That's just common sense. It's not rocket science.
Someone, however, doesn't want that solution. They want to send big volumes of a light oil called diluent to Athabasca so that it can be mixed with the sludgy bitumen so that, with heat and high pressure, that sludge including its toxic components - the "sand" and various acids, heavy metals, assorted carcinogens and the highest carbon form of coal known to man, granulated pet coke.
All that garbage is then loaded into the hold of a supertanker for delivery to a refinery in another country where it's processed, some of it coming back to Canada as finished products at big price markups.
We deliver the crud to a foreign refinery at a great discount - because it's crud - and they process it and sell it some of it back to us at a great profit. They get the economic activity. They get the associated jobs. They pocket the big profits. We take the big risks associated with pipeline spills and massive catastrophic damage to our coastal ecology when a tanker eventually founders and sinks. In other words, somebody is making out like a bandit on this deal and it's not us.
Here's an idea. How about we build refineries and process the crud on site. Fully refine it into finished prices. Canadian oil products for the Canadian market. Minimize the environmental risks associated with transporting hazmat dilbit. Employ Canadians to work in Canadian refineries. And, by keeping those oil products in the Canadian market we will truly reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Curiously enough, our premiers and our prime ministers, never want to talk about the refine on site option. They don't want to talk about harm reduction. They don't want to talk about supplying our own market with our own products, keeping the processing profits in-country.
One possible reason for Trudeau and Notley dummying up is that Canada's refineries are an "embarrassment."
The Imperial Oil Refinery in Sarnia, Ont., and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Detroit. MI., have much in common: geography, climate and production levels.
What separates them is a 90-minute drive, a national border and starkly different emission levels for some key pollutants.
Sarnia’s Imperial Oil refinery emitted 10 times more fine particulate matter, seven times more carbon monoxide and 49 times more sulphur dioxide than the Detroit plant.
The average Canadian refinery produced less oil while emitting substantially higher rates of sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides compared with the U.S. average in 2014, the data shows. For example:
Canada’s tiny fleet of 15 refineries emitted 62 per cent more sulphur dioxide (SO2) than 127 U.S. plants combined in 2014. Fourteen out of 15 refineries in Canada would have to cut their sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions by at least half to meet the average level of emissions in the U.S., the data shows. Of those, nine of them would need a reduction of 90 per cent or more to reach the U.S. average. Exposure to SO2 can harm the respiratory system and make breathing difficult, especially for those with asthma.
Eleven of the 15 Canadian refineries would need to cut nitrogen oxides emissions by at least half to reach the U.S. average.
Nine of the 15 would need at least a 50 per cent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions to reach the U.S. average.
In 2001, federal, provincial and industry officials agreed to move Canadian refinery emissions in line with U.S. benchmarks — a goal that remains far from complete 17 years later.The west is no better.
“It's almost mind boggling when you look at these numbers,” said Elaine MacDonald, an environmental engineer with the non-profit EcoJustice. “It would be quite an embarrassment to Canada for this data to be made public because it does show how far behind we are compared to the U.S.”
Regina’s Co-Op Refinery Complex emitted more than seven times the U.S. average for VOCs in 2014 and eight times the average for benzene — a chemical known to cause cancer —according to the data.EnviroMin, Dame Cathy, declined to be interviewed.
The same year, the Parkland Burnaby Refinery in B.C. (then owned by Chevron) gushed nine times as much sulphur dioxide as the ConocoPhillips plant an hour’s drive away in Washington state — even though it processed only 53 per cent as much oil.
Is this part of the answer to Justin's pipeline fetish? We can't allow the crud to be refined here, the emissions would be massive. It's easier just to ship it to American refineries, cleaner refineries.
Such is life in a petro-state.