Canada and USA in ginormous fight over oil

This is a Really Big Show, friends. The conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, threw down the gauntlet at Obama’s feet by approving the construction of a pipeline to run from Alberta to the Pacific Coast at Kitimat through British Columbia. This geopolitical game features feints and obfuscation, but even so, the underlying effects of such an endeavor will echo worldwide in a manner that we can foresee.

by Olivia LaRosa, June 17, 2014

The underlying facts will demonstrate the earth-shaking nature of this challenge from the Harper government:

  • The US military is the largest consumer of petroleum products on earth – by far
  • The Harper government is seeking to “expand its markets.” Canada now ships 97% of her oil to the US.
  • The resulting increased demand for oil will create more tar sands wastelands and pollute water tables
  • How will a project of this magnitude disrupt surrounding systems? Can the externalized costs be quantified or justified?
  • The pipeline will span 731 miles
  • The resulting increased demand for oil will create more tar sands wastelands and pollute water tables
  • The average tar sands field produces for only three years. Production drops off 80% more or less after that.
  • To learn more see my articles: On the potential disruption to global markets

  • The oil will be shipped to “Asia.” Who of the billions on the largest continent on earth will receive this oil?
  • The end client is unknown

This 731-mile drive between Bruderheim, Alberta and Kitimat, the bay town that is the British Columbia terminus, takes at least 17 hours. The route crosses both the Northern Rockies (1) and the Western System, nearly as formidably rugged.(2)-

Likely outcomes:

  • Pipeline leaks and piracy
  • Bitumen fires
  • Environmental despoliation at the tar sands extraction sites and everywhere along the pipeline route
  • Government support for contractors who underbid and underperform
  • Destabilization of global political economy by making US oil supplies vulnerable and affecting the petrodollar’s dominance in markets
  • Corporate promises of environmental protections not kept
  • “Ghost towns” left after the tar sands boom cost local citizens lots in tax dollars and attract street criminals

Q. What Asian country would most like to be able to control and divert the product of a major oil supplier of critical geopolitical significance?
A. All of them.

We as citizens of planet earth must halt this waste of petrochemical resources to protect and preserve future generations’ access to the lifesaving properties of these products.

The big question, as always, is “Who Wins?” Here, it will be the Big Oil corporations, their subsidiaries and parasites, that by using their vertically-integrated tax-laundering mechanisms, evade their duty as citizens. In exchange, they might “give us jobs” building a pipeline across incredibly hostile and rugged territory.(1) It will be a temporary position, whether or not we survive the work.

(1) The Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western System.
(2) The Western System comprises the Coast Mountains, the Canadian portion of the Cascade Mountains (known in the US as the Cascade Range), the southeastern most Saint Elias Mountains and the Coastal Trough, which includes the Georgia Depression and its subunit the Fraser Lowland and other low-lying coastal areas. The western terminus is located in the Kitimat Ranges.


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Canada OKs oil pipeline to the Pacific Coast

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s government on Tuesday approved a controversial pipeline proposal that would bring oil to the Pacific Coast for shipment to Asia, a major step in the country’s efforts to diversify its oil exports if it can overcome fierce opposition from environmental and aboriginal groups.

Approval for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project was expected as Canada needs infrastructure in place to export its growing oil sands production. The project’s importance has only grown since the U.S. delayed a decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would take oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The northern Alberta region has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Enbridge’s pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific to deliver oil to Asia, mainly energy-hungry China. About 220 large oil tankers a year would visit the Pacific coast town of Kitimat and opponents fear pipeline leaks and a potential tanker spill on the pristine Pacific coast.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada’s national interest makes the pipelines essential.

Mt. Columbia, Canadian Rockies
Mt. Columbia, Canadian Rockies

He was “profoundly disappointed” that U.S. President Barack Obama delayed a decision on the Texas Keystone XL option, and spoke of the need to diversify Canada’s oil industry. Ninety-seven percent of Canadian oil exports now go to the U.S.

Meanwhile, China’s growing economy is hungry for Canadian oil. Chinese state-owned companies have invested more than $40 billion in Canadian energy in the past few years.

“They are watching this very, very closely,” said Wenran Jiang, an energy expert and special adviser to Alberta’s Department of Energy.

“They told us as recently as a couple of weeks ago that further investment will depend on whether there will be at least opportunities to ship some of this crude to China. Currently all of their investment and production goes into the U.S. They are currently living with that,” he said.

Jiang said Canada ships all its oil to the U.S. so it’s vital that Canada diversify its energy exports. Canadian oil is sold at a discount compared to the prices elsewhere.

The Harper government declined requests for comment on Tuesday, only issuing a statement.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said in a statement that Enbridge must meet the 209 conditions Canada’s regulator imposed on the pipeline. The company has previously said it would.

Enbridge President and Chief Executive Officer Al Monaco welcomed the decision but noted “we still have some more work to do.”

The fear of oil spills is especially acute in the pristine corner of northwest British Columbia, with its snowcapped mountains and deep ocean inlets. Canadians living there still remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. British Columbia Premier Christy Clark set out five conditions for British Columbia’s support, and on Tuesday she repeated her contention that those conditions have yet to be met. Harper will have win support in British Columbia where he’ll want to preserve the 21 seats he has there. The British Columbia government can deny permits. Aboriginals could also get in the way of construction trucks.

Environmentalists and Canada’s native tribes could delay approval all the way to the Supreme Court, and the tribes still hold title to some of the land the pipeline would cross. That means the government will have to move with extreme sensitivity.

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said aboriginal people will blockade any attempt by Enbridge to start work.

A statement issued by a broad coalition of British Columbia aboriginal groups vowed that they would “defend our territories whatever the costs may be.”

Environmental groups said Ottawa’s approval is no guarantee that the controversial project will be built.

“We are deeply disappointed, but you need to look no further than the spate of legal challenges filed against this project to know that Cabinet’s approval is by no means a guarantee that this project will ever be built,” said Barry Robinson, a lawyer for Ecojustice.

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