At $12 billion, it’s no small lie.

TransCanada Pipelines announced its Energy East Pipeline yesterday. It has been in the plans for a while. For a $12 billion scheme, they gave it a few extra trumpet riffs. Yet, you would think that for so much money, they would come up with a few new lies about the project. They know they are going to get called on the old ones. Why not come up with some new ones?

The plan is to convert TransCanada’s main gas pipeline from Western Canada to bring bitumen slurry initially to Montreal and then, through a new line, to Saint John, New Brunswick. Irving Oil of New Brunswick gave away the real plan when it announced that it would build a new $300 million marine oil terminal at Saint John to ship the bitumen slurry offshore. Neither the Montreal or Saint John refineries are presently equipped to refine bitumen into synthetic oil nor are they eager for the pollution concerns that go with bitumen refining.

What is truly frightening about this announcement is that the TransCanada spokesman claimed that the converted gas pipeline would be able to pump over a million barrels of bitumen slurry a day. Of course, he calls it oil. He could call it baby oil if he wants but you would never want that stuff near your baby’s tender behind.

Conversion of a gas pipeline to a pipeline that can handle bitumen slurry is not an overnight change. TransCanada says that it will need to replace gas compressors with about 70 pumping stations along the pipeline. It is assumed that this will include gas heaters to keep the slurry able to move easily and be able to respond to higher pressures.

It is when you add all the current pipeline schemes that you really see the scale of the oil sands development in Western Canada. The Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipelines would be able to send more than a million barrels a day to the west coast, the TransCanada Keystone XL and Enbridge looped Flanagan line able to send a million and a half barrels to the Texas Gulf Coast shipping terminals and now the TransCanada Energy East Pipeline joining the reversed Enbridge Line 9 with another million and a half barrels to the east coast, Canada will be pushing more than four million barrels of bitumen a day to the sea lanes. In the next ten years, the oil sands developers will want to double that volume.

It will happen fast enough if our news media continue calling bitumen crude oil.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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