Saturday, June 29, 2013
The Enbridge Tantrum, Oliver's Deceit
When it comes to the merits of the Northern Gateway pipeline, lawyers for the bitumen traffickers almost go apoplectic complaining about the lack of existing pipeline capacity. They come across like little children throwing tantrums.
Question: if it's capacity they're worried about, why are they squandering 50% or more of what they already have?
30% of what they're transporting is condensate, light hydrocarbon (oil) that has to be mixed with bitumen so that, with enough heat and pressure, it will move through pipelines. They need condensate because bitumen is tarry sludge, hence the reference to "Tar Sands."
So there's your first 30% squandered capacity - condensate. But, as they say on TV, there's more.
The bitumen we ship also contains 15 to 30% petroleum coke, a granular form of coal. It's really wicked stuff, high in sulphur, high in carbon, too high to be burned by any scrupulous country, including the U.S.
There you have the two big lies. It's not oil, it's tar. It's not sand, it's granular, high-carbon/high-sulphur coke.
We can free up plenty of pipeline capacity simply by not stuffing the existing pipeline with condensate, petcoke, sulphur, acids, abrasives and carcinogens. There's a way to leave all that stuff out - simply refine it all out - on site, in Athabasca.
Turn it into synthetic crude - on site, in Athabasca. Then refine that crude into the standard variety of marketable products - on site, in Athabasca. Keep those processing revenues and all those jobs - on site, in Athabasca.
More revenue and more savings. Supertankers wouldn't be needed to deliver condensate to British Columbia so it could be piped out to Athabasca and piped right back again. And, stripped of the large volumes of condensate, petcoke and other contaminants, it would be possible to slash the volume of supertankers needed to transport the end product, fully refined petroleum products, to markets in Asia.
But wait, there's more.
When it comes to handling and inevitable spills, comparing refined oil products to bitumen is like comparing apples to hand grenades. When spilled, the condensate quickly evaporates out and the sludgy bitumen sinks to the bottom which, in the Kitimat area, tends to be around 600-feet down, roughly six hundred feet beyond the reach of any spill recovery technology. It will contaminate the area for decades, generations, slowly leeching out its acids, toxins and carcinogens into the marine habitat.
Bottom line - if you have the ability to ship apples or hand grenades, you owe it to us to send apples, not explosive ordinance. So, Joe Oliver, don't claim it's apples all around when you've got the pin from that grenade clenched in your teeth. Now, very slowly, let's see what's in your hand.