Premiers aid tar sands trip to the sea.

Where is the least resistance? Wherever it might be, Canada’s pipelines people will find it. Their objective is to get that damn tar sands bitumen to a seaport, onto ocean tankers and off to where they can get world crude oil prices. Their latest allies in this quest are Canada’s provincial premiers. The premiers weighed in on the subject at their annual roast of the federal government on the weekend. It seems they want to have their own national energy strategy.

This is not to say there was universal agreement with the idea among the provinces. Premier Christy Clark from British Columbia told the other premiers to butt out of her game with the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline across her province to a shipping point at Kitimat. Premier Alison Redford of Alberta said they should all keep their hands off Alberta’s oil revenues.

Many oil people are betting on U.S. President Barack Obama giving the nod to Trans Canada’s XL pipeline down to the Texas coast. Most Americans think that is to make use of the Texas refineries but reality is that the Americans do not need the oil from bitumen and it would most likely be shipped from Texas to markets in Europe and the Far East.

The same holds true for the proposed eastern routes to Portland, Maine or Saint John, New Brunswick. Both Portland and Saint John have the refinery capacity to handle the refining of the bitumen slurry but, again, it is the shipping capabilities that interest our Canadian tar sands people.

Premier David Alward of New Brunswick thinks there is a pot of gold at the end of that eastern pipeline to Saint John. All he needs is one spill of bitumen slurry in his province and his citizens will change his mind for him. When that tar seeps into ground water, the neighbouring potato farmers will be on welfare for the rest of their lives.

What is the most surprising is that the Idle No More movement among Canada’s indigenous population has not realized their ability to use pipelines to their advantage. If they ever wanted to bargain effectively for proper schools and assistance for remote living, as well as control of their reserves’ resources, now is the time.

The National Energy Board (NEB) has already approved the initial stages of reversing older pipelines such as Line 9 between Sarnia and Westover, Ontario. The next phases in Ontario and Quebec will open up the route to Portland, Maine. Ontario’s Liberal Premier-elect has been too busy to pay attention and Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has a different agenda.

The NEB approved Line 9 because it is not a new pipeline. It is just a new use for an old pipeline. The problem is that bitumen slurry requires higher temperatures and higher pressures to move it through an older line. The approval can be a death notice for the land it passes through.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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