow our capacity even further.

WCMRC has initiated detailed mapping of the B.C. coastline to improve the organization’s coastal knowledge base, maintains strategically located equipment caches in 11 locations from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, and conducts training exercises regularly across the B.C. coast.

In the unlikely event of a spill, WCMRC has a fleet of 31 vessels at the ready. An additional 80 vessels manned by well-trained and experienced contractors are also available. And WCMRC can call upon a worldwide network of resources and personnel that further enhances its ability to respond rapidly and effectively to any spill.

WCMRC continues to benchmark itself against several other leading countries and was recently part of a B.C. delegation to study Norway’s experiences with the aim of continually improving its own expertise.

Federal and provincial governments and the oil and pipeline companies are making unprecedented investments in scientific research to better understand the behaviour of different products in the marine environment. The outcome of this research will provide WCMRC with an even higher level of advanced knowledge for spill preparedness and response.

As for the ability to pay for a significant cleanup, however remote the likelihood, Canada is a world leader. While the principle of “polluter pays” is applicable in all jurisdictions worldwide, thanks to a layer of national reserve funding known as the Canadian Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund (CSSOPF), the Canadian marine industry’s coverage is over and above statutory international requirements.

And following a detailed international review in 2012, the Limits to Liability for Maritime Claims Convention (LLMC) has raised liability limits in the marine sector by 51 per cent effective 2015. Even so, a review of the size of the CSSOPF forms part of the federal government’s current review of preparedness.

In summary, the world fleet of around 12,500 tankers is quietly but safely going about its business providing essential service to the world economy 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

We should demand of the marine sector the highest standards. We must also recognize how far the sector has come in terms of marine safety and oil spill preparedness and response.

Stephen Brown is president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia. Kevin Gardner is president and general manager of Western Canada Marine Response Corporation.

Why B.C. needs to ‘get to yes’ on major resource projects

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: A minority’s pushback is threatening our future

Written by: John Winter, Special to the Vancouver Sun August 16, 2013

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For a province awash in talent and natural assets, it’s disturbing to see how much British Columbian ingenuity is being channelled into our province’s alarming — and growing — “culture of no.”

Robyn Allan’s attack of Northern Gateway’s job numbers (Vancouver Sun, Issues and Ideas, Aug. 13) is yet another example of that — an intellectual exercise geared at undercutting one of B.C.’s most ambitious and promising job-creating projects to date.

And for what gain?

As British Columbians, we need to sit up and take heed of where the public discourse on resource projects has got to.

From our vantage point, as a network of more than 120 Chambers and 36,000 represented businesses in communities throughout all of B.C., here’s what we’re seeing: it’s a pretty frightening place.

In virtually every corner of the province, we’re seeing the same thing: Smart, highly environmentally responsible projects that can employ our children and keep our towns alive are being battered, paralyzed and stomped out.

By whom, you ask?

Not by most of you, that’s for sure. Broad-based polling consistently finds that the majority of British Columbians favour a “getting to yes” approach to resource projects. This approach calls for top-tier environmental and social practices but, critically, wants to see sound projects succeed.

So no — the pushback on projects isn’t broad-based but rather a minority position. However, that minority pushback, through effective organization and scathing rhetoric, is threatening B.C.’s future for all of us.

And that’s where, as British Columbians, we can’t sit back and watch the “culture of no” threaten our province’s economic future.

Take the Northern Gateway project.

With its $6.5-billion price tag, the project promises to be one of the largest private investments this province has ever seen.

And while critics such as Allan may attack specific job counts, here’s what’s clear: this project will create a vast quantity of high-paying jobs in northern B.C. That’s jobs that will help communities thrive and B.C.’s broader economy to grow. (As a side point, the real problem for B.C. won’t be how many jobs Northern Gateway can create, but just how we’ll fill them all.)

For all of us B.C. taxpayers, as we brace for aging demographics and escalating health care costs, Northern Gateway means $1.2 billion in projected tax revenue to support B.C. health care, education and social programs. That’s a substantial investment in maintaining and growing B.C.’s enviable standard of living.

For B.C. businesses, perhaps one of the most promising things about this project is Enbridge’s commitment to local procurement and local jobs. That’s a commitment to employ British Columbians and keeping spinoff economic activity in the province. That means that from Terrace to Tumbler Ridge, Prince George to Prince Rupert and Vancouver to Victoria, B.C. businesses will see very real benefits from this project.

This is a great gain for B.C. small businesses, which make up 98 per cent of our provincial business community. It also aligns directly with the B.C. government’s forward-looking Small Business Accord. This accord, which the B.C. Chamber had long sought and was implemented this year, will ensure that B.C.’s small businesses have a real shot at landing procurement deals for government projects and programs.

Principles of local procurement and local jobs will only heighten the gains for small business that, as we’ve seen time and time again in B.C., are triggered by large-scale infrastructure investments in our province.

Whether it’s the Port of Prince Rupert in the northwest, oil and gas development in the northeast or investments in Port Metro Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport, these investments have catalyzed the creation and development of countless B.C. businesses.

So there’s a lot at stake here. And frankly, what’s yet to be decided has nothing to do with project economics (which, Ms. Allan, are frankly settled), but rather how we balance economic value against other B.C. priorities, as the Joint Review Panel is assessing.

And with this project, as with any that proposes such substantial benefits for B.C., we hope that British Columbians will take a close look at what’s to gain here. We certainly don’t ask that environmental or community concerns be sidelined. But we’d ask that jobs and economic value not be sidelined as well. This is our future and our kids’ future.

And if you’ve been staying out of project debates in B.C. thus far, we’d urge you to lend your voice to shifting this “culture of no.”

Because if we can pool our B.C. ingenuity and focus on building our province, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.

John Winter is president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Read the original article here.

Why B.C. needs to ‘get to yes’ on major resource projects

Vancouver Sun

Opinion: A minority’s pushback is threatening our future

Written by: John Winter, Special to the Vancouver Sun August 16, 2013

Continue reading

Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat, B.C., on January 10, 2012.

Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat, B.C., on January 10, 2012.

For a province awash in talent and natural assets, it’s disturbing to see how much British Columbian ingenuity is being channelled into our province’s alarming — and growing — “culture of no.”

Robyn Allan’s attack of Northern Gateway’s job numbers (Vancouver Sun, Issues and Ideas, Aug. 13) is yet another example of that — an intellectual exercise geared at undercutting one of B.C.’s most ambitious and promising job-creating projects to date.

And for what gain?

As British Columbians, we need to sit up and take heed of where the public discourse on resource projects has got to.

From our vantage point, as a network of more than 120 Chambers and 36,000 represented businesses in communities throughout all of B.C., here’s what we’re seeing: it’s a pretty frightening place.

In virtually every corner of the province, we’re seeing the same thing: Smart, highly environmentally responsible projects that can employ our children and keep our towns alive are being battered, paralyzed and stomped out.

By whom, you ask?

Not by most of you, that’s for sure. Broad-based polling consistently finds that the majority of British Columbians favour a “getting to yes” approach to resource projects. This approach calls for top-tier environmental and social practices but, critically, wants to see sound projects succeed.

So no — the pushback on projects isn’t broad-based but rather a minority position. However, that minority pushback, through effective organization and scathing rhetoric, is threatening B.C.’s future for all of us.

And that’s where, as British Columbians, we can’t sit back and watch the “culture of no” threaten our province’s economic future.

Take the Northern Gateway project.

With its $6.5-billion price tag, the project promises to be one of the largest private investments this province has ever seen.

And while critics such as Allan may attack specific job counts, here’s what’s clear: this project will create a vast quantity of high-paying jobs in northern B.C. That’s jobs that will help communities thrive and B.C.’s broader economy to grow. (As a side point, the real problem for B.C. won’t be how many jobs Northern Gateway can create, but just how we’ll fill them all.)

For all of us B.C. taxpayers, as we brace for aging demographics and escalating health care costs, Northern Gateway means $1.2 billion in projected tax revenue to support B.C. health care, education and social programs. That’s a substantial investment in maintaining and growing B.C.’s enviable standard of living.

For B.C. businesses, perhaps one of the most promising things about this project is Enbridge’s commitment to local procurement and local jobs. That’s a commitment to employ British Columbians and keeping spinoff economic activity in the province. That means that from Terrace to Tumbler Ridge, Prince George to Prince Rupert and Vancouver to Victoria, B.C. businesses will see very real benefits from this project.

This is a great gain for B.C. small businesses, which make up 98 per cent of our provincial business community. It also aligns directly with the B.C. government’s forward-looking Small Business Accord. This accord, which the B.C. Chamber had long sought and was implemented this year, will ensure that B.C.’s small businesses have a real shot at landing procurement deals for government projects and programs.

Principles of local procurement and local jobs will only heighten the gains for small business that, as we’ve seen time and time again in B.C., are triggered by large-scale infrastructure investments in our province.

Whether it’s the Port of Prince Rupert in the northwest, oil and gas development in the northeast or investments in Port Metro Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport, these investments have catalyzed the creation and development of countless B.C. businesses.

So there’s a lot at stake here. And frankly, what’s yet to be decided has nothing to do with project economics (which, Ms. Allan, are frankly settled), but rather how we balance economic value against other B.C. priorities, as the Joint Review Panel is assessing.

And with this project, as with any that proposes such substantial benefits for B.C., we hope that British Columbians will take a close look at what’s to gain here. We certainly don’t ask that environmental or community concerns be sidelined. But we’d ask that jobs and economic value not be sidelined as well. This is our future and our kids’ future.

And if you’ve been staying out of project debates in B.C. thus far, we’d urge you to lend your voice to shifting this “culture of no.”

Because if we can pool our B.C. ingenuity and focus on building our province, there’s no telling what we can accomplish.

John Winter is president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

Read the original article here.

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

The world will not wait for Canada’s oil

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The world will not wait for Canada’s oil

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.

The world will not wait for Canada’s oil

Globe-&-Mail,-large

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

Continue reading

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

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. Continue reading

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/

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

Continue reading

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 Continue reading

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.

In a province so blessed with a skilled, well-educated workforce, a strong history of sustainable enterprise, and abundant energy resources, how do you get to “Yes” on questions of resource development projects in B.C.?

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.