oilsands

Thu, 2014-04-17 10:30Guest
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This One Change Would Make the Oilsands No Longer Worth Developing

oilsands, carbon emissions

This is a guest post by Andrew Leach, Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Alberta. The article originally appeared in Maclean's magazine and is republished here with permission.

It was reported recently that Exxon-Mobil will begin disclosing the degree to which its assets are exposed to future greenhouse gas policies. This risk is at the heart of what has become known as the carbon bubble, a term advanced by UK group Carbon Tracker, which suggests that assets may be over-valued as a result of not accounting for potential future limits on fossil fuel extraction imposed to fight climate change.

The so-called carbon bubble should be a concern to investors in oil sands stocks, and you only need to consider two numbers to understand why: 80 and 320. First, the number 80: oil sands producers and the Alberta government are quick to tell you that up to 80 per cent of the life-cycle emissions from oil sands occur from refining and combustion, not from extraction and upgrading.

That’s comforting, until you consider that this means that most of the carbon policy exposure for these projects comes from emissions-control policies and innovations far beyond the jurisdictions and markets in which oil sands companies operate.

Sat, 2014-04-12 21:28Emma Gilchrist
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Kitimat Votes ‘NO’ to Enbridge Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline in Local Plebiscite

Kitimat residents have voted against the Northern Gateway pipeline, with 58.4 per cent of ballots in the city’s plebiscite being cast against the project, as of around 9 p.m. Saturday. In total, 1,793 voted against the proposed project, while 1,278 or 41.6 per cent were in favour.

3,071 ballots were cast, marking a high turnout (62 per cent) in the community of roughly 4,900 eligible voters at the terminus of Enbridge’s proposed oil pipeline. Fifty-six per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the last municipal election.

We’re celebrating with the Haisla outside in the park…and they’re surrounding the Douglas Channel Watch with thank you signs. They’re performing a drum song right now,” said Patricia Lange from Douglas Channel Watch.

It’s a really powerful moment.”

The vote, although non-binding, is an important part of the public relations battle being waged over Enbridge’s project. Enbridge brought in teams of paid corporate canvassers from out of town, placed full-page ads in northern newspapers and launched a “Vote Yes For Kitimat” website.

This vote is confirmation we are going to stand firm and say no to the influence of big oil,” Lange said.

Sat, 2014-04-12 11:01Derek Leahy
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"Our Fate Rests With This Appeal": First Nation Takes National Energy Board to Court Over Line 9 Approval

Joe Miskokomon

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation have launched a legal challenge against the National Energy Board’s (NEB) decision to approve Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline project in southern Ontario and southern Quebec. The NEB – Canada’s independent energy regulator – approved the project to ship 300,000 barrels a day of oil and oilsands bitumen last month with soft conditions.

This 40-year old pipe is subject to corrosion and heavy crude is going to be shipped through in higher volumes. We feel that this raises the possibility of new impacts beyond the right-of-way and we are concerned about our water resources and the environment,” says Chief Joe Miskokomon of the Chippewas of the Thames or Deshkaan Ziibing* in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language.

Deshkaan Ziibing is one of fourteen Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations), and Lenape (Delaware) First Nations living along or near the 38-year old Line 9 pipeline. DeSmog Canada reported last November that the federal government’s failure to fulfill its legal duty to consult with all of these First Nations could land the federal government and the Line 9 project in court.

The legal challenge was filed last Monday with the Federal Court of Appeal on the grounds the NEB approved Line 9 without the federal government “conducting any meaningful consultation” with Deshkaan Ziibing.

Fri, 2014-04-11 10:56Carol Linnitt
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27 B.C. Climate Experts Rejected From Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Hearings

Kinder Morgan trans mountain Pipeline

This week a group of climate experts published a letter detailing the climate impacts of the proposed tripling of the Trans Mountain pipeline which carries oilsands diluted bitumen and other fuels from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver. The group represents 27 climate experts – a mix of economists, scientists and political and social scientists – from major British Columbian universities who were recently rejected from the pipeline hearing process because they proposed to discuss the project’s significance for global climate change.

According to Simon Donner, associate professor from the University of British Columbia and climate variability expert, “the government is ignoring the expertise of not just scientists, but policy analysts and economists.”

You'd have an easier time finding a seat at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals than an expert who thinks the energy policy is consistent with Canada meeting this government's own promised emissions target,” he told DeSmog Canada.

For Donner, the exclusion of climate experts from National Energy Board (NEB) pipeline hearings throws the legitimacy of the environmental assessment process into question.

The NEB and the federal government want to make a decision about the environmental and social impact of the pipeline expansion without considering one of the biggest long-term threats to the environment and society – climate change,” he said.

Wed, 2014-04-09 16:20Derek Leahy
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Benefits from Canada's Energy Boom Remain in Energy Sector and Largely in Alberta, Reports IMF

prime minister stephen harper

The message the federal government has been pushing through its ‘responsible resource development’ ad blitz in recent years is one of all Canadians benefiting from developing our energy sources (particularly the oilsands). This is why export pipelines must be built through our communities and LNG plants for natural gas constructed on our coasts. Canadian oil and gas must reach international markets for the economy to thrive, argues Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the infamous global finances referee, took a closer look at Canada’s energy sector – oil and gas primarily – earlier this year and finds the benefits from Canada’s energy boom still remain largely within the energy sector.

There appears to be an important scope to increase inter-industry linkages across Canada that would lead to wider sharing of benefits from the energy sector,” concludes the IMF report released last January.

The IMF finds every dollar invested in the energy sector in Alberta grows Canadian GDP – an economic vitality indicator – by 90 cents. Of this growth, 82 cents remains in Alberta, mostly in the energy sector (67 cents). The leftover GDP growth is split between Ontario (four cents), the rest of Canada (three cents) and the U.S.(two cents).

Wed, 2014-04-09 13:06Carol Linnitt
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Greenpeace Complaint Against Ethical Oil Brings “Corrosive Effect of Oil on Our Politics” to Light

When Greenpeace Canada’s climate and energy campaigner Keith Stewart filed an official complaint with Elections Canada, he did a lot more than question the implications of the Ethical Oil Institute’s collusion with the Conservative Party of Canada: he called national attention to the corrosive effect oil money has had on Canadian politics in recent years.

At the broadest level,” Stewart told DeSmog Canada via e-mail, “we are trying to rebalance the playing field between money and people power in Canadian politics. You can never eliminate the influence of money on politics, but you can limit it and make it more transparent.”

Greenpeace’s request for an investigation is based on the fact that corporate donations to political parties are banned in federal politics — yet money raised by the Ethical Oil Institute appears to have been spent on advertising and other activities developed and implemented by people directly involved in the Conservative Party of Canada. The institute does not disclose its funding sources, but its website states it does “accept donations from Canadian individuals and companies, including those working to produce Ethical Oil.”

Tue, 2014-04-08 09:21Indra Das
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More Than 100 Scientists and Economists Call on President Obama to Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline

Keystone XL protest

More than 100 scientists and economists “concerned about climate change and its impacts” signed an open letter Monday calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport oilsands crude from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast, mainly for export.

The signers “urge [President Obama and Secretary Kerry] to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline as a project that will contribute to climate change at a time when we should be doing all we can to put clean energy alternatives in place.”

The letter, signed by prominent leaders in science and economics, is the latest addition to an already strong and growing opposition to the Keystone XL project in the U.S., including 2 million public comments sent to President Obama and a previous open letter signed last month by over 200 business leaders and entrepreneurs asking for the rejection of the pipeline.

Mon, 2014-04-07 14:40Carol Linnitt
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Look At These Incredible Photos Taken By Pulitzer Center Journalists Flying Over the Oilsands This Week

Dan Grossman, Alex McLean, Alberta tar sands, oilsands

Journalist Dan Grossman and photographer Alex MacLean are in the middle of their week long tour of the Alberta oilsands. Their on-the-scene reporting is meant to bring greater public attention to the scale – and the stakes – of developing oil from the world’s largest deposit of carbon-intensive bitumen.

As Grossman puts it on the Pulitzer Center website, “We know the ground beneath Alberta’s boreal forest—saturated with an estimated 150 billion barrels of oil—rivals all other troves of oil apart from those of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. We know Alberta’s rich deposits underlie a territory of 54,000 square miles, as large as Iowa. But we can barely comprehend numbers this big. Alex will help us. He’ll show us waste ponds nearly the size of Manhattan and dump trucks that could swallow a McMansion whole.”  

Grossman has been tweeting about his experience in the oilsands region prolifically since April 4th. Below you can see some of the duo’s photojournalist coverage of their trip so far.

Fri, 2014-04-04 09:17Derek Leahy
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Ontario Launches Provincial Public Forum on Energy East Pipeline, Everyone Welcome to Speak

Energy East export pipeline

The government of Ontario is holding community discussions in northern Ontario to hear opinions on TransCanada’s proposed Energy East oil pipeline project. Part of the $12 billion pipeline project involves converting 1,900 kilometres of pipeline from natural gas to oil in northern Ontario and constructing one hundred kilometers of new pipeline in southeastern Ontario.

Ontario’s public forum on Energy East may be the first of its kind in the country. Provinces do not usually hold community meetings on oil pipelines that cross provincial boundaries such as Energy East. The National Energy Board (NEB) – Canada’s energy regulator – has jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines, not the provinces.  

The forum appears to be the result of public outcry in Ontario over Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline project and restrictions the National Energy Board (NEB) placed on public participation in the project's review process. Last March, the NEB approved Line 9 despite public safety concerns about transporting oilsands bitumen through the pipeline.

The erosion of the National Energy Board process, in both accessibility and scope, has left a void in need of being filled. That is why the Ontario government stepping in is so commendable and needed. The Ontario Energy Board process is much more inclusive to the broad range of concerns the public has,” says Yan Roberts of North Bay, Ontario. North Bay’s community discussion took place on April 2nd.   

Wed, 2014-04-02 10:25Carol Linnitt
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Alberta Energy Regulator Report Links Oilsands Emissions to Negative Health Impacts in Peace River

peace river baytex energy

Families forced to evacuate their homes in Peace River, Alberta due to toxic fumes from bitumen development have finally received official recognition of their plight.

This week an Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) panel released a report confirming the odours released from a Baytex Energy Corp. oilsands processing facility may have been the cause of health complications, including chronic coughing, disorientation, nose and throat irritation, fatigue, weight loss, gray skin, and the formation of growths, that forced the families from their properties.

Oilsands deposits in the Peace River region are extracted using a relatively new method called Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand or CHOPS. The process involves pumping heavy oil from the ground to heated surface-level tanks that produce emissions plumes.

The Panel’s main finding in this section is that odours from heavy oil operations in the Peace River area have the potential to cause some of the symptoms experienced by residents; therefore, these odours should be eliminated,” the report states.

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