The author of a new book on the future of Canada’s oil industry says Alberta is destroying itself in its rush to extract every drop of fossil fuel from the oilsands.William Marsden, a Montreal journalist and author of “Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care).
He says Alberta is giving up control of its oil assets to foreign investors and private business, with little effort to ensure its economic or environmental future is protected.
“This is really crazy what’s happening in Alberta today. We have a province that is actually destroying itself in the effort to get every last drop of oil and gas out,” Marsden says.
“We’re shipping it to the United States — 60 per cent of our production — at a time when Canada looks, and the whole world looks, like we’re beginning to run out of oil. And we will need these reserves in the long-term.”
He said experts estimate there are about one trillion barrels of oil in the world today. Those are being used up at a rate of about 30 or 31 billion per year, and rising. At that speed, the reserves will dry up in about 65 years unless additional reserves are discovered, Marsden says.
He predicts the approach of a transition period, where the world will shift towards using new types of fuel as global supplies begin to run out.
To prepare for that, Marsden suggests Canada needs to begin stockpiling fuel in order to guarantee a successful transition through that period. At the moment, however, that isn’t happening.
“We’ve basically given it over to private industry, most of which is foreign, so the vast majority of the profits are going to private industry,” Marsden said.
“So we won’t even have the kind of treasury that we will need as we enter into this new age to smooth over this transition.”
He said Canadians don’t seem to realize how dire the situation really is and many believe there is no reason to question the status quo.
“It’s almost sort of the politics of our age where we continue to think that it’s business as usual,” Marsden said.
“I mean, Canadians are looking at Alberta and thinking to themselves, we have vast reserves there, there’s no problem. In fact, we don’t have vast reserves. We’re running out of conventional oil and gas. Within 10 years Canadians could see a fairly serious deficit in gas which is going to affect millions of homes and industries.”