Tuesday, June 14, 2016

When the Fossil Fuelers Are Done, Ordinary Albertans Are Screwed.


Such is life in a petro-state. Alberta has about 150,000 abandoned or dormant wells, many of them on farmland. The farmers didn't want them but they couldn't stop them going in either. What they didn't understand is how they'd get screwed by the fossil fuelers on the other end, when the well ran dry.

In many cases the well is owned by a shell company, a subsidiary of a big energy producer. When it's making money the cash flows through the subsidiary to the parent. When the good times end, the parent lets the subsidiary fall into bankruptcy and walks away leaving the farmer holding the bag.

Bad as the situation is for the Alberta farmer, Ecojustice lawyer, Barry Robinson, says a far bigger calamity could be in store from the Tar Sands.

As of 2015, the provincial government held $1.6 billion in reclamation bonds to clean up the oilsands — that's against $21 billion in estimated clean-up costs. Alberta's auditor general raised concerns last summer that the province wasn't holding enough on deposit.

It's a very real possibility that, in the not too distant future, the Tar Sands could become a stranded asset, abandoned by investors, bankers and the energy giants. Someone is going to have to pony up nearly $20-billion for clean up and reclamation. This giant tailing ponds won't clean up themselves. Who do you think will be writing the cheque?



6 comments:

Boris said...

The fire could transpire to be a mortal blow to Alberta's economy. There isn't the money to reclaim and transform the Tar Sands, nor will there be unless part of some massive strategic effort by the national government. Fort Mac will not be rebuilt or repopulated to its former glory and the costs will effectively sink AB govt budget given the lack of revenue from a recessed economy.

The Tar Sands are a stranded asset now, and nobody in political office or in the oil companies will talk about this publicly because if they do, capital will flee the province as fast as the electrons move through the servers processing it, and the political and public backlash will be...

The Mound of Sound said...


If you're right, Boris, the people of Alberta are facing a massive predicament.

Troy Thomas said...

The Peabody Energy strategy. The moment you allow these ticks into your lands, and you don't get an upfront fee for the eventual cleanup, you lose.
What's especially galling is these energy super-giants absolutely had both the money and the political clout to be at the forefront of the next energy technology, which is driving it out of business, had they instead invested as much money into it as they did fighting climate change science.

The Mound of Sound said...


There does seem to be a hefty serving of nihilism in their corporate logic, Troy. Vision and long term planning don't seem to have much currency any more.

John's Aghast said...

There you go Chrispy. 100,000 jobs in clean-up, and you can probably add the oil to your LNG inventory!

The Mound of Sound said...

Just remember, John, who'll be picking up the tab - the people of Alberta and the Canadian public.