By: Kevin Turko
Published: Oilfield Pulse
If one takes the time to surf through all the news and the NEB website, I've got to tell you, it is tough not to get depressed with the state our country is in these days. Before I jump into the middle of this pool, a thought occurred to me the other day which made me wonder how all the politicians, eco-activists and concerned environmentalists would react to the following scenario. I know this is more than a little far fetched as it would cripple the Canadian economy for years to come, but work with me for a few more minutes.
Let's say, just hypothetically or perhaps hysterically, that we gave in entirely to all the carbon-free warmongers and decided to kill the oil & gas industry in Canada. As they say, we capitulate totally and leave it in the ground. After all, that is what they are dreaming of, and that is what they are being funded for! Nothing less is acceptable in their minds. No amount of dialogue, monetary appeasement or technological innovations seems to matter. The 3rd largest proven oil reserves in the world, somewhere north of 170 billion barrels. Damn the torpedoes, let's just leave those n nasty and carbon infested fossil fuels in the ground. But the world keeps on spinning, and the demand for oil & gas doesn't diminish for decades to come.
Fast forward to year 2100, and the rest of the world is running out of reserves and we're still sitting on over 100 billion barrels tucked away comfortably across Canada. OK, maybe Western Canada. The UN and other less fortunate countries, now starving for energy, plead with Canada to re-open the flood gates. People around the world will die if we say no! Would we stick to the moral high ground and say no, or would we live up to our renowned friendly reputation and compassionate ways and simply say yes. Of course, we would. But what if we say no? How long do you think it would take some other rogue or desperate state, or our might neighbors to the south, to forcefully and militarily come and get it?
Perhaps for-fetched today, but in the year 2100, who knows!
This leads me to the nonsense that we are experiencing with pipeline approval process here in Canada. The NEB is becoming a joke and now a political pawn for our oh so wonderful climate change gurus., and self-proclaimed planet protectors, federal Liberal government. So much for being an independent regulator! This is rapidly turning into a great way to defer the Energy East decision until after the next federal election, or better yet, to delay the Cabinet decision to say NO so long as these companies simply run out of money, give up on Canada and move on. Before you come over the top rope, and this is directed completely to those who disagree with my opinions, yes, I do firmly believe we must protect the environment and be utterly responsible in how we explore, extract, build pipelines, and ship this stuff. But the demand for oil & gas isn't going away anytime soon. Any decade soon! In fact, the entire crop of carbon naysayers and carbon tax supporters will be long gone, turned into ashes, and will be part of the world's eco-system before this ever happens.
ON AUGUST 23RD THE NEB ISSUED A NEWS RELEASE ON THE EXPANDED FOCUS FOR ENERGY EAST ASSESSMENT. FOR THE MOST I GUESS IT READS OK UNTIL YOU GET TO A COUPLE OF STATEMENTS.
" In addition, the NEB will consider upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in determining whether these projects are in the public interest. The NEB also wants to examine the potential market impacts of GHG reduction targets embedded in laws and policies on the economic viability of the projects."
" Today's decision establishes the foundations for a thorough assessment based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and other relevant evidence."
Oh, for God's Sake! So now TransCanada is also responsible to defend debatable and unsettled climate change science around GHG emissions. Poor souls! I wonder how much more money and time this will cost them? Irving Oil, in a letter to the NEB said, its customers will use "relatively the same" amount of fuel,
ALBERTA WAS THE FIRST JURISDICTION IN NORTH AMERICA TO LEGISLATE INDUSTRIAL GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION REDUCTIONS
and produce the same level of greenhouse gas emissions, whether the Irving-refined oil comes from Alberta through the Energy East Pipeline, or from other sources in the U.S. or overseas. "The scale of downstream GHG emissions will not be influenced by the Project". Bang on! And of course, any surplus oil shipped out of the Bay of Fundy, once refined, will eventually create GHGs. So now the new and improved NEB also needs to consider the downstream GHG emissions in far away countries around the world, to which we have no control nor influence. Whether it's our oil, or oil sourced from another country, the downstream emissions are the same.
As for the upstream side of the NEB's thorough assessment based on science, let me do the quick math. We have about 170 billion barrels of proven reserves, whether it's shipped through Energy East or not, or whatever other pipeline or rail car or not, will create GHG emissions to get it out of the ground. Fact of life! This project is doomed if TransCanada needs to belly up to the bar and defend every producer in Canada and the GHG emissions they are creating. Again, Oh, for God's Sake!
And don't shoot me for saying this, but what does the "traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples" lend to "better understanding the risks associated with potential accidents and system malfunctions that may, for example., lead to an oil spill into the environment" or "upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions"? I suspect their traditional knowledge is about as valuable to the subject of pipeline approvals and climate change as is about 99.9% of all other Canadians.
Rather than the NEB and Federal governments spending all this time and money on determining whether these pipelines are in the public's interest, perhaps they should devote all their time to determine how to get these pipelines built and flowing as safely, environmentally soundly, and expeditiously as possible. They're just not in Canadians public interest, they are in the world's public interest.
The world needs our oil & gas, maybe not as much today, but that day is coming. When will we finally stop, and replace this constant industry vs. eco-activist infighting, and endless NEB navel gazing with Federal Cabinet leadership to simply get on with the show!
Oh, For God's Sake!