Will Big Oil catch a big break? - Macleans.ca

Will Big Oil catch a big break?

Ottawa considers giving oil industry permits to pollute


Some new fodder for the Canada-bashers in Copenhagen: Ottawa is considering granting the oil industry some extra leniency when it comes to climate-change regulations. Alberta’s export-driven oil industry has asked the Canadian government to grant it the kind of relief that the U.S coal industry will likely receive from its government. Nothing has been finalized, but Environment Minister Jim Prentice hasn’t ruled out giving the industry permits to exceed emissions caps. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers  president David Collyer stresses that the “trade-exposed” oil sands need protection from environment regulations. “We need to make sure that climate policy doesn’t disadvantage the oil industry in terms of competitiveness.” Between 2006 and 2020, output from the oil sands is expected to triple.

The Globe and Mail

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Will Big Oil catch a big break?

  1. Or in other words: Please don't make us have to clean up our own messes! It'll be expensive and we much prefer leaving it to you guys.

    • Yeah yeah, we're Albertans. There is no mess to clean up.
      But I'll bet you that, when the time eventually comes that the mess can no longer be ignored, the money we might have set aside for that, for diversifying our economy and anything else we'll still need in 2020 will not be available.

  2. Over my dead body.

    • That's a bit dramatic Andrew (not Potter or Coyne) don't you think?

      • I was thinking, 'that could be arranged'.Ho ho ho

      • No, it's not. I'll be damned if Alberta oil companies will be given a multi-billion dollar windfall gain in order to continue polluting. It's not fair and it doesn't make a drop of sense.

        • So giving it to a dictator wanting a new car and personal helicopter makes sense?

          • Andrew said he didn't want to give it to the oil companies.

          • No, give it back to Canadians in the form of tax cuts.

  3. I didn't see a "please".

  4. C'mon now folks – Albertans have been very decent and relaxed about sharing their windfall weath the country, and have been nothing but supportive of the federation. We can cut them a little slack, I think.

  5. "Trade exposed" is the real issue – which means that your product/production is at risk of being supplanted by a cheaper producer. Hardly the case when world demand for oil is increasing – and with limited new supply, the price has/will continue to rise.

    Also, when you build dedicated pipelines and retrofit your refineries in the US specifically to handle Alberta bitumen/crude it isn't exactly "trade exposed". And even if there was a significant differential with Saudi crude or whatever (once you factor in transportation etc) security of supply has economic value – probably more than to offset any higher production costs. Oil sands companies are hardly close to being only marginally profitable.

    Also, if there is a significant differ

  6. How about instead of giving Alberta a permit to pollute.. let's not give them a permit at all.

    In fact, let's not even require them to need a permit.

    And let's do it with the only reason being to spite the environmentalists.

  7. Is the city of Victoria still dumping raw sewage into the ocean?
    Is Ontario still storing nuclear waste beside the lake?
    Is Ontario still burning coal to generate power?

    Gee, I wish I was as squeaky clean as everyone in BC and Ontario.I suppose Quebec would bleat the loudest, because their free day care for hordes of kids would have to be nixed.

    • So you're saying Alberta should be given free reign to pollute as much as they want? They now exceeed the airborne toxic emissions of any other province.
      OPG is decommissioning the Lambton and Nanticoke coal plants by the way (the only ones in the province) and replacing the capacity with a new Hydro project at Niagara, possibly) two new nuclear units at Darlington, and (hopefully not) a natural gas GS in Oakville. I mean at least we're doing something other than lobbying government for more permission to pollute.
      The reason nuclear waste is stored by a lake (Huron) is because that is where the Bruce Nuclear plant is located. Would you rather it be stored somewhere else, maybe in the wilderness or among the public? Western Waste Management is one of the best facilites of its kind in the world.
      It's easy to make money when you're sitting on millions of barrels of oil. Even easier when it's on a remote tundra where few people can't see what kind of damage its extraction is causing. Pointing your finger at other provinces while you dump heavy metals into Lake Athabasca does not bring us any closer to a solution.

  8. Finally, life goes on after the Copenhagen, global warming fiasco. Jobs, money and fuel, bring it on!

  9. Obama is giving the US coal industry, which has 40 times the carbon footprint of the oilsands essentially a free pass. Canadiian "environmentalists" should go read the Obama-Markey-Waxman bill. I

    The oilsands in Canada can easily live with whatever Obama imposes on the US coal industry.

    Ontario manufacturing cannot remain competitive with American manufacturing if Canada is tougher on the oilsands than Obama is on coal.

    And Obama is currently the Prince of Coal. Coal is the fuel of the blue states (i.e. the Democrats). Natural Gas is the fuel of the red states (the Republicans).

    Obama-Waxman-Markey are also pro-coal in that they are anti-natural gas, a much less carbon emitting fuel on an energy equivalent basis. The Democrats and Obama are attacking and undermining the US natural gas industry with anti drillling and fracing legislation, which is because they are for coal.

    • Ontario manufacturing cannot remain competitive with American manufacturing if Canada is tougher on the oilsands than Obama is on coal.

      Can you explain this piece of logic please?

      • If the cost to mfg a products, using coal energy is less than the cost of using oil,
        manufacturers can sell their product cheaper in the US and leave Cdn mfg in the position of having to drop their price and thusly their profits.
        That happens and Cdn jobs will be cut or moved to the US.

        • Just think of why Cdn taxpayers had to fork out $13 Billion into one Ontario industry,
          the auto industry, just to keep it alive.

          As an Albertan forced to become a shareholder in the Ontario auto industry
          I find McGuinty's attack on the oilsands just a wee bit rude.

          And Charest…..wanting to make the ghg target impossible for Alberta and Sask to meet,
          is just another pay cheque for the self inflicted have nots.
          How else do Quebecers pay for their decisions?
          Gotta get some big cash for that new power purchase!!

        • wilson, you really don't know what you are talking about, demonstrated once more. The world price for oil SETS the cap for what oil sands producers get. Alberta is a price taker, not a price setter.

          And can you give me a list of manufacturers that use coal or oil as their heating fuel in Ontario, pls?

      • US manufacturing in the blue states uses electricity from coal, which is getting a free pass from Obama-Waxman-Markey, which means US manufacturing is getting a huge break because their electricity rates will be subsidized compared to Ontario manufacturing.

        Obama is NOT Canada's friend. Look at his refusal to do anything about Buy America, which hurts Ontario manufacturing the most.

        Obama and the Democrats are pro-coal, anti-natural gas, anti-Quebec hydro (which under Waxman Markey does not qualify as green energy if sold in the US).

        • Ontario is shutting down its coal fired plants by 2014 I believe is the latest target. This will happen irrespective of what happens at Copenhagen, or in the US through Waxman-Markey, and has absolutely nothing to do with if/how the oil sands are treated.

          Your other comments are irrelevant to your original points.

          • How the inputs costs to US blue state manufacturing (i.e. electricity from coal) not relevant to the competiveness of Ontario manufacturing?

            If Obama-Waxman-Markey gives electricity from coal a free pass, that means US blue-state manufacturing is being subsidized, putting Ontario manufacturing at risk.

          • What you are assuming is that electricity input costs are significant enough to drive an investment decision. There are many factors including exchange rates, productivity, labour rates, transportation corridors, gov taxes.

            Here's a list of coal consumption by state. http://www.nma.org/pdf/c_use_state.pdf

            Here's a list of electricity costs by state: http://www.neo.ne.gov/statshtml/115.htm

            Pick a state and we'll compare rates with/without a carbon tax on coal, and see if it would affect Ontario's manufacturers. (btw if your theory held true – all of manufacturing plants in Ontario would relocate to Quebec where electricity rates are lower)

          • And here's manufacturing costs by category – all of Canada – energy costs only 4%. You can pull down the menu to get energy costs by specific sectors.

            Manufacturing Costs by Category

            In general, the three most important categories for manufacturing costs are:

            * cost of materials and supplies; [84%]
            * cost of energy, water and vehicle fuel; and [4%]
            * production worker wages. [12%]

            Manufacturing costs in the Manufacturing sector were dominated in 2007 by the costs of materials and supplies. Considering these costs are the major factor in its manufacturing activities, this sector is vulnerable to any fluctuation in the prices of materials and supplies.


          • You are only considering direct energy costs. There is an indirect energy cost in every line item. In the cost of materials and supplies. In the cost of water. In the cost of workers wages.

            i.e. There are direct energy costs and indirect or embedded or hidden energy costs..

            Obama's Presidency depends on coal states. Most coal states are Democratic.

            The oilsands are a manufactured distraction by Democrats to keep enviornmentalists from focusing on the US coal industry, by creating an external bogeyman.

          • State and industry please.

  10. The oil sands get a bad rap because it's a clustered development. Spread it around the whole region a little more and it's harder to pick on. The open pit mining phase will possibly be replaced by in-situ extraction in the near future if research brings the heat and water requirements down.
    Wasn't long ago that the oil shale from the central western states was being considered for mining. Venezuela is another area of possible oil sand extraction when conventional runs scarce.
    Alberta is methodological testing ground for much more than just one cold northern town.

  11. "Ottawa considers giving oil industry permits to pollute"

    CO2 is not pollution, so if they are talking about real pollution, they should make that clear.

  12. Some of the comments here are a joke. You folks are fifty years too late. There isn't a fresh drink of ground or flowing water to be had in Alberta. Every drop has a sulphuric taste. The northern oceans have been so heavily polluted with effluent from the, "Alberta Advantage", they'll never recover.

  13. the agricultural industry puts out more C02 than the oil sands ..when are they going to shut down the dairy farms in Quebec and Ontario? If the oil sands is so dirty then why doesn't the federal government use all the money it gets from Alberta to set up plants to dump oxygen into the air to neutralize the carbon dioxide.

    • You can't just dump oxygen into the air to neutralize CO2. What Ottawa needs to do is shut down the oil sands production and begin to look at actually doing something about Canada's disastrous and disgusting environmental disaster. Reducing CO2 by 3% is a joke, and a disgusting one at that.

      Comparing the oil industry to the agricultural industry is another thing. You absolutely cannot compare the two. Agriculture is also a dirty industry that definitely needs to have it's greed and polluting practices weeded out so that we can have a fair and balanced market. The environment is ours to protect, as we are the only ones who can do anything about it. What you have said takes the onus off of human beings for what they have done. As I said before, simply dumping oxygen wouldn't do anything to help the situation. Canada and the world should be disgusted with the track record that our government has on these matters.