Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Wrench In the Gears of Big Oil

New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pugilistic scion of the famous political family, has just thrown a large wrench into the gears of Big Oil to export tar sand crude from Alberta to the Far East. He instructed incoming cabinet members to work to "formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia north coast." This directive protects preservation of Canada's temperate coastal rain forest, one of the largest on Earth, but is sure to earn the scorn of oil and pipeline companies seeking routes on which to export Canada's supply of crude oil. Canadian environmentalists say Trudeau's directive ends Enbridge's Northern Gateway Proposal for a pipleline from Bruderheim to Kitimat at the head of Douglas Channel. First Nations have already opposed the pipeline proposal and banned oil tankers from the north coast. Without a pipeline across the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains, companies have no high volume route to the Pacific coast for exporting oil via tanker.

Oil interests say the project is still alive, and was approved last year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government. If built, it could bring 525,000 barrels of bitumen from Alberta a day.  A parallel pipe would also be built to transport 193,000bpd of 'dilbit' or bitumen-thinning dilutent from the coast to the Alberta tar sands.  Liberals, now forming a new government have historically opposed the project. Marine weather conditions in Hecate Strait are particularly severe in winter where waves reach twenty-six meters. Tankers would have to navigate this strait, to reach Kitimat the proposed pipeline terminus. Several major vessels, including BC's ferry Queen of the North have foundered in the narrow passages of the British Columbia coast.