Oil sands bust - Macleans.ca

Oil sands bust

How the most valuable resource in our history got mired in politics, protests and logistical nightmares


Etienne de Malglaive/REA/Redux

Prime Minister Stephen Harper first dubbed Canada an “emerging energy superpower” back in 2006. He was talking, primarily, about Alberta’s oil sands. “We are a stable, reliable producer in a volatile, unpredictable world,” he said, sending a clear signal that Ottawa intended to realize the oil sands’ full economic potential, as well as the geopolitical clout that comes along with it.

It was music to Albertans’ ears. With the world’s third-largest proven crude oil reserves, some 175 billion barrels, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, the province had long been aware it was sitting on a gold mine. All that was needed were global oil prices above US$80 a barrel (needed to offset the expense of separating gooey bitumen from the sandy soil) and the necessary political vision to make it all happen. Canada finally had both. Industry forecasts predicted that, over the next quarter-century, the oil sands would draw more than $364 billion in investment, create some 3.2 million “person-years” of employment and add $1.7 trillion to Canada’s GDP.

More than six years later, however, Canada’s superpower dreams are mired in a host of unexpected problems—economic, logistical and political—none of which will be easily solved. Bitumen is still being squeezed from the ground at a rate of 1.7 million barrels per day and growing. But it’s no longer clear how oil companies plan to deliver all that heavy crude, which they once estimated would reach 3.7 million barrels per day by 2021, to refineries and, ultimately, the motoring public.

Existing pipelines in the region are running near capacity and efforts to build new ones have stalled amid protests from anti-oil sands groups who are concerned about the elevated greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil sands production. TransCanada Corp.’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would link Alberta with refineries in Texas, fell prey to U.S. President Barack Obama’s re-election bid, while Enbridge Inc.’s $6-billion Northern Gateway, needed to pump oil to a shipping terminal on the B.C. coast, faces opposition from the green lobby, dozens of First Nations groups, and is the subject of a political standoff between two provincial premiers. Some oil sands producers have resorted to shipping their crude on railcars, a decidedly 19th-century solution, while entrepreneurs are proposing fanciful plans to move it through the Arctic or build heavy refineries on the lush B.C. coast.

The battle over pipelines comes as the United States, which imports roughly 1.4 million barrels of crude oil from Alberta every day, is suddenly swamped with its own oil from unconventional sources like the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota. A recent forecast by the International Energy Agency said the U.S. is on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2020, overtaking Saudi Arabia. New supplies, in turn, have depressed U.S. prices paid to oil sands producers. Meanwhile, demand from countries in Asia is soaring, but there is currently no good way to move the landlocked hydrocarbons overseas. To add insult to injury, refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, tantalizingly out of reach to oil sands firms, are running under capacity.

It’s shaping up to be a nightmare scenario. Global demand for oil has never been higher and yet oil sands producers are forced to sell their product on the cheap. Already some analysts estimate oil sands producers are forgoing more than $27 million a day in potential revenue, causing companies to delay proposed projects and dial back planned investments. Alberta Premier Alison Redford has even warned of a “bitumen bubble” that threatens to siphon $6 billion in tax and royalty revenue from the province’s coffers in the coming fiscal year. “We’re at a critical point right now,” says Geoff Hill, who leads consulting firm Deloitte’s oil and gas group in Calgary. He argues that if something isn’t done soon, the industry could face the unthinkable: “substantial slowdowns in the oil sands.” Other countries will rush to supply the rapidly expanding economies of China and India while the U.S. will increasingly be capable of meeting its own energy needs. Forget about being an energy superpower, Hill says. “We could end up on the outside looking in.”

The industry’s current predicament would have seemed unimaginable just a few decades ago. Back in the 1970s, Alberta was anticipating a major production boom as oil prices soared amid the global energy crisis. But the industry quickly found itself thwarted by Ottawa’s hated National Energy Program, which drove away investment. Then came the oil bust of the 1980s. Prices fell and most oil sands operations became unprofitable. By the 1990s, however, after so many long years of frustration, global oil prices began to recover. And by the turn of the century, the industry, now armed with the latest steam-assisted technologies to drill oil sands bitumen in-situ, was once again on a full boil.

Few would have guessed that a relatively common piece of infrastructure—the lowly pipeline—would threaten to derail Alberta’s oil dreams all over again.

The epicentre of the current crisis is the small town of Cushing, Okla. Cushing is a major U.S. oil storage hub and self-proclaimed “pipeline crossroads of the world.” But in recent years it has become clogged with oil flowing not only from Canada, but from shale formations in the U.S., where new techniques like hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” are used to coax oil from rock. The glut has led to a bizarre situation where the price of oil in the U.S., measured against the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, or WTI, is just $96 a barrel, while the price paid almost everywhere else in the world is closer to $114.

To alleviate the oversupply in Oklahoma, more pipelines are needed to move oil to Gulf Coast refineries. But that’s only part of the problem. Additional pipeline capacity constraints in Alberta have helped push down the price of Western Canadian Select, a heavier grade of oil. It now trades at a discount of about $30 to WTI. “Our system is under pressure from high demand and increasing production, particularly in the oil sands region,” says Graham White, spokesperson for Calgary-based Enbridge. “Most months the pipes are full.” As a result, Enbridge has resorted to rationing space on its network while it embarks on a $20-billion capital spending program to increase pipeline capacity across the continent. In the meantime, some oil sands producers, including Cenovus Energy Inc., have resorted to shipping crude by railcar, a far less economical mode of transport. About 8,825 rail cars were loaded with crude and other petroleum products last March, up from 5,600 cars a year earlier, according to Statistics Canada.

The pipeline squeeze is only going to get worse. A report by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce suggested that North American oil production is on track to grow at an “incredible rate” of 800,000 barrels a day, each year, through 2016, with more than half of that production expected to come from the U.S.

TransCanada’s 2,700-km Keystone XL pipeline was supposed to provide relief by giving producers a more direct link to the Gulf Coast, the largest refinery market in the world. But the White House refused to sign off on the cross-border chunk of the pipeline following protests over its planned route through the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region of Nebraska. That left TransCanada with approvals for only half a pipeline, connecting Cushing with refineries in Texas. That line, along with another Enbridge project to reverse the existing Seaway pipeline, also between Oklahoma and Texas, is expected to help reduce the Midwest glut. Andrew Potter, a CIBC analyst, argues that, even with both projects completed, the discount applied to WTI compared to the more international Brent crude price will still be about $10.

TransCanada has proposed a new route for the northern section of the Keystone XL, between Hardisty, Alta., and Steele City, Neb. But it’s far from a done deal, despite a recent approval by the state’s governor. Now, it must be approved by the U.S. State Department, which is soon to be headed by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. In a sign of the coming political battle, 10 U.S. governors and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wrote a letter to President Obama urging his administration to sign off on a project that’s “fundamentally important to the future economic prosperity of both the United States and Canada.” Another 53 U.S. senators have made a similar plea, citing jobs and U.S. energy security. But opponents say the American public still isn’t sold on the plan. “Right now the No. 1 customer of the oil sands has serious concerns about the product it’s receiving, based on the greenhouse gas emissions,” says Nathan Lemphers, an analyst with the Calgary-based Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank. The National Resources Defense Council noted Obama’s reference to the threat of climate change in his inaugural address and suggested: “If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea.”

Rising U.S. oil production and the possibility of energy self-sufficiency has given further ammunition to the anti-pipeline lobby. They have dubbed the Keystone XL an “export pipeline” for Canadian oil. Analysts, on the other hand, point out that oil is a global commodity, and that the system to refine it and deliver it to consumers is complex. That’s why the glut of North American crude hasn’t had much of an impact on gasoline prices in the U.S. and Canada (many refineries in the U.S. and Canada are supplied with more expensive foreign oil). It’s also why the boom in U.S. oil production from the Bakken, which produces a light sweet crude, is unlikely to dampen demand from U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, built to handle heavy crude—provided we can get it there.

Already, some oil sands operators are cutting back on investments in the face of mounting uncertainty. Suncor Energy Inc., for one, is considering whether to put on hold a proposed $11.6-billion upgrading facility, according to Bloomberg. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. expects to reduce spending on oil sands projects and Cenovus is forecasting a drop in cash flow due to lower prices paid for oil sands crude. “Some companies have slowed things down because they’re not getting the prices they need, and that’s because of the pipelines,” says Pierre Fournier, an analyst at National Bank Financial. The oil sands is at risk of becoming nearly as difficult to capitalize upon as it was a few decades ago.

The shifting U.S. public opinion surrounding the oil sands underscores the risks of being reliant on a single customer. Yet, efforts to get Canadian crude to overseas markets—namely Asia—have proven every bit as contentious as the Keystone XL, if not more so. Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project would pump diluted bitumen 1,177 km from northern Alberta to a shipping terminal in Kitimat, on the B.C. coast. From there, it would be loaded onto tankers bound for China.

In a region where the memory of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound lingers, the Northern Gateway proposal has raised new fears about plans for a steady stream of ocean-going tankers, laden with unrefined crude, navigating the narrow waterways connecting Kitimat with the Pacific—a journey that’s expected to take roughly 22 hours. Further risks are posed by the pipeline itself, which snakes through a region described as ecologically sensitive.

Both environmentalists and several First Nations groups have attempted to bog down a federal review process, with some success. Five protesters were recently arrested after sneaking into a joint-review panel meeting in Vancouver. Opponents point to a string of pipeline accidents, including a 2010 spill of an Enbridge line in Michigan, as evidence that the industry’s safety record is wanting.

It has put B.C. Premier Christy Clark in a difficult position. She hasn’t threatened to torpedo the project, but is demanding both top-notch safety measures and that the province receive its “fair share” of economic benefits. Alberta’s Redford, on the other hand, has ruled out any royalty sharing. Ottawa remains hopeful, despite the impasse. “I am still of the belief that we can get this done, on the assumption, of course, that it passes regulatory muster,” Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently told Postmedia News, referring to the federal review scheduled to be completed before year’s end.

Analysts aren’t holding their breath. CIBC’s Potter gives 50-50 odds that the Northern Gateway and another B.C. project, the $5.4-billion expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Vancouver, will be completed before the end of the decade. Lemphers, too, argues that it’s “highly unlikely” either West Coast pipeline project will go through. “You’re seeing an unprecedented level of opposition to these pipeline projects,” he says, noting that B.C. is scheduled to have an election this spring that could result in an NDP government even more hostile to the plans.

Desperation seems to be creeping into the discussion with increasingly fantastical solutions being offered up. Newspaper publisher and Victoria businessman David Black has proposed building a $13-billion oil refinery on the B.C. coast—the first new refinery built in Canada since 1984. The idea is to keep more of the oil sands’ value within Canada (and B.C. in particular) by selling pricier refined products like diesel and gasoline to Asian customers. Black argues a coastal operation has the added benefit of reducing environmental risk since gas and light oil spills are easier to mop up. Meanwhile, another group of businessmen is backing a $10.4-billion plan to construct a new, 2,400-km “purpose built” railroad to carry oil from Alberta to Alaska, where it could then be shipped overseas on tankers.

The oil sands industry, on the other hand, remains confident extra pipeline capacity will be built. “It’s going to be tight for the next few years, but pipeline companies can react,” says Greg Stringham, vice-president in charge of oil sands and markets for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Existing pipelines can be modified or expanded to handle additional loads, he says. One example is the proposed $5-billion conversion of part of TransCanada’s mainline system, which currently carries natural gas across the country, so that it could push synthetic crude eastward to refineries in Central Canada and the Maritimes. Another is Enbridge’s Line 9 project, which would reverse the flow of its pipeline, moving oil from Sarnia, Ont., to Montreal. With global demand for oil high, Stringham says producers will find a way to deliver it to customers one way or another.

If he’s wrong, Canada’s chance to take advantage of the resource could slip away. “It makes it a very risky proposition for investors if we don’t have access to key markets,” according to Hill. And the boom in U.S. oil and gas means that country could effectively be energy self-sufficient by 2030 (although most analysts believe the U.S. will continue to import Canadian oil), according to a recent BP report. Plus, U.S. producers have a cost advantage. National Bank’s Fournier estimates shale producers can make money when oil prices are in the $60 to $70 range, about $20 a barrel less than what the oil sands requires.

The new reserves in Canada’s biggest market could dampen prices for years to come. Add to that a pipeline crisis with no easy solution and deepening environmental fears, and it amounts to massive challenges that threaten what was once thought to be a North American energy panacea, not to mention Canada’s cash cow.

Fournier is taking issue with Ottawa’s recent pledge to prevent foreign state-owned companies from buying Canadian oil sands firms after allowing the controversial $15-billion takeover of Nexen Inc. by the China National Offshore Oil Corp. Stephen Harper said that, in the future, such deals would only be allowed in “exceptional circumstances.” The problem, Fournier wrote in a recent report, is that “the oil sands are facing exceptional challenges today. The massive resource is arguably more vulnerable than many would care to admit.”

The world’s existing energy superpowers need not look over their shoulders just yet.


Oil sands bust

  1. The most valuable resource in our country is people. Better to put us to work creating things of value to sell on the world market than turn us into migrant workers getting shipped off to remote parts of the country to work in open-pit mines.

    There is no future in dirty energy. Bad environmental policy is bad economics.

    (Canada should aspire to be more like Germany, not more like Russia…)

    • Ever been to the oil sands. Not all mines are open pit. And btw there are a lot of other things mined in this country that ARE open pit. Maybe time to look at some of those. How about industry in Ontario along the great lakes? Not pretty. And be like Germany? Hope you are not talking about their wind and solar energy. Boy oh boy, wouldn’t wanna pay those prices. If you are interested in Germany but don’t read german, one of their major papers has an english edition. Spiegel.de/international

      • Germany has a 6% GDP trade surplus founded on value-added exports. They have one of the (actual) strongest economies on the planet. Canada has a 3% GDP trade deficit and is a productivity laggard (#17 OECD.)

        I read Spiegel international on a regular basis. I don’t recall them dissing Germany’s commitment to renewable energy.

        • Their offshore windmills are quite expensive to maintain. Also if I remember correctly, they are still looking for a way to connect them to the grid. The solar energy didn’t work. A lot of those manufacturers went out of buisness, as they did in a lot of other countries

          • And yet apparently they employ over 200,000 people in the green sector. Guess that means they’re in landscaping or something.

          • Germany’s 1.3 million solar installations last year produced 28 terawatt hours of electricity – 45% percent more than in 2011 – solar industry association BSW says.

          • Let’s not forget that Germany also mines brown coal.

          • Twilight of an Industry: Bankruptcies Have German Solar on the Ropes

            By Stefan Schultz

            The German solar industry is at a
            turning point. The bankruptcy of Q-Cells this week shows that the days
            of German solar cell production are numbered. Asian competitors took the
            lead years ago, and German government subsidies were part of the

          • AB mines coal too. Where is its solar industry?

          • Didn’t you every learn not to ask a question when you aren’t sure of the answer. Obviously you have no idea how successful wind-turbine generated power is in southern Alberta. The entire City of Calgary powers all of its electrical needs using wind turbines that out on the bald prairie. That even includes the subway system. We also have communities in places like Okotoks that are renown for using solar, wind turbine power and geo-thermal heating. The way that Canada will reach goals for lowering carbon emissions won’t be by shutting down the “tar” sands but rather by lessening the dependence of so many Canadians on coal-generated electricity. The difference in the carbon foot print between the two is astounding. The fact that any country that continues to mine coal would chastise us for our “dirty oil” is beyond hypocrisy.

          • Do you ever post without a chip on your shouder or your heart on your sleeve for AB? You take a shot in the dark at Germany, but when i point out AB gets most of its utility power from coal and very little from renewables you get all defensive. Learn to give a shot and take a shot if you’re going to play the partisan game.

            “Germany’s 1.3 million solar installations last year produced 28 terawatt
            hours of electricity – 45% percent more than in 2011 – solar industry
            association BSW says.”

            Here’s the context. And you come back with Okotoks has some solar and renewables…good for them. Now talk about scale eh. Germany is way ahead of the pack. And they don’t have oil either..

            Yes, i can see Billy Bob posted something about German solar being bankrupt – he says a lot of other things too.

          • You and Emily are always partisan against Alberta so I get a little passionate in my defense of my home province where four generations of my family have lived.
            Germany tried to block Canada in the EU trade due to the high carbon footprint of bitumen. Meanwhile they are mining brown coal, which creates a phenomenally higher carbon footprint than any oil, even bitumen. I know they have no oil, they have something worse. Canada is at least trying to move away from coal-fired electricity. It was NO “shot in the dark”. It was a “I’m sick of the hypocrisy”.
            You want to show Alberta in the worst light possible. That must be why you ignored the City of Calgary operating on wind turbine energy and why you are mocking a community (Okotoks) that was featured on the CBC as a standout in Canada for its green initiative. I have no problem saying my province has a long way to go but let’s be honest about what’s really going on in the world and stop presenting things through rose-colored glasses. As for Billy-Bob posting something about German solar being bankrupt, are you posting something that says it isn’t?

          • As i said before, i’m not going to waste much time responding to you – someone who doesn’t fact check adequately.
            E may diss AB, but i lived there for 15 years or so. I like the place, the people. I’m through there several times a years still. My parents still live there. I defend it when i think it needs it. You can’t abide any criticism at all it would seem.
            Lots of opinions on renewables – it is complicated.
            Germany is trying too. Get your facts right. And ON is trying to get away from coal. AB not so much. Meanwhile the Harper govt actually weakens plans for regulating the utility industry. Get your facts right.
            I did ignore or mock anything. You just read into a post whatever you want.
            BB couldn’t even be bothered to give a link. Somehow i doubt it’s true. Enjoy the graphs in the link.

          • The City of Calgary most assuredly doesn’t power all of its’ needs via wind power. That is simply so much unicorn farts.
            First off, the major achilles heel of wind is that it cannot supply “on demand” power, unlike coal/natural gas or hydro. All of our power needs are “by demand”, which means that the grid operators can call upon any power plant operator and ask for more power or less. This can’t be done with wind power. Every coal plant knows how much coal is in the chute, and every hydro dam knows how many feet of water are above the turbines, and thus exactly how many megawatts they can supply and for how long. Wind and solar cannot provide this.
            Because of the capricious nature of wind/solar, they are unable to guarantee any more than a tiny percentage of their installled capacity to the grid. This means that the coal plants have to maintain enough heat in their systems to supply the 90%+ of installed capacity that the wind plants cannot guarantee. That means they are still burning coal to provide electricity they’re not selling. There is no carbon saving there.
            People forget, or don’t realize, that the wind power boom of the last 20 years has only come about due to massive injections of tax dollars and gaming of the electrical grid pricing system. In spite of major technical advances, it will always be a niche provider of electricity. Right now, even if wind mills were free, they would still not be profitable electrical providers if they were required to sell their electricity at market value.
            The cost of land and labor would still make them uncompetitive, and the environmental degradation of a wind farm is no less than a coal strip mine.
            Think about this: All of the installed wind and solar generation in North America is provides the equivalent of the 35th largest coal fired power plant in the USA. If you were to try and power Calgary and Edmonton on wind, you’d have to blanket Alberta with giant wind towers for as far as they eye could see from almost anywhere in the province, and none of us could afford the electricity they would generate.
            Meanwhile, a couple of oil sands mines, with a footprint about the size of Red Deer, are the biggest environmental nightmare on the planet?

          • Actually, Willard, the City of Calgary’s own website claims that since 2012 100% of its electricity requirements are supplied by renewable sources. I’ll leave it up to you, a man with too much time and too many opinions on his hands, to sort out the wheat from the chaff on this claim. It’s highly unlikely that it’s all being supplied from wind farms, however. My best guess would be that the bulk of it would be from domestic/imported hydroelectric sources.

          • Calgary’s claim to using “green” energy has long been that they power the C-Train with electricity provided by wind power. Wind power, when fed into the grid, is pooled. It simply becomes stray electrons. The City of Calgary can no more segregate the power it receives as being from wind farms than I can claim to boil spaghetti in water drawn only from what the Raven River feeds into our water supply. By paying a premium for wind power, which it does, Calgary is stealing from it’s own taxpayers and giving that money to wind farm investors who have been legislatively granted a guaranteed profit. It’s theft, and it’s an egregious assault on the concept of intelligent government.
            It’s stupid, stupid, stupid, as are those who advocate such.

          • Nice. Now if you could just support your rambling with something…..hmmm….now what might help……I just don’t……..OH WAIT, I’VE GOT IT……..facts. Preferably from a source that would actually have accurate information…..which would generally exclude your self-imagined GIANT BRAIN.
            Also, you would do well to train your sights on an elementary
            punctuation refresher course, and pay particular attention to the section on apostrophes.

          • Would you care to point out the inaccuracies in the above? I’ll wait.

          • Been waiting long, Shilliam?

            Are there inaccuracies? It’s hard to determine without supporting documentation/links – just your GIANT BRAIN flinging off claims like a wet-dog shake. Now as for incontrovertible mistakes: “…its own taxpayers”, not

          • Again, you make it so easy. Hard rule there girly. If you’re going to accuse someone of failing to substantiate their argument, you have to at least make an effort to refute their position. But, I’ve never accused you and your ilk of being much sharper than a marble.

          • Well, if you insist: Gill Breenwood, I refute your position.

            So exactly what “ilk” does your GIANT BRAIN believe is mine?

            P.S. It’s “Ms. Girly” to you, baldy.

        • German success i due in large part to the fact that much thier infrastructure is newer than ours

    • And one more thing. It is easy to make things look a lot worse than they really are by taking pictures during the coldest time of year. Any city,no matter how green, would look like this if you photographed it in the winter. Google pics of Danish towns on their coldest day

    • Exactly!

      Embarrassing that the writer would say the Tar Sands are a more valuable resource than the people of Canada. Just goes to show you how the right wing propaganda has infiltrated the minds of the media and public.

    • ron. I am German and have lived there for more than 39 year before i immigrated for Canada. Thanks for the flowers but it is not that black and white. The reason why our economy is strong and why we export so much is our ability to be innovative and knowledge driven. This alone though would not be enough to compete in a global economy as that requires constant work on competitiveness and productivity. The price for this was and is paid by the people with high taxes and compared to Canada low salaries in the public sector. Germany does not even have a minimum wage and all unions over the last 20 years were quite shy about wage increases as they knew that the jobs would just leave the country. Also, the green energy revolution there is heavily subsidized and unless Canadian’s are willing to pay 5-6 times as much for their energy bill than this is a dead end. In a global economy each country has something to bring to the table and for Canada it is its abundance in natural resources, which a lot of countries lack. It is what gives Canadians the lifestyle they enjoy and need. And resource extraction and environmental protection is not an either/or discussion – both can go hand in hand and be done smart. Feel free to listen to my interview about these topics here…http://www.classicrockcfnr.ca/journeys-alex-pietralla/

  2. BTW, all this talk about how Alberta’s bitumen sands will create “jobs, wealth and prosperity” (an Orwellian platitude if ever I heard one) for all of Canada is clearly nonsense. The price of oil dipped a little last year and suddenly Alberta has a $6B deficit. In fact, if the price of oil drops below $80/barrel Alberta is toast (a mid-1980s crisis all over again.)

    If Alberta can’t make it on bitumen, then clearly the rest of Canada can not live off of their bread crumbs. Time for a change.

  3. Again we’re confronted by the sheer absurdity of the world inhabited by the political left. The very same people who believe in and agitate for an all-encompassing kind of government (ie. the “green” socialists) are the very ones who work so diligently to prevent the kind of economic activity necessary to fund their socialist dream. Where do they propose to get all the tax dollars that they want to fund all their big-government fantasies?
    Ron Waller- what do you propose we build and sell to the world, and who do you think should develop these products? News flash- we’re trying, but we really need about 2/3 of our mostly useless governments to just get out of the way.

    • If dirty-energy was supplying the “economic activity” to fund “big government fantasies” the right-wing government in Alberta wouldn’t have a $6B deficit. Value-added goods and services create more GDP growth and raise productivity. Under Harper and his boneheaded plan to turn Canada into a resource super-power, productivity growth has fallen to record lows.

      Also, the economic growth coming out of the 2009 recession (3.2%, 2.5%, 1.9%) has produced the worst recovery in 50 years.

      BTW, the centrist economic policies of the post-war era created the biggest economic boom in history, creating modern living standards. Right-wing ideology over the past 30 years has caused debt and inequality to skyrocket and culminated in a second global economic meltdown (2008; the first was in 1929.)

      50 years of GDP growth in Canada

      • What created the post WWII boom was several million soldiers coming home and going to work. A complete absence of competition for North American industry. Retooling of a vast arms industry towards producing consumer goods. And lots of money being printed by various central banks.

    • People who think neo-cons are good economic managers don’t know the first thing about macroeconomics. Just look at the destruction Bush Jr. wrought on the US economy. Such people are also completely ignorant of economic history. (Free-market ideology crashed and burned in *two* global economic meltdowns: 1929 and 2008. Yet these ignoramuses claim this abject failure produces “economic activity.” How utterly absurd.)

      • Look… a lefty talking about economics! LOL

        • Look, a con crank can actually spell “economics.” (Probably used a spell checker…)

          • Look a lefty trying to come up with a snappy comeback! LOL

    • Anybody can selectively read and comment on an article.

      But to be realistic. Which group is probably the more influential power brokers in Washington DC: environmentalists or the domestic oil sector aiming to be the largest producer in the world within seven years?

      The LAST thing any oil men want is a glut. Price control requires that some producers are cleaved from the herd. The fact that the Alberta oil sands are dirtier in terms of input intensity or whatever else is but a convenient way to frame the picture for the audience. Its much easier to blame environmentalists than other capitalists.

      • Sask!
        Nicely done.
        It should have been obvious but I have not seen this point made anywhere.
        One the one side – companies that want to mine oil in Canada, refine it on the Gulf and ship it to China. On the other side – companies that want to mine it in the US, refine it in the US, use it in the US.
        Obama will have no trouble making that decision.

    • Guess Germany and the Nordic countries just got lucky!

    • Astonishing that anyone can say that leftist are responsible for any part of this mess.
      The next fiscal quarter corporatists have been in charge of the corporations and the government of Alberta for 40 years. The corporatist in chief, Harper the Economist, has been running the show in Ottawa out of the PMO without consultation with anyone left of Attila the Hun for 7 years.
      How much more right wing do we have to get to reach your right wing Nirvana?
      Would you be happy if we simply gave you all the money in the country?
      Perhaps for a week.

  4. Northern Gateway is a lost opportunity, oil sands product will end up being shipped west by rail to Prince Rupert’s deep sea port at Ridley Island and by rail to the Alaskan pipeline then through the port of Valdez. Add to that the expansion of the Kinder Morgan line to Vancouver.

    The Obama administration will approve the Keystone XL pipeline late April or early June, the unions and oil companies give far more in support to the Democrats than the environmental lobby. It’s the economy stupid.

    Oil sands product will also be flowing eastward to Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

    The bottleneck at Cushing will be easing up in the near future due to Enbridge’s pipeline projects.

    All in all positive moves for Canada and the industry.

    • I hope you are right. Tired of sitting at home waiting for a job opening in the oilsands where I have worked for several years, but got layed off before christmas

    • They should have gone for Rupert in the first place. Now even that town has a council hostile to a pipeline. Sheer industry and govt incompetence to get the backs of Northern BC up like that. And there’s no certainty KM will get its way either. Although that makes more sense than Kitimat ever did. Now they’ve run into nimby ism in Vancouver too.

      • It seems the US Environmental Agency isn’t so happy with BC’s plans to expand the Kootney coal mines which border Montana. It is amazing me how a province can be so disgusted with Alberta’s “dirty oil” but meanwhile be busily creating an even bigger carbon footprint by mining coal. If you need a source, you will find it in the Calgary Herald today. The US Environment Agency is filing a complaint.

        • I agree, it isn’t right. But in fairness the objections in BC toward the pipelines and AB’s oil go much deeper than… yuk! This tar stuff so so icky!
          A tanker accident off the north coast would be a catastrophe.

          • Tankers have been operating on BC’s entire coastline, including the north coast for decades without incident.

          • Not super tankers. There’s been a moratorium since the 70s that has kept them outside of the QC Islands.

          • The design vessels for the Northern Gateway project range from Aframax
            class (approximately 80,000 to 120,000 Deadweight Tons [DWT]), through
            Suezmax (120,000 to 200,000 DWT) to up to Very Large Crude Carrier
            (VLCC) class, which range up to 320,000 DWT.

            No ULCC’s or Ultra Large Crude Carriers, commonly referred to as “Super Tankers”.

            Panamax and Aframax tankers have been calling at the Port of Vancouver for decades, with Suezmax due by about 2016.

          • Calling at the port of Vancouver is not the same as threading the needle via Douglas channel to Kitimat. As far as I’m aware plans call for sailings from there at the rate of every 2to 3 days. Anyone familiar with winter weather conditions on the north/ central coast knows that’s asking for trouble eventually. Particularly as some of the route will pass through Hecate strait. I’m a sailor. Almost all that route creates lee shore conditions should there be trouble. It’s stupid.

          • Second Narrows in Vancouver Harbour is a much greater challenge than anywhere in Douglas Channel, First Narrows has it’s own nuances as well.

            The tankers would be transiting only the most southerly portion of Hecate Straight and the northern part of Queen Charlotte Sound south of Cape Caution.

          • Rubbish. I’ve been up through the inside passage at least a dozen times on the old Queen of the North which now lies on the bottom within spitting distance of where the tankers would pass. I haven’t sailed in Vancouver harbour, but what possible threat is second or first narrows beyond tidal or traffic issues?
            What’s more the outbound passage through JDF strait is a piece of cake to spots like terror point and the egress to Hecate. AND the winter weather is WAY more of a problem on the north coast than south.

          • The only place that is a real concern coming out of Douglas Channel are two course changes at the south end of Gil Island to transit outbound between Rennis and Campania Islands, other than that the you have a minimum of about eight or nine cables of channel width.

            The winter weather there, been there, done that lots as deckhand, mate and captain (no affiliation with BC Ferries)………..:-)

          • If you’ve done that you have to know that getting through there with a large tanker is way more of a challenge.[If it can happen to BC ferries it can happen to anyone.] They have to do this day in day out some 250 odd times a year. I’ve been through there in 50+ knot conditions too…after waiting 3 days for the Q of N to leave Skidegate. It’s nuts thinking you’ll never have a serious problem skirting Hecate, and all on a lee shore. Not that long ago a freighter of some size ran aground somewhere around PR in a big blow, and another lost power somewhere or other around the Hecate.
            The only reasonable routes might have been out through the Dixon entrance and head out to sea beyond the QCs…or as is done now – out through Juan de fuca and off shore again.
            There’s a very good reason Us tankers have been routed outside the Charlottes for some 40 odd years now. Because it works.
            Anyway, it was never going to happen[kitimat] w/o FNs say so. Now the coastal FNs have pulled out of the JRP that is less likely than ever.
            Whoever picked Kitimat must have just stuck a pin in a map for all the good it did them.

          • The Queen of the North incident has no bearing whatsoever on the proposed vessel operations for the Northern Gateway project.

            The tankers would have two Coast Pilots on board and have two escort tugs for the entire transit of Douglas Channel out past Rennis Island.

            The tankers going to Cherry Point in Washington and to California are VLCC’s and ULCC’s, they could never take the inside route, especially between Port Hardy and Campbell River, because of their sheer size, turning characteristics and stopping distances.

          • The sinking of the QofN does have a bearing. BC ferries has more fail safes than you can throw a stick at – still didn’t prevent human error; neither will pilots or tugs. Tows can be lost or screwed up.
            It’s after they exit DC and enter Hecate that we need to worry. Again all the country designated the Great bear rainforest sanctuary will be on a lee shore. The idea was nuts from the beginning.
            One possible compromise might have been to offer more summer sailings, less winter. Obviously this affects someone’s bottom line, so no go. Face it, this project is toast.

          • You have absolutely no idea of what you’re talking about,

            It’s all mute anyways, Northern Gateway is pretty much dead in the water, some oil will be going through Prince Rupert possibly by way of rail, but most will find tidewater at Valdez, Alaska by way of rail then through the Alaska pipeline.

          • Mute? Could you repeat that – I couldn’t hear you.

          • I should add that the, so called, tanker moratorium is just so much myth making perpetrated by Liberal/NDP/Green types.

          • It is Rennison island actually.

          • Been calling it Rennis for years, just like many call Aristazabal (aristibal) or Goose Island (the goose), big deal.

            You still sound like you flunked out of Power Squadron.

          • My reply’s gone. Briefly. Checked out sailing directions…nothing particularly bad 1st/2nd narrows.
            Lived in BB for 3 years. Been to Goose island several times. Never heard it called “the Goose” once. Never took a PS course. 15 years of sailing, all on first hand experience.
            In short don’t know if i believe you? Maybe you’re just handy with google?

          • Second Narrows has significant current from the Seymour River, the width of the rail lift bridge is also a concern for large vessels, there is precious little room there.

            You’ve never heard it called “the Goose”, because you’ve never made your living on the water, if you had you would have been monitoring VHF CH 11 (Prince Rupert VTS) and 06.

            You admit you’re an amateur, not surprised, no formal training either, even less surprised.

            Power boat sporties are annoying, most sail boaters are a joke, running under power with the jib up.

            Quite frankly, I don’t care what you believe, you still don’t know what your talking about.

          • First time i’ve taken a look at the blog on disqus. Are you actually voting yourself up and me down? I can’t imagine anyone is following all this? Cuz that would be a really anal thing to do….just say’n.

            By the way your sailing observation is a bit out. Almost everyone i know power sails under mainmast, if they aren’t sailing – rarely under jib and power unless in traffic where visibility is important, or close reaching. Stick to fishing. You’ll never get anywhere under sail.

          • “unless in traffic where visibility is important”…………………. seriously?

            Try looking up Rule 25 of the Collision Regulations.

            I’ve probably got more miles under sail as a kid than you have your entire life,

            I’ve commercial fished, worked tugs, yachts and tankers, all over the world.

            You know nothing, typical leftard.

          • Typical right wing moron. You’re all talk but when you get pulled up on even one little mistake or omission you get all defensive. I take it your admitting you posted yourself up and me down throughout this debate.No one but a bone fide troll would do that consistently. That’s why your so off the wall now. Typical dishonest deflecting conbot. I doubt you’ve done half of that stuff. Look at the rest of this blog…apparently you’re an expert economist, natural resource expert, and oil trader, and now fisherman and sailor too. I may not know squat about commercial fishing but i’m a tolerable sailor and a good recreational boater. The fact that you wouldn’t know there’s little or no point in motoring under jib – except when in a crowded seaway[ as in or around Harbour] tells me your a BS artist with a knack for research.
            Rule 25…how long did it take you to look that up sailor boy?

          • Ahhhhhh, poor little leftist got his knickers in a knot.

            I like to keep current on range of topics, especially when they relate to my investments.

            The fact is many sporty sailors motor under sail and think that they still have the right of way over power driven vessels, that would be idiot’s like you.

            I’m a licensed captain, you’re not, nor will you ever be.

          • Whatever. I think you lie pretty good though.

          • More like a licensed bull sh*tter.

          • By the way, how does that bait taste?

  5. Could have been easily selling it to fellow-Canadians for over 30 years by now….but noooooo

    No sympathy.

    • MONTREAL – Quebec’s environment minister is expressing reservations
      about private-sector plans to import crude from Alberta’s oil sands to
      Montreal refineries, insisting Quebec will retain sovereignty over its
      land no matter what is decided by federal regulators.

      Speaking to reporters in Quebec City Wednesday, Daniel Breton would
      not say outright if his Parti Québécois minority government opposes
      plans by Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corp. to ship Alberta oil
      eastward to Montreal. Rather, he attempted to flex a little muscle by
      saying nothing will move forward without Quebec’s blessing.

      • Irrelevant. Noooooo sympathy.

        • Sure Emily…………………roll eyes.

          • This is why I have no sympathy….deliberate, willful ignorance, yet an insistence on telling everyone else what to do.

          • Newsflash-more than half of the crude oil received by Ontario comes from Western Canada

          • Newsflash….we buy most of our oil from elsewhere….we can buy all of it from elsewhere. And from people with better manners.

            Over 30 years later….you guys still suck at marketing.

          • Is that what happened to Ontario’s car manufacturing? Funny how there was all kinds of sympathy in the form of “bailout dollars”.

          • Noop….different situation. But I had no sympathy for them either.

            I had said for years Ontario should stop counting on car plants. Branch plants at that.

            However, Ontario is diversified, so we were able to take the hit.

          • Ontario is now a have not province.

          • Well, we’ve supported you long enough.

          • Like with the NEP?

          • Nope….you don’t know your provincial history very well. Carried you through the Depression for one.

            At one point you were even trying to print your own money…..and you got ‘funny money’ premiers out of it.

            If you’d gone with the NEP, you’d have had money coming in for over 30 years now instead of having product you can’t give away.

          • The biggest lie of all is that central Canada helped Alberta
            during the dirty thirties. Ain’t so. The Government of Alberta went hat
            in hand to central Canadian banks to restructure Alberta’s debt, and
            they sought loan guarantees from the Government of Canada to take to
            the central Canadian banks. Both the central Canadian banks and the
            Canadian government turned Alberta down flat.

            Things got so bad that by 1938, there was talk of merging Alberta,
            Saskatchewan, and Manitoba into one province, and the three Maritime
            provinces into another.

            But the legend of central Canada’s helping Alberta when the
            province was down and out is just that: a legend, a fiction that some
            occasionally find useful for their own purposes.

            When Ernest Manning succeeded William Aberhart as Alberta’s
            premier in 1943, he went elsewhere for financing to a consortium of New
            York City banks led by Chase Manhattan. Chase Manhattan was only too
            glad to take the risk, and Alberta proved to be good for it. Leduc No.
            1 kicked off the Alberta oil industry in 1947, and Ernest Manning
            created a system of oil leases and royalties that is a model throughout
            the world, including in such far-flung oil producers as Azerbaijan.

          • Yeah you were helped. Kids even sent their pennies, which in those days was a big deal.

            I know you want to believe fantasy….but no…..

          • You are nuts.

          • Well, continue to live in your fantasy. I don’t mind.

          • If you haven’t read Robert Mansell’s analysis of how much money —
            both real and lost — the NEP sucked out of Alberta, you should. I
            think the total came to something like $135 billion.

          • More of your ‘victim mythology’

          • Facts are wasted on this troll who calls itself Emily.

          • When you get some facts, let me know. Because I’m not into fairy tales.

          • Sure you are……….lollipops, fairy tales and unicorns, that’s Emily’s world.

          • Hey, if you don’t like it ‘Billy Bob’….separate.

          • Hey Billy Bob….go on calling people names, and believing in your nonsense….we know you’ll be back with your hand out in short order.

            Better yet….separate and take your myths with you.

          • Hello Billy Bob and EmilyOne, If you are still reading this, your Ontario, Alberta battles have been interesting to read. So to were valuable information about wind power, coal, oil and solar. Solar Energy is being extensively developed in Morocco, Algeria if you look up the Desertec Consortium – A German and U.S. group, the plants that are already up and running and more being developed in these sunny hot regions, will hopefully provide up to 40% of Germany’s engergy and other European countries by 2050. Solar Engergy is used in Canada, and even with cloudy skies it can be further developed. Any way you slice it, climate change is upon us and unless a sixfold change occurs globally and quickly then within 90 years there will be drastic changes to this planet. Shortages of fresh water, droughts on a larger scale, higher oceans and the resultant havoc on human settlements and quality of life. So, we need energy yes, but collectively (and we do not think long term or very often collectively) unless there is more political will for saner energy policies the news is not good. Whomever wrote that the bitumen oil is the size of Red Deer (cannot remember exactly the name of the town) was wrong. According to a documentary about it H2o Oil the area amounts to the size of England. Which is a large amount of territory. Worldwide our industries and consumer lifestyles which include the creation of many objects we do not really need, is causing great destruction worldwide. So this arguing about Alberta and Ontario energy while a game for you, has greater implications. Daniel Breton was an activist, and now he is no longer a Cabinet Minister in Quebec. And coming from Quebec, in Montreal, apparently Alberta oil will be cheaper than the imported oil from Venezula and other countries. In any case, the fossil fuels, oil, coal, etc. is destroying the environment. One only has to look at photos of Beijing and horrific smog there now that China’s economy industrialised even more,and people in Beijjing bough cars, ending up in more smog, and traffic. We are all in the long term victims. Once again, unless world wide political change wills legislative changes, that companies must adhere to, and people have to make significant lifestyle changes. Otherwise the result will be one of draughts, islands dissapearing, population migrations, agricultural lands dissapearing or having to relocate, extinction of animal species, shortages of drinking water, etc. etc. Alberta and Canada may well have been better off without the bitumen development, but it is a done deal that will continue. As we do need oil, a very polluting energy source, as many can be.

          • The area where bitumen is extracted by mining is roughly the size of Red Deer, and is very similar to the strip mining of coal. That disturbed ground is then reclaimed back to a semi-natural area. Yes, the region that encompasses the oil sands is about the size of England, but aside from the modest area being mined, the oil from the bulk of the region will be extracted using conventional directional drilling and some form of in situ process to liquefy the oil and bring it to surface.

          • You’re out of your mind.

          • Another gem of Albertan salesmanship

          • With your manufacturing down the drain it is for Alberta money via Ottawa.

          • Well manufacturing isn’t down the drain….but even if it was we aren’t dependent on it like Alberta is dependent on oil. The Ontario economy is diversified….the way Alberta’s should be.

            Ontario contributes 40% of the GDP, Alberta contributes 16%….so cease with this myth that you are somehow supporting us.

          • 99% of Albertans have no clue that Alberta was a have-not Province until 1947, and again from 1957-1965.

          • Apparently not! Living on these myths about their financial brilliance is gonna kill them though.

          • With `right to work` in Michigan, there will be more moving there, not only the GM cars.

          • If people want to work for coolie wages, it’s up to them.

          • I bet they will, and there goes Ontario 40%.

          • Why on earth would anyone making good money here, move to the US to work for cheap?

            Do you even think about what you post?

          • They will not move, just the jobs will. Apparently you don`t know much about economy.Today Ontario made cars are the most expensive in the world.

          • Sigh….the jobs aren’t moving to the US either. They’re disappearing.


            To China….and to robots. Where the hell have YOU been?

          • I have been in a real world, Emily, it`s you who must keep yourself in some ivory tower.Not everything is made in China, and even robots need some people around.Read papers more carefully.

          • You are not remotely close to the real world. You’re a tree monkey talking smack.

          • Now who`s calling people names…….

          • It’s not a name, it’s a fact.

          • Are you calling Alberta “the centre of the universe”?
            Funny we could say the same thing about the collapse of Ontario’s manufacturing….

          • More like the armpit considering the mess you’ve made of it.

          • Wow Emily, tell us what you really feel.

          • Photos all around the world….I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.

          • The oil sands are what’s keeping what’s left of Ontario’s manufacturing alive.

          • LOL no it’s not….yer weird.

      • It’s a minority govt. That can change quickly.

    • At a reduced price you mean?

      • Well if you want world price….there is no reason to buy it from you.

  6. The USA needs Canadian oil in the long term;

    U.S. dependence on imported liquid fuels continues to decline in the AEO2013 Reference case, primarily as a result of increased domestic oil production. Imported liquid fuels as a share of total U.S. liquid fuel use reached 60 percent in 2005 before dipping below 50 percent in 2010 and falling further to 45 percent in 2011. The import share continues to decline to 34 percent in 2019 and then rises to about 37 percent in 2040, due to a decline in domestic production of tight oil that begins in about 2021

  7. From the American Petroleum Institute;

    The United States and Canada enjoy the largest trading partnership
    across the longest peaceful border in the world. Getting more U.S.
    energy from a friendly North American neighbor would reduce U.S.
    reliance on energy resources from less stable regions, create American
    jobs, while enhancing domestic energy and national security. The
    Keystone XL pipeline expansion would provide a significant boost to U.S.
    energy security, bringing an extra 830,000 barrels of oil per day to
    U.S. refineries. With the pipeline, our crude imports from Canada could
    reach 4 million barrels a day by 2020, twice what we currently import
    from the Persian Gulf.

    Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, now in its fourth year of
    review, could also create 20,000 construction jobs over the life of the
    project. Projects like this, along with additional investment in oil
    sands development in Canada and expansion of pipelines and refineries in
    the U.S. make it possible to realize an additional 500,000 U.S. jobs in

    The U.S. government’s own environmental review indicated that the
    Keystone XL pipeline would “have a degree of safety over any other,”
    offering a safe, practical way to bring more Canadian oil to U.S.
    refineries. This is good for consumers, good for U.S. jobs, good for
    energy and economic security and certainly serves our national interest.

  8. First, this is NOT Canada’s oil. It is Alberta’s oil. The gains for Canada is minuscule compared to the gains for Alberta.So, why is so much of federal government resources put into solving Alberta’s problems when the province is doing so little for themselves?

    Second, why are billions still given to the oil companies in subsidies and tax breaks?

    • transfer payments

      • not to mention corporate taxes and individual taxes paid for by oil sector employees.

  9. “It was music to Albertans’ ears.” The largest unlined toxic waste dumps in the entire room is hardly music to all Albertans’ ears. Speak for yourself, don’t put words in my mouth.

  10. If a maritimer working in the oil sands gets cancer, which province will pay his medical bills – Alberta or the home province?

    • A lot of people not working there get cancer…whats your point? How can you prove your cancer is from there? And if you are so worried about it, don’t go work there.

  11. As i read this the likely coming US self sufficiency in oil will essentially mean the oil sand is up the creek w/o a paddle. Even if we could get all that tarry crap out to world market, and to the east, displacing overseas oil. it must follow that there will be at some point an oversupply of crude available on the world market. Particularly if they go ahead and dig up half of Venezula.China/Russia hasn’t tapped its fracking potential yet either. Fracking has changed everything so don’t go hanging all of this around the necks of FNs and folks who worry about CC.
    There must inevitably be some down ward pressure on world prices[ unless we see a return to boom times?] This has got to put the squeeze on oil sands, both from an environmental perspective and a cost to produce it. So my question is, given how small and tight the oil patch is, why didn’t the captains of industry, the geniuses in Calgary see some of this coming at them? That isn’t the fault of radicals and stroppy natives.

    And it may only get worse. If Fracking gets the green light across Canada at some point too, then costs alone are likely to drive the tar sands to the wall.

    Boo hoo! Serve AB right for basically putting all its chips on one number – fast tracking raw bitumen exports out of the province. They should have heeded the advise of the late Mr Lougheed.

    • Alberta has learned nothing from their oil-price crisis in the mid-1980s. Probably because they used the NEP as a scapegoat ignoring the reality that relying entirely on oil exports was the real problem.

      • Exactly.
        People from Alberta become incoherent when anyone suggests that there are reasons other than the NEP for the problems back then.
        Never able to think really clearly beyond the next fiscal quarter, the NEP completely blows their minds.
        How can people who are quite clever is many ways become so stupid in others?

  12. .
    In 2009, Alberta oil production was about 1.9 million barrels per day of crude oil (1.5 million from oil sands). Of this, about 1.5 million barrels per day was exported to the U.S., supplying 15% of its crude oil imports.

    With total exports to the U.S. of 1.9 million barrels per day in 2008, Canada is the largest crude oil supplier to the U.S., ahead of Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela.

    Alberta’s remaining oil sands production was distributed within Alberta and to the rest of Canada. More than half of the crude oil received by Ontario comes from Western Canada.

  13. Generally speaking it is too
    petty seeing that oil is used for cheap and non-noble applications. It is time
    to really switch to Renewable Resources. If Canada invests the same efforts in
    Renewables as it is doing in current short-term fossils, Canada will be really
    STABLE on the long term. However, Mr. Harper is, in my opinion, has a short
    sight for things like that. (Heck, he even closed the Parliament for couple of
    month during his time, Canadians are in deep debt in terms of owing $1.6 to
    each $1 owned, and he even (overnight in a panic reaction) closed the embassy
    of Iran in Ottawa, and to top it up: he is collaborating with the State of
    Israel on international terrorism and letting the commando for this
    collaboration being dictated out of Tel Aviv (that is really and not a joke);
    and last but not least: The Foreign Politics in Canada is thinking to merge
    with the Foreign Politics of England :) and that on the initiative of UK
    administration just to drop costs of Common-Wealth representations down. Well
    then, Cheers Canada!

  14. I am not too worried about the oil glut. The great thing about free market economics is that it sorts things out as long as it is left alone to do so. If not enough pipeline capacity is available, more will be build or more rail will be used or more refining capacity will be built. And if eco-phreaks and modern day luddites manage to shutdown all our oil industry (or at least the expansion of it) capital and skilled labour will simply move somewhere else. I can invest anywhere in the world now and my skills are in demand overseas. I doubt I am alone in that thinking. If lefties want to make their living serving coffee to a few rich tourists who come north in the summer to look at the great natural park they have created… let them.

    • Other than oil, and the future ‘potential’ of water, our ‘resource industries’ are tanking. It’s far cheaper to gut the third world right now, but our turn will come … again.
      By that time the ‘forward thinkers’ should be slavering to sell us down the river once more.

      Hewers of wood and drawers of water – and thinkers of wonderful opportuniies to make a fast buck from the work of others. Only in Canada you say? Not quite. It’s a life lesson learned from ‘the worthy’, by ‘the worthy’. One percent – the ‘natural elite’ – in life and in motorcycle clubs – ‘me-first’ shit, in a suit.

      • Hey. I am a Forward Thinker and am not in favour of exploiting the resources no matter what to make rich people richer. A real froward thinker is able to look beyond immediate gartification to see long term consequences and make reasonable decissions.

  15. When the Alberta version of the North Sydney tar ponds become visible from space, maybe we can get it on the loonie or make a 3D postage stamp out of it. Something ‘creative’ to remind ourselves that we’re entirely capable of blighting our half of the continent so the folks in the other half have the cheap oil they need to help them ‘rule the world’.

    Good thing more ‘real Canadians’ don’t have to live there to make a buck.

  16. Bitumen is not crude. It is so corrosive and toxic it needs new pipes, new refineries, …

    Alberta should have forced the oil companies to build upgraders 20 years ago –
    remove the corrosive and toxic components at source. If should have forced the use of nuclear rather than natural gas in the extraction process – reduce the carbon footprint of its product. It should have done everything possible to prevent a situation in which the product shipped is distinguished by its toxic nature and its high carbon footprint.

    Instead it allowed itself to be guided by loser arguments like those being put forward by tar sands apologists in these comment forums even today.

    Instead, Alberta let the corporations lead.

    The Alberta tar pits, like the La Brea tar pits, will contain the metaphoric bones of the oil patch executives, oil patch economists, Alberta politicians, Reform/Conservative politicians at the federal level and comment forum fanboys – all of whom followed the short term thinking path into a quagmire.

    • It is not any more corrosive or toxic than other crude oil. A complete fallacy perpetrated by eco phreaks. No pipeline company would allow a product into their system if it were going to seriously damage it beyond what is normal.

      • Ignorance is bliss and you are one happy camper.

        Google Kalamazoo and discover why that leak was far more toxic than any other normal crude spill.

        If you had spent any time reading about diluted bitumen you would not be demonstrating your knee jerk faith in corporations in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

        Are you are a climate change denier too – “the big oil and coal companies would not insist we continue to dump carbon into the atmosphere if it was bad for us”

        • And you can’t fix stupid.

          I work in the oil & gas business as an inspector. I have inspected thousands of miles of pipe over the course of my life. Bitumen does not… I repeat… DOES NOT… erode or corrode pipelines any faster than any other crude oil.

        • And you can’t fix stupid.

          I work in the oil&gas business as an inspector. I have inspect thousands of miles of pipe over the course of my life. Bitumen does not… I repeat… DOES NOT… erode or corrode pipelines any faster than any other crude oil.

          Crude oil is toxic? Wow… you are the shiniest shoe in the store aren’t you. So are a lot of other products that are shipped by pipeline. So what is your point?

  17. Harper spent 6 years sabotaging international agreements to deal with climate change, for nothing ? Were going to go extinct without becoming rich first ? macleans whistles Dixie

  18. Firstly, Alberta’s position that they will not revnue sare is rediculous. It is based on the contention that it is thier resource and thus all revenue should go to them. I agree that the price they can get currently should be thiers but when they suggest the BC take risks to its economic and environmental well being to add value, the benifit of the diference in price should flow to BC. It is a basic principle of Capitalism that those who take the risk should reap the benifit of those risks. Alberta is taking little risk but wants all the increased benifit. That speaks to Clarks demand for a fair share. While she has done a poor job of communicating this to Alberta and the ROC, she is right according to Capitalist principles.
    Having said that, how much environmental risk is too much risk? What is the fair share of the added value BC should get? A moderate spill into our coastal waters or spawning streams can cost the BC economy dearly and the damage may be permanent. Who compensates BC industry and the Province for the lost jobs and revenues resultig from the destruction of tourismand fishing?
    Secondly, does the oil need to extracted at an increased rate or should it be spead over a longer term? Why not address the concerns about bitumen by upgrading. Some profit is better than none and refined or upgaded product is easier on the environment.
    Finally, Threats to use a more polluting method, Rail or truck, seems to be bullying to me and just makes most moderates dig in thier heals. Instead of threats, it seems to me that Alberta should be turning down the retoric and start trying to find willing partners either to the east or west. Most in BC would be willing to help our fellow westerners realize thier interests if Alberta would just negotiate a fair deal to address the concerns. I am not neccessarily talking about royalties here, but perhaps a binding agreement to cover all damage and reimburse all losses in the event of an accident. That would mean a long term committment to pay all lost revenue forever if neccessary.
    If Alberta loses in this it is due to demanding too much without offering any compensation.

  19. Sorenson states that “Enbridge Inc.’s $6-billion Northern Gateway, faces opposition from the green lobby…” Green lobby? If this story was accurate, he would state that Northern Gateway faces opposition from “nearly every single person in British Columbia”..and therefore will never be built.

  20. This article states “Global demand for oil has never been higher” but this conflicts with the facts! Bitumart reports that in December China’s demand for bitumen dropped 7% and India’s demand for bitumen dropped by 28%. The U.S. oil demand fell to the lowest
    level in 16 years in 2012 as economic growth weakened while
    domestic output surged the most in more than 150 years, the
    American Petroleum Institute. Where is the evidence to show the world’s demand for oil is increasing?

  21. you guys are all blowing to much hot air ?

  22. Biily Bob
    Read this report it will help you with your comments and debate on the folly of Alberta and Ottawa on energy policy


  23. The Harper fascination with exporting raw materials rather than refining and building at home is the typical short-sighted political view of the world, that ignores long term for a quick political fix. And why, pray tell, even talk about building refineries on the coast. If they must be built (IF) then build them on the land already destroyed by digging the stuff out in the first place, and ship the finished products. Why is this rocket science?

  24. I live 100 meters from the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in Abbotsford. There have been 78 spills from this 59 year old pipeline and 2 of them have been here in Abbotsford. They have both occurred since Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline in 2005. In the US Kinder Morgan has a very poor safety record according to the US Transportation Safety Board investigations. The source of the 2005 spill was not found for 7 days and first responders were not informed of the potentially toxic chemicals in the product according to the Canadian Transportation Safety Board investigation. The Jan 2012 spill caused nausea, headaches and dizziness in residents and school children. The National Energy Board report found that Kinder Morgan staff in Edmonton ignored three alarms over six hours (similar to the Enbridge Keystone Cops 2010 Kalamazoo spill) Since Feb. 2012 Cenovus has been shipping toxic diluted bitumen aka “Christina dilbit” which contains cancer causing PAHs such as benzine for export to China. There is NO 24/7 monitoring along the 1150 kms of this pipeline between Edmonton and Burrard Inlet. In addition, there are NO regulators who have the backs of humans or the environment. This pipeline travels over 98 streams, the Fraser River, two aquifers,ground water, farmland worth $2 billion / year = 12,000 local jobs in the Fraser Valley as well as under school playgrounds. Unless and until Kinder Morgan and Enbridge and all other pipeline corporations address the current significant risks to human health and the environment, there must not be any expansions or new pipelines built anywhere. For more details see http://www.pipeup.net

  25. last year a record number of cars were sold. The deals are appetizing, because the prices were good, warranties are awesome, so they sold like hotcakes, BUT, (the famous word) when it comes to put fuel in that vehicle, well it’s another story, that’s the when “appetite” gets bitter. Make up your minds, you want to, or you don’t want to! It’s as confusing as Quebec’s french language!

  26. Yes, layoffs are happening here in Calgary.

  27. Tar sands are just a frt in the wind compared to natural gas reserves around the world. China now claims the largest reserves in the world followed by the us. Who is Canada going to sell dirty oil to once the price of natural gas drops and stays down. Just need to convert cars to lng and bingo bad investment for Canada. That combined with improved battery technology and increased electrical car use and means our leaders should have spent more time looking to the future rather than the short term investments.

    See that diagram up above of the KEYSTONE PIPELINE (not the Keystone XL pipeline). Notice how it first runs to Manitoba, and then goes down to the U.S. ? Well, just dig it up and lay beside it the new LARGER pipes that you have for the XL pipeline. Since the original smaller Keystone pipeline has already been approved then it would be really easy to simply follow that route and lay the new pipeline a few feet away from the already existing pipeline. Then from Cushing it would only take a small extension of the pipeline to reach the Texas refineries. SIMPLE.
    If that won’t work, then just build a pipeline through Canada to lake superior and then use great lakes freighters to carry oil to refineries in Eastern Canada, that would get around time constraints with building a pipeline all the way to the East Coast of Canada.
    So get off your butt and stop arguing about this and start building it now, geez.