Quantcast

«

»

Sep 12 2013

A Canadian Pipeline to Rival Keystone XL

As we wait on the Obama administration to make a final decision on whether to give the go-ahead to build the Keystone XL pipeline — he’ll approve it eventually — the company that owns it, TransCanada, is now proposing a massive new pipeline that would go all the way across Canada.

With a decision regarding its proposed Keystone XL pipeline delayed indefinitely in the U.S., TransCanada Corp. has set to work promoting another major tar sands pipeline that would carry almost as much crude as Keystone. On Tuesday, the company released a study projecting that construction of the massive Energy East pipeline will result in 2,300 jobs from now through 2015 during the development phase and 7,700 jobs during the construction phase between 2016 and 2018. After the pipeline is completed, the study estimates it will support 1,000 full-time jobs.

Energy East, the most expensive pipeline in TransCanada’s history, would run from Alberta to the Atlantic seaboard, ending where a new deep-water marine terminal would be built to export the crude overseas. In early August, TransCanada said it received the long-term contracts for about 900,000 barrels of crude per day and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already indicated his support for the project.

That’s interesting. Unlike Keystone XL, which would ship tar sands crude to the Gulf Coast to be refined and then shipped off, this one would evidently ship the crude to an Atlantic port where it would then be shipped off to be refined somewhere else. But it doesn’t really matter where it is refined. The real problems with tar sands crude are the cost of extracting it and the dangers of transporting it. It takes an extraordinary amount of water and energy to extract the oil from the tar sands at a time when clean water is becoming more scarce. And the amount of energy it takes makes it significantly worse than conventional crude oil for the environment.

And sending the thick sludge through pipelines presents unique problems that are far more dangerous than regular crude oil. We found out with the leak of nearly a million gallons of the stuff here in Michigan in 2010 that tar sands oil sets of thousands of false pressure alarms in the pipeline, making it all but impossible to detect a leak until it’s actually seen on land or in the water, when it’s too late. It also reacts very differently in the environment than regular crude oil, making it far more difficult to clean up (it’s thick and sinks to the bottom in water, so boom and skimmers don’t work as well). It is also much higher in heavy metals, which presents a much higher risk to public health.

34 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    RainbowSlushie^.^

    Somedays I would say I find this ‘unbelievable’ but this is one of those days where I find it very much believable. This is so disgusting.

  2. 2
    Reginald Selkirk

    A pipeline going all the way from Alberta to Canada’s east coast? I suppose that’s because a proposal to build a pipeline to Canada’s west coast was rejected by British Columbia several months ago.

  3. 3
    Reginald Selkirk

    In unrelated news, a molasses spill in Honolulu is decimating wildlife.

    “The molasses is not toxic but it’s heavier than water so it’s spreading around on the sea floor, displacing the oxygen-rich water down there, and the fish are suffocating,” said Keith Korsmeyer, a professor of biology at Hawaii Pacific University.

  4. 4
    felidae

    Another consequence of the Keystone XL pipeline is that it might actually increase the price of gas in the US as the tar sands oil is stranded and therefore sells at a large discount to other crudes. The pipeline would increase world access and thereby increase its price. Also, it is incredible how the number of jobs created by the pipeline is inflated–the WSJ recently said it would create 42,000 jobs, which is obivously horseshit

  5. 5
    rturpin

    “Unlike Keystone XL, which would ship tar sands crude to the Gulf Coast to be refined and then shipped off, this one would evidently ship the crude to an Atlantic port where it would then be shipped off to be refined somewhere else.”

    Actually, it might still be refined on the gulf coast. Once it’s at a port, it can be shipped most anywhere else with a suitable port, for not too much.

  6. 6
    Tabby Lavalamp

    1000 permanent jobs. Our descendants, if any, will be building monuments in gratitude.

  7. 7
    cry4turtles

    My initial reaction was was similar to rturpin, they will find a way to do this as long as the path is paved in complacency. I get petitions from orgs like Sierra Club, PA environmental groups etc., and I do take the time to sign them. Perhaps it’s wasted time, but members of our government can only ignore a half a million emails flooding their boxes for so long. I think some of these petitions are having an impact, at least I hope. And they’re easy to sign.

  8. 8
    Reginald Selkirk

    cry4turtles

    That’s an interesting name. Especially considering that Amazonian butterflies drink turtle tears

  9. 9
    zero6ix

    The image I have in my head is one of a gigantic metal bowel movement. Just mile after mile of steel intestine, squeezing tons of oily black fecal matter toward an inevitable elimination.

    /verbosepoopjoke

  10. 10
    Francisco Bacopa

    While I am among the residents of the Texas Gulf Coast that don’t want the pipeline, I have to say Keystone XL is a much better plan than a pipeline to the Atlantic. The tar sands oil would end up in Houston and Beaumont anyway, because that’s where the refining capacity and expertise are. It might have to come in smaller tankers that can fit all the way up into the ports. I don’t think the offshore supertanker terminals can handle the tar sands oil.

    I would rather have the pipeline than a bunch of small tankers. The tankers would put the Flower Gardens coral reef at risk.

  11. 11
    cry4turtles

    Reginald, cool article. Wonder what further research will reveal about turtle tears. Unfortunately, my ex gave me the name after I cried for days after he told me how turtle traps work. Despicable, utterly despicable.

  12. 12
    Synfandel

    Actually, it might still be refined on the gulf coast. Once it’s at a port, it can be shipped most anywhere else with a suitable port, for not too much.

    Or it might be refined on the Canadian east coast. The Irving refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, for example, currently gets its oil from Venezuela, the Persian Gulf, and the North Sea. I’m sure it would be happy to have a domestic supplier.

  13. 13
    Reginald Selkirk

    Francisco Bacopa #10:The tar sands oil would end up in Houston and Beaumont anyway, because that’s where the refining capacity and expertise are.

    So we can build a new pipeline, but we can’t build a new refinery?

  14. 14
    aaronbaker

    Yeesh. And we’re said to be the intelligent species.

  15. 15
    Modusoperandi

    felidae “Also, it is incredible how the number of jobs created by the pipeline is inflated–the WSJ recently said it [the Keystone XL pipeline] would create 42,000 jobs, which is obivously horseshit”
    It is not inflated. Most of those jobs are for the cleanup/s/.

  16. 16
    Francisco Bacopa

    Refining tar sands oil is tricky, many refineries can’t handle it. That’s why Keystone XL is planned to end in Houston and Beaumont, where there is already some underused capacity to handle the sludgy stuff and there are plans to expand that capacity in Beaumont. This is also the main concern that people in Texas have about Keystone XL. We are less worried about the pipeline itself than the possible release into the air of the solvents used to make the tar sands oil more fluid. That could become a part of life for 5-6 million people.

    Building a big refinery in Canada similar to what’s scheduled for Beaumont would likely be opposed in Canada. That’s why I suspect that the oil will end up in Texas anyway.

    Ideally there shouldn’t really be a great need for this oil because we really should be switching over to a post-petroleum economy much faster than we are. I don’t wanna see us hit 450+ppm of carbon dioxide.

  17. 17
    Modusoperandi

    Francisco Bacopa “Ideally there shouldn’t really be a great need for this oil because we really should be switching over to a post-petroleum economy much faster than we are. I don’t wanna see us hit 450+ppm of carbon dioxide.”
    Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Okay, bad news first….
    The bad news is that we won’t stop pulling it out of the ground until it’s gone. Also, there is no good news.

  18. 18
    CONWAY

    The pipeline won’t create 1000 new jobs. It will just replace truck driving jobs with pipeline jobs.

  19. 19
    kraut

    It is about time to ship the crude to a Canadian location and refining within Canada, instead of shipping to the US to refine it there with loss to our economy.
    After the disaster in Quebec only an idiot with its head buried firmly in his arse could oppose a pipeline.
    The stuff will get out of the ground – the demand is there, like it is with drugs. I posit that it is far safer to ship via pipeline than rail or truck.

    The pipeline through BC is opposed mostly by treehuggers mooching off the proceeds from the shale oil and gas of Northern BC, where I live but supported by a vast majority of us who live and work here to get the stuff out of the ground and are building a viable economy so the t’huggers can fly or drive to conferences condemning those who make a living from resource extraction.

    The majority of projects in our area however concern gas extraction (condensate an added benefit) and some major pipelines will be build to bring the stuff to NG liquification stations on the BC coast.

  20. 20
    Marcus Ranum

    So we can build a new pipeline, but we can’t build a new refinery?

    Seems like a no brainer to build the refinery up where, you know, the tar sands are. Save all the money on the pipeline and just sell the stuff locally. There must be something else going on…

  21. 21
    democommie

    “The pipeline through BC is opposed mostly by treehuggers mooching off the proceeds from the shale oil and gas of Northern BC, ”

    Or, mostly by people who stand to see their wilderness areas and anything else in the path of said pipeline degraded or destroyed by its construction or the inevitable spills. Meanwhile the greedy fucks who are having this built will be in their unspoiled gated communities.

    And you’re for that?

  22. 22
    greenspine

    The pipeline through BC is opposed mostly by treehuggers mooching off the proceeds from the shale oil and gas of Northern BC, where I live but supported by a vast majority of us who live and work here to get the stuff out of the ground and are building a viable economy so the t’huggers can fly or drive to conferences condemning those who make a living from resource extraction.

    Are all of your opinions this cartoonish and uniformed? I’m from Northern BC too and opposition to the pipeline cuts across people from all levels of society and people who work in all industries. Not to mention First Nations, who have a huge stake. In fact, the only people I’ve seen in favour have been oil industry shills or employees of the oil industries. Sorry if I don’t see your job as worth the risks that come with running a huge fragile pipeline through the wilds of my province. I just don’t.

  23. 23
    dingojack

    cry4turtles (#11) – what was your ex’s nym? The Griffin perhaps?
    Dingo (a.k.a. The Carpenter))

  24. 24
    kraut

    “I’m from Northern BC too and opposition to the pipeline cuts across people from all levels of society and people who work in all industries”

    I live in Fort St. John, the hub of gas activity in BC – where the wealth that finances much of the demands of BC social programs is produced. Up here you will find only a tiny minority opposed to the development of any pipelines, considering the fact that some major pipeline companies have their corporate seat here.

    i do not necessarily want to see wilderness destroyed, but you really did not argue against the salient point – that oil will find its way to the market, and I prefer a pipeline over transportation by rail and road.
    The fact of the rail disaster in Quebec has no comparison in loss of life or damage to any oil spill in NA.

    I was at the site of the pipeline spill in the Pine Pass, and smelled the oil from the camp I was setting up floating down the river. Two years later the traces were almost gone, no buildings were destroyed and no loss of life to be mourned.

    Our economy is for almost a century based on oil and gas production, and ALL of our lives no matter were you live is dependend on this industry as the bases of the most economic production, from agriculture to petrochemicals to transportation to heating. There is no other primary source at present that even comes close to replacing the “benefits” of oil and gas as a mobil source of energy, to heat and power.

    Since the worlds population is steadily increasing – how do you stop this demand? Does anyone really think that Canada has the power to really stop global interests from exploiting the tar sands? Is anybody really that naive?
    No. I advocate to make the best of a bad situation, create at least jobs for Canadians even if most of the profits go into foreign hands and be able to finance our much beloved programs like health care etc. and pretend we Canadians have any say of our resource extraction.

  25. 25
    cry4turtles

    Dingo #23, my ex was Seneca Indian. I called him “Smokes2much”.

  26. 26
    dingojack

    cry4turtles – He’s not related to this customer is he?
    :) Dingo

  27. 27
    democommie

    “i do not necessarily want to see wilderness destroyed,”

    Of course not, you just don’t give a fuck if it happens.

    Your arguments are the same bullshit arguments that are always made by people who have nothing other than personal economic interests. I’ve got a novel idea, move to the North Slope of Alaska; there’s plenty of energy there and the people who built it are really, Really, REALLY sorry about the environmental destruction.

    You should read some Farley Mowatt on the subject of economic interests trumping everything–even when the “goals” are transitory or even illusory.

  28. 28
    Baktru

    Heh about the molasses incident, two quotes from the company responsible:


    Senior Vice President Vince Angoco told the Associated Press there was no response plan in place for a molasses leak but the company was not required to have one.

    But also:


    We take our role as an environmental steward very seriously

    Heh.

    Yes we are very worried about the environment. If things go wrong? Well no there is no plan, it’s not required.

    Sense, it makes it.

  29. 29
    Baktru

    Also, this blog needs a “Like” button just for ModusOperandi.

  30. 30
    Synfandel

    kraut wrote:

    The majority of projects in our area however concern gas extraction (condensate an added benefit) and some major pipelines will be build to bring the stuff to NG liquification stations on the BC coast.

    If you think the Lac Mégantic explosion was nasty, wait until we get our first liquid natural gas (LNG) spill in a shipping port. The sea water, which is much warmer than the LNG, will evaporate it and spread it, making a fuel-air bomb on the scale of a hydrogen bomb. Prince Rupert (or potentially Vancouver, depending on where it’s exported) would be instantly vaporized.

    By the way, LNG is routinely shipped into Boston and New York”s harbours in supertankers. It’s a terrorist’s wet dream.

  31. 31
    Synfandel

    Baktru wrote:

    Also, this blog needs a “Like” button just for ModusOperandi.

    Like.

  32. 32
    Modusoperandi

    Baktru “Also, this blog needs a ‘Like’ button just for ModusOperandi.”
    Synfandel “Like.”
    Thanks. I try not to let comments like these go to my head. I mean, I fail. But I try.

  33. 33
    democommie

    “By the way, LNG is routinely shipped into Boston and New York”s harbours in supertankers. It’s a terrorist’s wet dream.”

    And if people like you hadn’t clued them in about inadequate security and the availability of utility knives, NINE-ELEVEN WOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED!!

  34. 34
    dogmeat

    I think the Canadian and XL situation is even worse than the opponents argue. As their pipeline(s) transport this sludge I think you’ll see greater and greater pressure to do the same thing with our own coal sands deposits. The damned pipelines would spread like cracks in a windshield. Al the while the argument will be made that they will reduce gas prices but the reality will be that they wont and wouldn’t even if producers wanted them to.

    This is why we need the infrastructure improvements for inter-and intra-city rail systems, a network that can handle more alternative energies, and an automobile industry that decreases rather than increases our reliance on fossil fuels. Whenever someone wants to tout the virtues of a market driven capitalist system I like to point out our own heroin-esque addition to fossil fuels and the fact that our major industries in our market driven system are the primary reason why no coherent plan to move away from these finite and damaging resources can be established.

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site