Wednesday, December 04, 2013
New Tanker Proposal - Smoke & Mirrors?
As I read the story, two words came to mind - "dry judgment." That's when a party wins a judgment against another party that has no assets. The judgment is dry, useless.
The Times Colonist reports that some unnamed, government-appointed panel has released a 66-page report calling for improvements to oil tanker operations on the west coast.
The key recommendation, apparently, is the removal of the current $161-million liability cap for an oil spill in favour of unlimited liability.
Okay, sure. We know the decades old and still ongoing Exxon Valdez tanker catastrophe has already exceeded something in the order of $6-billion and that was a relatively small tanker load of conventional crude oil, not a megatanker spill of the far more troublesome diluted bitumen or dilbit.
Removing the liability cap sounds good - in theory - but it's meaningless if the party responsible doesn't have the wherewithal to pay. A judgment for six or twenty-billion dollars against a company that has a couple of hundred million in assets is worth a couple of hundred million dollars, no more.
Now, a judgment for twenty-billion dollars jointly and severally backed by Enbridge, the dilbit producer/exporter, and the province of Alberta, well that might just be worth something. Maybe we'd settle for Jasper or Banff, maybe both. You get the idea.