Tag Archives: Oil Sands

Oil, Tar and the Irony of Life


The question oil haunts us like a cancer cell. We try to avoid it but it keeps coming back. It seeps throughout the bowels of the earth. We know its just dead things. A reflection or the past, or maybe our future?

We know something must be done to combat global warming and our over consumption; but we are unable to escape it. We have grown accustomed to our large homes, cars and the devices I am using as I type. So what are we to do? Movies Avatar or the shows Firefly talked briefly about our consumption; how we used up the Earth’s resources. Will it happen? I don’t know. I have to believe that we are better than that. Albeit, there was World War 1&2, the Korean War, Slavery, weapons of mass destruction, but I am off topic.

The question is oil, specifically the Alberta tar sands, is a good one. Yes the 1.8 trillion, or more, barrels of oil waiting to be used. The bitumen, or tar for a better description, is waiting to be “plundered”. Don’t kid yourself. We, as a species, are not ready to change. I am not here to tell you oil is all bad or even good. Think about it for a minute, or longer. How do you tell someone that they should ignore the mounds of money waiting to be extracted? Still thinking? Exactly, you don’t. You see we all have to face the fact that we are unable to change. President George W. Bush was correct when he said “we are addicted to oil“. We can talk about the environment but do we realize how ubiquitous and how far oil has come into our life? It’s everywhere! From the car you drive to the container you use. The chair you sit on or the stuff in your food. Can we change? Or do we really want to make the hard choices? What will our children say about us? Or will we leave anything to say?

Our addiction is massive, but life must go on. Humanity is an interesting species. We will adapt. We will continue to extract the “black gold” until its no more. Don’t kid yourselves, there is no quick fix. We just need to be better stewards and live in balance with the planet. When all is said and done I am sure we will find something else to consume or we will learn to live. Let’s hope there is something left, hence the irony. We run, we consume, we waste the dead things of life. What is oil, tar sands or bitumen? Maybe its just a reflection or what we are and what we will become when balance runs amuck. What do you think?

By: @iammannyj

No Pipeline to the West Coast?


A slim majority of British Columbians support a proposed $5.5-billion oilsands pipeline to the B.C. coast, but opposition to the megaproject is growing, according to a new poll.

The poll also found that an overwhelming majority of B.C. Conservative party supporters, and two-thirds of B.C. Liberal supporters, favour the controversial plan by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.

NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who commissioned the poll, said the results suggest it will become increasingly difficult for Christy Clark, B.C.’s Liberal premier, to continue to straddle the fence on the issue.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Opposition+oilsands+pipeline+growing+poll+finds/6374553/story.html

The worst environmental disaster in a century? Gulf Coast oil spill…


As we watch the effects of the inevitable oil spill transpire in the Gulf Coast we have to ask ourselves yet again, is it worth it?

Any ocean oil extraction process using a drilling rig has a risk factor attached to it. This risk factor is not a question of “if” but “when” will the disaster occur.

Just imagine the devastation that is occurring right now in the Mexican Gulf and ponder what such a catastrophe would mean if it happened here. A 5,000-square-kilometre oil slick sits just 80 kilometres off the shores of America and Mexico. How many innocent creatures has it killed? How long will the after-effects of such a huge contamination be felt?
Read more

Alberta oilsands refineries could cause irreversible damage


 

Alberta Oil Sands

Alberta Oil Sands

The development of a pipeline network and refineries around the Great Lakes to process Alberta bitumen “could cause irreversible” environmental damage to the region, says a new report that traces the tendrils of Alberta’s oilsands developments across the continent.

 

There are currently 17 refinery projects either being “considered, planned, applied for, approved or developed” around the Great Lakes, according to the report, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes, released Wednesday.

The report, commissioned by the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre program on water issues, warns that little is known about the environmental impact on the Great Lakes given the level of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption that comes with the refining process.
There are currently 17 refinery projects either being ‘considered, planned, applied for, approved or developed’ around the Great Lakes, according to the report, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes, released Wednesday.
There are currently 17 refinery projects either being ‘considered, planned, applied for, approved or developed’ around the Great Lakes, according to the report, How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes, released Wednesday.

“We are paying more attention at the oilsands end, but not where the oil gets to and what happens there,” said David Israelson, the report’s author. “The other big issue is climate change and this means exponential increase in greenhouse gas emissions before you put a drop in your car.”

Dubbing it a “pollution delivery system,” the report said the thousands-kilometres-long pipeline complex used to ferry Athabasca bitumen from source to refinery could bring “2.3 million tonnes” of greenhouse gas emissions to the centre of North America every year.

“It will also bring new, large-scale sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions – the building blocks of acid rain – as well as fine particulate matter, which is responsible for premature deaths,” said the report. “Pipeline and refinery expansion applications are being made and approved right now with little general awareness of the potential long-term damage to the Great Lakes environment.”

Bitumen is a tar-like heavy hydrocarbon that is removed from Alberta’s oilsands and upgraded into synthetic crude oil.

Environmental groups were quick to back the report’s findings. Justin Duncan, a lawyer with Ecojustice, said the federal government needs to revise its entire approach to oilsands

read more | digg story

Will Canada’s oil boom be an environmental bust? The new global wasteland?


Alberta the new oil wasteland

Alberta the new oil wasteland

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (AP) — The largest dump truck in the world is parked under a massive mechanical shovel waiting to transport 400 tons of oily sand at an open pit mine in the northern reaches of Alberta. Each Caterpillar 797B heavy hauler — three-stories high, with tires twice as tall as the average man — carries the equivalent of 200 barrels.

Shell, which has 35 of the massive loaders working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has ordered 16 more — at $5 million each — as it expands its open pit mines. And it is not alone among major oil companies rushing to exploit Alberta’s oil sands, which make Canada one of the few countries that can significantly ramp up oil production amid the decline in conventional reserves.

Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Canada’s Imperial and other companies plan to strip an area here the size of New York state that could yield as much as 175 billion barrels of oil. Daily production of 1.2 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to nearly triple to 3.5 million barrels in 2020. Overall, Alberta has more oil than Venezuela, Russia or Iran. Only Saudi Arabia has more.

High prices — a barrel reached almost $150 last month and is around $115 now — are fueling the province’s oil boom. Since it’s costly to extract oil from the sands, using the process on a widespread basis began to make sense only when crude prices started skyrocketing earlier this century.

But the enormous amount of energy and water needed in the extraction process has raised fears among scientists, environmentalists and officials in an aboriginal town 170 miles downstream from Fort McMurray. The critics say the growing operations by major oil companies will increase greenhouse gas emissions and threaten Alberta’s rivers and forests.

“Their projected rates of expansion are so fast that we don’t have a hope in hell of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. David Schindler, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta.

Oil sands operations, including extraction and processing, are responsible for 4 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s expected to triple to 12 percent by 2020. Oil sand mining is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and is one reason it reneged on its Kyoto Protocol commitments. Experts say producing a barrel of oil from sands results in emissions three times greater than a conventional barrel of oil.

Worries about environmental damage have gotten enough attention that even the oil industry realizes it must tread softly on the issue. “Industry has to improve its environmental performance,” Brian Maynard, a vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said recently.

Questions about developing Alberta’s oil sands have seeped into the U.S. presidential campaign and the debate in Canada and the U.S. over keeping down the price of gasoline while still protecting the environment.

The Bush administration sees Alberta as a reliable source of energy that will help reduce reliance on Middle East oil. U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said the oil sands will define the relationship between the two countries for the next 10 years.

“We are blessed by the fact that our friend and neighbor is also our number one supplier of foreign oil,” Wilkins told The Associated Press.

However, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s top energy adviser said oil sands emissions are “unacceptably high” and may run counter to Obama’s plan to shift the U.S. away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

“The amount of energy that you have to use to get that oil out of the ground is such that it actually creates a much greater impact on climate change, as well as using much more energy than even traditional petroleum,” Obama adviser Jason Grumet said.

Mining oil sands also was criticized by American mayors in a resolution adopted at their annual conference in June urging a ban on using oil sands-derived gasoline in municipal vehicles. They alleged the oil sands mines damage Canada’s boreal forest — boreal refers to the earth’s northern zone — and slows the transition to cleaner energy sources in the U.S.

John Baird, Canada’s environment minister, warned that Washington would lose energy security if it doesn’t take Alberta’s oil.

“If American mayors want to send their money to unstable, undemocratic countries in the Middle East instead of to Canada, that will be their call. If they want to pay a premium for Iranian, Saudi, Iraqi oil that will be their call,” Baird told the AP.

read more | digg story

Tar sand investments now a dead duck?


As one Canadian newspaper put it. Ducks in Alberta died a crude death. One of the species of ducks that died on a pond filled with crude oil polluted water.

read more | digg story

Mr. Stelmach may have failed to consider larger issues such as the environment


Preston Manning launched a broadside yesterday against Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, attacking the Progressive Conservative leader’s competence and predicting his electoral demise.

The former Reform Party leader – whose father Ernest was Alberta’s longest-serving premier, as part of the Social Credit dynasty in the mid-20th century – said Mr. Stelmach failed to consider larger issues such as the environment and energy security last month in deciding to raise oil royalties.

“I think he’s a sincere and honest man,” Mr. Manning said yesterday on CTV’s Question Period. “I think the bigger question with Premier Stelmach and the administration is one of its competence. Does it have the competence to deal with these big-picture issues?”

Mr. Manning said the opposition Liberals and New Democrats display even less understanding of Alberta’s potential leadership role, but predicted they could benefit from Tory failings.

The Progressive Conservatives have been in power since 1971, but Mr. Manning cast doubt on whether Mr. Stelmach will win the next election.

“I think it’s becoming increasingly unlikely unless, say, the government demonstrates a capacity that it hasn’t shown thus far,” he said.

“I don’t see votes going to the Liberals or the NDP. I think their biggest danger is another 150,000 people staying home who voted Conservative the last time and then that puts

dozens and dozens of seats up for grabs.”

Tom Olsen, Mr. Stelmach’s spokesman, said that the Premier wouldn’t be “rattled” by Mr. Manning’s comments, and that he remains focused on achieving a number of goals before calling the next election.

read more | digg story

Stupid to the last drop – Alberta oil thirst leading to disaster


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).

Read an excerpt from ‘Stupid to the Last Drop’

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.”

read more | digg story