But this is not about oil!

Companies exploiting the Athabasca and Cold Lake oil sands and the pipeline public relations people must be proud of themselves. They have gullible business media writers, television script writers and others in the news business talking about oil. They have all found it easier to talk about oil rather than to explain bitumen.

Just last week Gordon Pape, a person who has made a career of giving advice on building wealth, wrote a column for the Toronto Star about pipelines that illustrates the problem. He was warning people of the economic consequences of saying no to any more pipelines. The only problem is that he illustrates his story with stalled pipelines that are designed to send diluted, heated bitumen through pipelines under high pressure.

And that is the problem. Canadians are being constantly lied to about pipelines. In Pape’s story he claims that Canadians have suddenly decided that economic stagnation is preferable to any project that might—and he puts emphasis on the word might—have a negative effect on the environment.

“Might” is a weak word. If you Google the words “Enbridge, Pipeline, Kalamazoo, Michigan,” you can read for yourself what happens when millions of litres of diluted bitumen are spilled into a river system. It is now more than five years and more than a billion (US) dollars spent to try to restore the area of the spill. It is the largest pipeline spill in American history and the clean-up can never be finished.

Pape speaks positively about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal for a pipeline to Kitimat, B.C. He says it is not officially dead yet but opposition from First Nations, the B.C. government and the federal Liberal’s pledge to outlaw tanker traffic in the ecologically sensitive region has effectively killed the project.

What Pape neglects to mention is that the proposed pipeline is actually twinned with a smaller diameter pipe that would feed light crude over the Rockies to Bruderheim, Alberta. At the Bruderheim terminal, the bitumen was to be mixed with the light crude, heated and sent back to Kitimat through the larger diameter pipe at high pressure.

Twinning the Kinder Morgan pipeline to Burnaby, B.C. was also a planned conversion to bitumen. And the 4,600 kilometres of the Energy East pipeline is again a proposal for diluted, high temperature, high pressure bitumen transit.

While Pape paints an optimistic picture for pipelines, he asks us if we want to shut down the prospects for future growth in this industry? What we should ask is when will the tar sands people find a method of converting bitumen to synthetic crude oil in Alberta without destroying the province’s environment?

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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