Tag Archives: Oil

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?
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Revolutionary plastic e-paper set to hit the high street


By Chris Laker
Last updated at 4:43 PM on 15th October 2008

The era of the traditional newspaper could soon be over as scientists launch production of a revolutionary electronic version – made out of plastic.

The e-reader is the brainchild of students at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory and will be developed by manufacturing plant Plastic Logic at a factory in Germany. The invention is due to hit the high street next year.

Each part of the design will be made from plastic and will be super-thin, as light as the average magazine and able to store and display documents.

Dean Baker, Manufacturing Engineering Manager of Plastic Logic, said the invention of the lightweight e-reader will also drastically reduce the waste that currently comes with the traditional product.

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Local Canadian Terrorist – B.C. pipeline bombings raise fears from public at community meeting


DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — As members of the RCMP’s national terrorism unit continued to gather evidence at the sites of two gas pipeline bombings in northeastern B.C. this weekend, other officers met with about 200 frightened citizens at a public gathering.

“There is an ongoing amount of concern and definitely a certain level of fear that has been expressed from the public,” said Sgt. Tim Shields.

“This event was an opportunity for the RCMP to explain what is going on with the investigation and to provide a forum for the community to ask questions of the police and EnCana.”

The pipeline operator and police officers met with residents in a hall at the tiny nearby community of Tomslake.

Eric Kuenzl of Tomslake, B.C., was at the meeting at the school in the hamlet near the Alberta boundary.

He says people in the area aren’t venturing out unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“People are on edge. They’re scared,” Kuenzl told The Canadian Press. “They want answers. The meeting was designed to give direction. They ironed out a few things . . . as far as flying over with choppers and looking with infra-red to make sure there’s no other bombs.”

“That makes me feel a little safer.”

Kuenzl was critical, however, of officials locking children in the Tomslake school when news of the bombing came out.

He says the community sits in a low-lying area and the heavy gas from the pipeline could have killed youngsters locked in a school.

“They put all the kids inside and then they closed all the ducts and everything. It’s like building a giant coffin,” Kuenzl said.

“Why wouldn’t you just load them up in the bus and get ’em the hell out of here. I think I’d be safer on the roof of my house than I would be inside my house.”

Meanwhile, members of the RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit and the RCMP National Post Blast Team continue their work at the blast sites.

“Personnel are continuing to conduct a thorough search of the blast area and the surrounding debris field,” said Shields.

“Essentially, these individuals are combing the area looking for any item that is out of place and could provide a clue to investigators. This can include anything from a footprint to a piece of the explosive that was used.”

It’s not yet clear what motivated two attacks on pipelines near Dawson Creek, the first last weekend and the second Wednesday night.

Police believe they’re linked to a letter sent to local media last week calling oil and gas companies “terrorists” that are “endangering our families.”

People living in and around Dawson Creek are quick to condemn the explosions, but they also say the region’s burgeoning oilpatch has had a sometimes uneasy relationship with its neighbours.

In both cases, the pipelines were owned by EnCana (TSX:ECA). The first pipeline did not rupture but the second explosion caused a small leak, one the company said was quickly contained.

The RCMP explosives unit was also at the site Friday, trying to find out what happened, said Shields.

“They will be in the process of recreating the blast in order to determine what type of material was used, how it was used and to gather evidence,” he said.

Terrorism expert John Thompson said the fact the bombings weren’t preceded by other incidents of protest and vandalism suggests they’re likely the work of one or two people working alone rather than organized environmental groups mounting a broader campaign.

“This also suggests that this is a small, amateurish effort by community activists,” said Thompson, president of the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute.

“It’s either somebody who is particularly torqued off by the oil and gas industry specifically, or someone who is self-actualized as a radical environmentalist with their own strange ideas about how to fight.”

The bombings have brought back memories of Wiebo Ludwig, an Alberta farmer who spent nearly two years in prison on charges related to oilpatch bombing and vandalism in the 1990s.

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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

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Wikipedia’s definition of a Carbon Tax


carbon tax is an environmental tax on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It is an example of a pollution tax.

Carbon atoms are present in every fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) and are released as CO2 when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources — wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear — do not convert hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide. Accordingly, a carbon tax is effectively a tax on the use of fossil fuels, and only fossil fuels. Some schemes also include other greenhouse gases; the global warming potential is an internationally accepted scale of equivalence for other greenhouse gases in units of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Because of the link with global warming, a carbon tax is sometimes assumed to require an internationally administered scheme. However, that is not intrinsic to the principle. The European Union considered a carbon tax covering its member states prior to starting its emissions trading scheme in 2005. The UK has unilaterally introduced a range of carbon taxesand levies to accompany the EU ETS trading regime. Note that emissions trading systems do not constitute a Pigovian tax because it entails the creation of a property right. Nonetheless, both taxes and tradable permits put a price on emissions, and that price is equal to all parties involved. Therefore, emission reduction targets are met at minimum cost.

The intention of a carbon tax is environmental: to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and thereby slow climate change. It can be implemented by taxing the burning of fossil fuels — coal, petroleum products such as gasoline and aviation fuel, and natural gas — in proportion to their carbon content. Unlike other approaches such as carbon cap-and-trade systems, direct taxation has the benefit of being easily understood and can be popular with the public if the revenue from the tax is returned by reducing other taxes. Alternatively, it may be used to fund environmental projects.

In economic theory, pollution is considered a negative externality because it has a negative effect on a party not directly involved in a transaction.

To confront parties with the issue, the economist Arthur Pigou proposed taxing the goods (in this case fossil fuels) which were the source of the negative externality (carbon dioxide) so as to accurately reflect the cost of the goods’ production to society, thereby internalizing the costs associated with the goods’ production. A tax on a negative externality is termed aPigovian tax, and should equal the marginal damage costs.

A carbon tax is an indirect tax — a tax on a transaction — as opposed to a direct tax, which taxes income. As a result, some American conservatives have supported such a carbon tax because it taxes at a fixed rate, independent of income, which complements their support of a flat tax.[2]

Prices of carbon (fossil) fuels are expected to continue increasing as more countries industrialize and add to the demand on fuel supplies. In addition to creating incentives for energy conservation, a carbon tax would put renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal on a more competitive footing, stimulating their growth.

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Gas prices jump by up to 13 cents a litre in some markets


Motorists in many cities in Canada received a sharp surprise early Friday when they discovered the price of gasoline had risen by as much as 13 cents a litre. Liberal MP Dan McTeague, a critic of the oil industry, said he cannot recall a time when gasoline prices rose by so much in such a short period of time.

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Why the Conservatives and the PM need an election now to save themselves.


Elections for Canada - October 2008

Elections for Canada - October 2008

Some high profile Conservatives are not seeking re-election. Do they see the title wave coming? Are they afraid? The real reason the federal Conservatives are calling for an election now is that they really do not have a choice. What do I mean by that? Let’s make just a few points.

  1. The longer they wait, the better chance they will loose even more seats next year, pending the coming downturn in the economy. In case your head is stuck in the sand somewhere, the economy is not doing well.

  2. The numbers for the Conservatives are still strong in Quebec and they have a chance to grab some seats in Ontario. The election may affect the Liberals more than the Conservatives.

  3. The Honourable Stéphane Dion polling numbers are not strong. However, that is slowly changing and they need to go to the polls now, rather than later. The longer they wait, the more “sympathy” for Dion. I believe that the Conservatives will stay away from poking fun at Dion, because this stragedy does not help. They will will HAVE TO focus on making the PM more personal to win.

  4. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is betting that their low-profile governance will help them at the polls. To be honest, there is not much news and “substance” to go on. People tend to figure, if it is not broken why fix it, to be frank.

  5. The overall view is, when the economy is in a downturn, you need a “fiscally conservative” approach. That is a perception that has not changed much. This is probably what did in the government of Bob Rae in Ontario, leading to the extreme right in the Harris “common sense revolution. Again, I have already said it, but the PM does not want to have the stain of being the government that caused a ressession. Even though it would not be true, it does not really matter. Its all about perception.

  6. The western provinces are doing well, so “milk it while we have a chance to”, because the Greens are coming!

  7. The George Bush factor! Need I say more, as November approaches? If people believe that they have become a bit too “neo-conservative”, than the Conservatives are in trouble, especially in Ontario and Quebec. So go now while we are “a sleep at the wheel”.

  8. The PM needs an election fast, before the historic election in the U.S. It is a fact the a huge amount of Canadian’s are watching the American election. No matter what you think the Conservatives “DO NOT” want to be caught in the “change title wave” that is approaching. If they do, they will basically drown in the possible Obama factor, no matter what side of the fence you are on.

The fact is the only point the Conservatives are riding is the fact that they can say “the Green Shift is not a prudent policy for the coming economic downturn”. While, offering no option of their own, they are “fear mongering” people into thinking that this is all about raising taxes. This is a dangerous gamble, seeing that people list the environment as an important factor, despite economics. Now make no assumption, I am not a Liberal member. To be honest, if there was a viable Libertarian Party I would go down that route (albeit I do like the Greens a bit). But that is besides the fact! There is a burning ship in parliament, and the Conservatives are doing what ANY party would attempt to do. Get a few more years and hope, you can ride the possible recession out. Maybe even a possible Liberal, NDP leadership review and like magic call another election. We will probably see another Conservative minority. Who really knows? This election may end up hurting the Liberals, more than the Conservatives and the NDP or Green Party may make substantial strides in politics this time around. The question is, at who’s expense? What will happen if Canadian’s want change? Can any leader capitalize on this? Or is this a bit of Russian roulette? I welcome your comments!

By Andy MJ
a.k.a the G.T.A Patriot

GM prepares for large cuts in North America. More bad news for Oshawa?


General Motors will unveil further measures on Tuesday to cope with the dramatic downturn in the north American vehicle market.

The world’s biggest carmaker said that the steps, to be outlined at a press conference, are designed “to align the business to current market conditions”. The conference will be attended by Rick Wagoner, chief executive, as well as Fritz Henderson, chief operating officer, and Ray Young, chief financial officer.

GM announced last month that it would close four north American light-truck plants in the wake of an abrupt shift in demand from big pick-up trucks and sport-utility vehicles to more fuel-efficient cars and crossover vehicles.

It is also reviewing the future of Hummer, its biggest vehicle, and accelerating the introduction of more popular vehicles.

GM’s US sales tumbled 18 per cent in June from a year earlier. By contrast, its business in many other countries is performing strongly. It said on Monday that sales volumes in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East jumped 18 per cent in the second quarter to a new record.

International operations now make up about 60 per cent of GM’s sales volumes.

Mr Wagoner last week dismissed talk that the company might seek bankruptcy protection or ditch more of its eight US brands.

However, it is widely expected within the next few months to take steps to shore up its liquidity, with analysts projecting that it will raise between $10bn-$15bn.

It currently has about $24bn in cash reserves but analysts estimate that it is burning about $1bn a month.

Himanshu Patel at JPMorgan said that GM had several options to bolster liquidity, including secured debt, delaying the transfer of its blue-collar healthcare plan to the United Auto Workers union, issuing new equity and further trimming capital outlays.

GM shares are currently at their lowest level in more than half a century. They slipped another 5.4 per cent on Monday to $9.38.

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The end of GM Oshawa has begun? The time of the small car renaissance has come!


General Motors says it will cease production at four factories in Ohio, Wisconsin, Canada and Mexico that produce trucks and SUVs. As General Motors Corp. prepares for its annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday, workers across the country are worried that the next round of the company’s restructuring could cost them jobs or even their factories.

GM may also furlough entire shifts of workers at some truck factories and may move them to car plants as it restructures to adjust to a rapidly changing U.S. market brought on by $4 per gallon gasoline.

With high gas prices, more expensive groceries, the credit crunch and declining home values, fewer people are going to dealer showrooms, Gettelfinger said.

“People are going to stay away from the big-ticket items like automobiles,” he said.

GM sales through April were off 12.2 percent when compared with the same period last year. The company sold 20.8 percent fewer Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks, and the market for big SUVs has all but collapsed.

GM also lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter and a record $38.7 billion in 2007, largely due to a charge for unused tax credits.

JP Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel said he would not rule out a cut in GM’s 25-cent-per-share dividend, and said in a note to investors Monday the company likely will have to borrow more money.

“GM no doubt needs to raise financing given current cash burn rate — we think as much as $10 billion of total financing may be needed, though not all immediately,” Patel wrote.

Already the company has announced indefinite layoffs of one shift each at the Pontiac and Flint pickup plants, and more are expected.

Last week the company announced that 19,000 of its 74,000 U.S. blue-collar workers had signed up for buyout or early retirement offers. That clears the way to shrink the company’s production footprint, but few know where the cuts will come.

For workers, it could mean being forced to move to another city, away from families and lifelong ties to the community, if their jobs are eliminated or their plant is closed. If they’re lucky, there could be a factory nearby where GM will increase production of cars that get good gas mileage.

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.

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