Monday, June 03, 2019

2,800 Years - Give or Take - to Clean Up Alberta's Petro-Mess

Let's just call it 'reclamation.' The return of Alberta's oil and bitumen fields to a pristine, natural state. The bad news? It could take up to 2,800 years. The good news? Mankind could be long gone by then but, give nature three or four millennia and it will do the job.  From the National Observer -
It may take more than 2,800 years to clean up some of the decommissioned oil and gas wells currently dotting Alberta’s landscape, a senior regulatory official warned in a recent presentation made privately to the industry. 
That means the burden of returning the land to a natural state — called reclamation — could fall on the next 93 generations. The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) official outlined the situation in a September 2018 presentation to oil and gas professionals as he made the case for stronger regulations.
...It’s unlikely that well-owning companies will be around to clean up the mess in a few hundred years, said Blake Shaffer, a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University who has studied well liabilities in Alberta. 
“This is a big issue, and we need some policy changes,” said Shaffer, who is also a C.D. Howe Institute fellow and economist at the University of Calgary. “These shouldn’t be things that are multi-generational.” 
National Observer obtained the presentation through a freedom-of-information request as part of a joint investigation with Star Calgary.
There's a whole lot of 'multi-generational' going on these days. That's how we kick our responsibilities down the road, offload them onto future generations that have not yet even come into being. If they're not already breathing voting, they really don't exist as such, do they? The guy who is voting, the guy who matters, he doesn't want to pay for this. The companies that created this mess, they surely don't want to pay for it. But those future generations - if you listen very, very closely it's amazing - you won't hear a peep out of them.

You see, you need plenty of sleight of hand parlour tricks when you want to pretend that there's value in something that really has no value. And that includes fudging the books. Making liabilities vanish by disappearing into the distant future is top drawer stuff. Making others bear the immediate risks of your reckless ventures is also a good one. Externalize, externalize, externalize everything you possibly can.

One thing you can count on. If you can keep the current generation off the hook for this massive liability, each succeeding generation will be even more unwilling to shoulder the cost. Why should they? They didn't make the mess. It wasn't their Mardi Gras so why should they get the hangover?


the salamander said...

.. just the other day, I came across a recent video clip of Rona Ambrose. The nut of her presentation was how impressed she was that Jason Kenney had won the Alberta Provincial election and how well that boded for the province and its 'energy industry'. The expected end to the shortage of pipelines was her main thrust, hell, her only thrust.. and how Alberta and 'oil' prices would suddenly and miraculously recover and prosper

In the near past, I have brought up her and her rodeo boy brokerage star lounging aboard their friend N. Murray Edwards' megayacht.. and that's where she was lounging when she complained about Justin Trudeau lounging aboard the Aga Khan's private island. Edwards of course = CNRL- Canadian Natural Resources & Calgary Flames & uh oh Mt Polley Mine ! Among many other holdings.. ski resorts, you name it.. natural gas, oil equipment supply.. the guy is the Roger Penske of resource extraction.

My point ? No Rona Ambrose did not mention that Jason Kenney did not mention REMEDIATION in his victory dance or the BUDGET BILL.. for Rona in her world (which does not include ordinary hard working Canadians) mentioning remediation while pimping Jason Kenney and HIS UCP would be rude to her good friend Murray.. even an insult.. some words are not to be spoken. The network peon from CTV or CBC failed to mention or probe in that regard.

There it was.. hanging there.. the chance to pin Rona Ambrose, Steven Harper and Jason Kenney to the wall with one sharp spearpoint.. and let her squirm and the interviewer copped out or truly is just plain stupid. Murray Edwards needs to answer.. or Steven Harper.. or even Andrew Scheer.. Jason Kenney, Joe Oliver.. anyone..

Murray Edwards probably knows to the dime what his holdings owe Canadians and Albertans in terms of pollution liabilities and could tell us all what his plans are to cover the bill, especially if his plan is just dumping the cost on us. When is Jason Kenney going to meet with Edwards and reveal to all of us.. how he will strong arm a solution. When does that great 'economist' Steven Harper emerge from his crypt to explain how 'he had no knowledge of these matters' .. nor was it 'on his radar'.. Andrew Scheer want to step up and tell us what the bible told him in a flash of faith based evangelical wisdom ??

Well then, how about Justin Trudeau or his mistress McKenney of Environment ? Rich Man Morneau ? Whomever the hell is on Resources ?

How the hell do we all feel about bankrupting Alberta.. or do we all just let it get worse and worse and worse..? We do know Justin and Jason are cooking up a scheme or scam or both.. to just let CNRL, Suncor et al.. start dumping and venting toxic residues downriver into major river systems after 'diluting' the tailings ponds with fresh upstream water.. all from the same river systems ! ! Does that remind you of Harper and Peter Kent 'regretfully' allowing boreal wolves to be poisoned via airdropped strychnine meat baits (and any nearby omniverous creatures) to pretend to be saving boreal caribou ??

These people are essentially criminals.. lying, deceiving, robbing us.. and robbing future generation.. or worse.. poisoning us by killing the atmosphere.. all while pretending they're OUR public servants. It does make me recall how Harper wanted to stack The Supreme Court .. and seed the lesser courts as well

The Mound of Sound said...

Sal, there is a growing school of thought that contends that these are criminals knowingly committing crimes against humanity, present and future. The day may come when these Titans of Carbon and their political facilitators do find themselves in the prisoners' dock. I dread to imagine what the world will look like by the time that happens.

Owen Gray said...

It's assumed that the solution will be the same one that was used to bail out the banks. But there will be no one left to pick up the tab.

the salamander said...

.. my long winded comment was solely and specifically re the leaching tailings ponds and leaking wells.. and closely related infrastructures. In no way was I attempting to address the overalldamage to OUR environment. I am will to exclude for now.. as its way over my head.. the damage to OUR atmosphere. Its connected of course.. intrinsic re CO2 & methane release, venting or escape.. but lets pit that aside for a bit, collect our wits and look at the terrestrial damage from fracking (whether for oil or natural gas etc) and from bitumin extraction overall. (further note - putting aside terrestrial damage from disturbed atmosphere and/or climate change)

So.. How does one.. or all of us understand the terrestrial cost / losses due to the extraction and transportation - delivery to market - sale. Broadly - the Land (forests, soil, habitat, species etc) and the Waters (wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes, coastal waters, shores, habitat, species) ?? Let's just try to identify the vast and integrated aspects of that !!! Never mind a price tag.. just try to identify the reality and repercussions.

Need I mention Tourism ? Or Recreation ? What commercial and sportfishing species will go extinct ? What lands & waters will be ruined.. what habitat, what creatures, what fresh water or salt water, what about the permafrost ? What about the wildfires ? More soil washed away by rains ? I am scratching the surface. What aquifers or water tables ruined ? Birds, bees.. other pollinators ?

(I'm getting even more angry.. and will not just pick up this thread later.. I will start injecting it into Twitter and Facebook.. perhaps in the form of blunt questions to 'public servants' - Mainstream Media .. KOP's - Key Opinion Leaders. These are BOMBSHELL QUESTIONS that must be addressed.. and not 'in due course' not 'in the fulsomeness of time' not by 'not on our radar' not with 'its the Economy stupid' not with sly, glib evasion or ignorance.. this is serious fuckery underway.. Alberta is a test bed .. every province is.. and the timing is NOW !!)

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, if the final tab comes in at even half the current estimate it's hard to imagine any government picking up the tab. We may end up sacrificing the Mackenzie River watershed.

The Mound of Sound said...

As these threats evolve and worsen they become more intractable and viable solutions more costly and uncertain. How can we cover all the bases? Sal, I suspect our resolve will be tested in the coming decade and we will be found wanting.