pipelines

Dams for Dilbit: How Canada’s New Hydro Dams Will Power Oil Pipelines

Dams for Dilbit: How Canada’s New Hydro Dams Will Power Oil Pipelines

The cancellation of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline in early October had major consequences for a rather unexpected player: Manitoba Hydro.

The company had been counting on the energy demand from the pipeline, and now the cancellation is putting extra strain on a company already plagued by debt and in the middle of building an $8.7 billion dam.

Back in 2014, the provincial utility company anticipated that almost 40 per cent of electricity generated by its proposed 695-megawatt Keeyask dam in northern Manitoba would be allocated to “pipeline load” for the Alberta Clipper, Line 3 and Energy East pipelines.

Specifically, the electricity would be used to run pumping stations, which force crude oil through pipelines via a series of pumps and motors. Among those pumping stations were those that would move bitumen from the oilsands to New Brunswick through the Energy East pipeline.

But Energy East is now officially dead.

The Disturbing Double Meaning of Trudeau's 'Sunny Ways'

Justin Trudeau Sunny Ways

This piece originally appeared on the Dogwood website.

Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways!” For most people, that line in Justin Trudeau’s victory speech two years ago heralded a return to “positive politics” after 10 years of Stephen Harper’s icy glare.

It’s also a reference to tricking someone into taking their clothes off.

Q&A with Chris Turner on the People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oilsands

Chris Turner The Patch Oilsands

Chris Turner’s new book, The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands, opens with a story about ducks. 

Actually, in the context of the oilsands, it’s the story about ducks: more than 1,600 ducks migrating through northern Alberta died after landing on a tailings pond in 2008. It brought worldwide condemnation of the industry, and acted as a catalyst for environmental protests that are ongoing today. 

The Patch is the story of what happened long before, and since, the turning point brought about by the ducks: how the industry came to be, how it scraped by through its infancy to become the roaring engine of Canadian industry in the early 2000’s; how its cycles of boom and bust have built fortunes and shifted the gravitational centre of Canada to a once-quiet patch of Boreal forest; and how the same ambitious industrial vision that stoked the fire may yet snuff it out. 

Alberta Leadership Candidate Proposes Oil Pipeline to Arctic As World Aims to Get Off Oil

Trans-Alaskan pipeline. Photo by etherlore

As the leadership contest for Alberta’s newly formed United Conservative Party heats up, it’s no surprise pipeline politics are front and centre.

As four major oilsands pipeline projects from Alberta sit abandoned, stalled or awaiting review, one contender is proposing to beat the pipeline gridlock through an entirely new route.

It wouldn’t be through the west or east coast but through the Arctic — namely Churchill, Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world, nestled in Hudson Bay.

Alberta’s Pipeline Regulation a ‘Facade’: Experts

Oil pipeline

The Alberta Energy Regulator — responsible for regulating more than 430,000 kilometres of pipelines in the province — has finally started to try to clean up its image.

In the last two weeks of February, the agency launched a “pipeline performance report” that graphs recent pipeline incidents, it levelled a $172,500 fine against Murphy Oil for a 2015 spill that went undetected for 45 days and it shut down all operations by the notoriously uncooperative Lexin Resources, including 201 pipelines.*

But critics suggest there are major systemic flaws in the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that still need to be addressed if pipeline safety is to be taken seriously.

It’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “You’re talking about a spill that went undetected for 45 days. And the company was fined an amount that they could likely make in less than an hour. That doesn’t send any message to the company. It definitely doesn’t send any message to the industry. And it doesn’t reform company behaviour.”

4 Reasons the ‘Oil to Tidewater’ Argument is Bunk

Oil tanker

Access to world markets for Canadian oil has been available since 1956 when the Westridge dock was constructed in Burnaby, B.C., and linked to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

The dock’s export capacity has rarely been used to its full potential in more than 60 years — yet the oil industry and politicians continue to make the argument that Canada needs new pipelines to get oil to world markets. 

Here are four reasons that argument doesn’t fly.

Three Reasons Why Keystone XL May Never Get Built

Keystone XL pipeline

Almost a full decade since first applying for a presidential permit, TransCanada looks set to finally receive go-ahead in the U.S. for its massive $8-billion Keystone XL pipeline.

But here’s the thing: U.S. approval, while a great leap forward for TransCanada, doesn’t guarantee the Keystone XL pipeline will ever be built.

U.S. President Donald Trump was elected with the explicit promise to get the 830,000 barrel per day pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska built, under the conditions that the U.S. would receive a “big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights” and it would be built with American steel; his administration has already flip-flopped on the latter pledge.

*Update: On March 24, 2017, Trump granted Trans Canada the presidential permit required to build Keystone XL, saying: “It’s going to be an incredible pipeline, the greatest technology known to man, or woman.”

So is Keystone XL going to be built? Not so fast. Here are three key reasons why it may never become a reality.

How to Fix the National Energy Board, Canada's 'Captured Regulator'

The National Energy Board (NEB) is a “captured regulator” that has “lost touch with what it means to protect the public interest.”

That’s what Marc Eliesen — former head of BC Hydro, Ontario Hydro and Manitoba Hydro, and former deputy minister of energy in Ontario and Manitoba — told the NEB Modernization Expert Panel on Wednesday morning in Vancouver.

The bottom line is that the board’s behaviour during the Trans Mountain review not only exposed the process as a farce, it exposed the board as a captured regulator,” he said to the five-member panel.

Tweet: “Regulatory capture exists when a regulator ceases to be independent and objective.” http://bit.ly/2kUzoTv #cdnpoli #EnergyEast #TransMtnRegulatory capture exists when a regulator ceases to be independent and objective.”

The Trans Mountain pipeline was reviewed with what many consider a heavily politicized NEB process, one that Trudeau had committed to changing prior to issuing a federal verdict on the project.

How the Spectre of Oil Trains is Deceptively Used to Push Pipelines

Either support new pipelines or your community will be incinerated by an oil-carrying train.

It sounds outrageous, but it’s been a foundational argument made by the pro-pipeline lobby ever since the horrific Lac-Mégantic disaster in 2013.

This is almost like putting a gun to the head of communities, saying ‘well, if we don’t build our pipeline then we’re going to put more oil-by-rail traffic through your community,’ ” says Patrick DeRochie, program manager of Environmental Defence’s climate and energy program.

Tweet: ‘...the oil industry’s really manipulating legitimate public concerns about rail safety to push pipelines.’ http://bit.ly/2iRvNVt #cdnpoliI think that’s dishonest and the oil industry’s really manipulating legitimate public concerns about rail safety to push pipelines.”

On Dec. 20, 2016 — less than a month after the federal approvals of the Kinder Morgan TransMountain and Enbridge Line 3 pipelines — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clearly stated that “putting in a pipeline is a way of preventing oil by rail, which is more dangerous and more expensive.”

The fact that it’s an oft-repeated sentiment shouldn’t overshadow the fact that this is a completely false binary.

Secrecy Around Composition of Oilsands Dilbit Makes Effective Spill Response, Research Impossible: New Study

Knowledge gaps about the behaviour of diluted bitumen when it is spilled into saltwater and lack of information about how to deal with multiple problems that can result from extracting and transporting bitumen from the Alberta oilsands, make it impossible for government or industry to come up with effective policies to deal with a disaster, says a newly published research paper, Oilsands and the Marine Environment.

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