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Canada’s pipeline projects have been the focus of a series of mass demonstrations [Reuters]
|Two decades ago, deep within British Columbia’s coastal old-growth forests, a fierce battle was waged and won to preserve Clayoquot Sound from large-scale clearcutting.
The legendary clash between environmentalists and industry in Canada’s westernmost province sparked a new kind of eco-activism – and the biggest fight since is poised to play out in the months ahead, as the country moves closer towards approving a controversial oil pipeline to the Pacific coast.
Last month, project proponent Enbridge Inc received a substantial boost through a federally commissioned report, which recommended approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline – subject to a host of environmental and administrative conditions. Advocates say the pipeline, which would whisk more than 500,000 barrels of oil daily from the Albertan tar sands to supertankers in Kitimat, BC, would benefit the country by opening Canada’s oil industry to growing Asian and Pacific Rim markets. But environmental and aboriginal groups, whose lands the pipeline would cross, maintain it would threaten some of the country’s most precious natural resources.
While the federal Conservatives – who have vowed no project will be approved unless it is “safe for Canadians and safe for the environment” – have until July to consider the report and come to a final decision, it is widely expected the government will green-light the Northern Gateway. And once that happens, Chief Martin Louie of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation says aboriginal groups will swiftly launch court action.
“That’s the only avenue that we have to try to protect our rights,” Louie told Al Jazeera, speaking on behalf of a group of aboriginal bands known as the Yinka Dene Alliance, who have banned Enbridge’s pipeline from their territories under indigenous law. “Beautiful British Columbia – that’s what it should be for our kids too. The way I grew up enjoying the land and everything, I want my children and grandchildren to do too.”
Stamp of approval
The Northern Gateway twin pipeline would stretch 1,177km between Bruderheim in northern Alberta and the deep-water port of Kitimat, BC. The westward line would have the capacity to transport 525,000 barrels per day of oil for export, while the eastward line would carry up to 193,000 barrels per day of condensate, a product used to thin oil for pipeline transport.
The $8bn project has been years in the making; in 2009, Enbridge announced it was seeking regulatory approval, setting off a public and governmental review process that will culminate with this summer’s final decision.
A major part of that process was the independent joint review panel, mandated by the Environment Ministry and the National Energy Board, which delivered its final report last month.
Tasked with assessing the environmental, social and economic impacts of the pipeline, along with the effects of tanker traffic within Canadian territorial waters, the panel ultimately recommended approval of the project subject to 209 separate conditions. “We have concluded that the project would be in the public interest,” the panel noted in its final report. “We find that the project’s potential benefits for Canada and Canadians outweigh the potential burdens and risks.”
Enbridge has said it will work to meet all of the panel’s 209 conditions – which range from developing a marine mammal protection plan to researching the behaviour and cleanup of heavy oils – along with a broader set of five criteria, including addressing aboriginal land rights, for heavy oil pipeline development set out by the BC government.
“We remain hopeful that we can work to address all concerns that our opponents have in a mutual spirit of cooperation and collaboration,” Enbridge spokesperson Ivan Giesbrecht told Al Jazeera, calling the December report “just one important step in a long process”.
The company contends the Northern Gateway will deliver more than $270bn in GDP to Canada over 30 years, along with $300m in employment and contracts for aboriginal communities and billions more in tax revenue and labour-related income during construction. Enbridge and other advocates, including the Alberta government, have described the pipeline as key to diversifying Canadian crude oil exports to markets beyond the United States.
“Access to ocean ports for Alberta’s abundant resources is important to not just Alberta’s but Canada’s economic future,” Alberta Energy Minister Diana McQueen said, noting resource developers get a lower price in the North American market than they could globally. The situation is compounded by the stalled Canada-US Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which has been awaiting US government approval amid years of debate over its route and environmental impacts.
Opponents, meanwhile, question Enbridge’s employment numbers and suggest the pipeline’s economic benefits have been overstated. The Northern Gateway has generated a wall of opposition from aboriginals and environmental activists who cite the risk of an Exxon-Valdez-level oil spill in BC’s pristine coastal waters. Dozens of aboriginal bands have signed a declaration against the project, pledging to refuse Enbridge access to their lands and watersheds, including the salmon-stocked Fraser River.
In addition to the risk of spillage from the pipeline itself, Greenpeace Canada – which has criticised Enbridge’s history of spills and leaks – points out that the oil-loaded, Asia-bound supertankers would have to navigate “one of the trickiest marine routes in Canada”, passing by a series of small islands in the Douglas Channel. More than a year ago, Enbridge came under fire for releasing promotional materials in which the islands had apparently been erased from a rendering of the channel, in what critics called an effort to downplay the risks.
“Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline would stream the world’s dirtiest oil from northern Alberta to the BC coast and would be the catalyst for unbridled exploitation and potentially calamitous disturbance of our land, air, freshwater and marine environment,” said Chris Genovali, executive director of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation in Sidney, BC. Industrial activities accompanying the transportation of oil could destroy habitats for caribou, wolves, whales and wild salmon, he added.
Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen, the federal New Democratic MP for BC’s Skeena-Bulkley Valley, believes a major spill from either the pipeline or tankers over the 50-plus-year lifespan of the project is a certainty. “The ability to clean up bitumen in the water is virtually nil,” Cullen told Al Jazeera.
The Northern Gateway proposal faces an additional hurdle from BC’s provincial government, which has refused to lend support to the pipeline until Enbridge proves it will employ “world-leading practices” on oil-spill prevention and response, respect aboriginal rights and ensure the province gets a fair slice of the economic pie. “Enbridge hasn’t met any of the conditions yet,” government spokesperson Sam Oliphant said.
Legal fight ahead
Enbridge points out that it has already incorporated input from British Columbians and aboriginal communities, resulting in almost two dozen changes to the pipeline route and other alterations, such as thicker-walled pipes and an increased capability to respond to marine spills. In addition, the federal panel found Enbridge had taken steps to minimise the chances of a large spill “through its precautionary design approach and its commitments to use innovative and redundant safety systems”.
None of this is enough for the project’s opponents, who maintain the Northern Gateway will be a pivotal issue in the 2015 federal election – and set the stage for a landmark court fight.
The expected avalanche of legal cases upon the pipeline’s approval will tie it up for years, said Keith Stewart, climate and energy coordinator for Greenpeace Canada. And if the government tries to proceed regardless, he said, thousands of people have pledged to engage in peaceful civil disobedience, just as protesters did decades ago in Clayoquot Sound – using blockades and peaceful demonstrations to achieve their environmental goals.
The question of land ownership, meanwhile, is a complex one. Aboriginal rights are protected under section 35 of Canada’s constitution, but proving aboriginal title requires proof of use and occupation, said lawyer Drew Mildon, who works for a BC-based firm planning to represent aboriginals in the anticipated Northern Gateway court battle. While many aboriginal groups living along the pipeline route assert title and rights, they have not yet gone to court to prove them, Mildon told Al Jazeera.
“I have no doubt the governments will try to ram through the pipeline regardless of First Nations objections,” he said. “As a lawyer working for First Nations in BC, and given the overwhelming First Nations and public opposition here, I believe the pipeline will likely never happen.”
Stewart agreed, citing a failure on the part of Enbridge and the federal government to shore up public support for the pipeline.
“Without that support,” he said, “it won’t be built.”
Activists disrupt Harper event RAW 0:42
Two climate change activists managed to sneak up behind Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday just as he was getting ready to start a question and answer session at the Vancouver Board of Trade.
Sean Devlin and Shireen Soofi succeeded in getting past the prime minister’s security detail and onto the stage where Harper was sitting to protest his government’s climate change policies.
Devlin stood behind Harper holding a sign that read “Climate Justice Now.”
Soofi held up a sign saying “The Conservatives Take Climate Change Seriously,” with the sentence crossed out.
She was standing between the prime minister and Iain Black, the president of the board of trade, who was introducing Harper when the activists took the stage.
Both men kept their cool as the pair were escorted off the stage by security.
“I’d like to take a minute and have some folks removed from the stage,” Black said while the prime minister reached for a sip of water.
“It wouldn’t be B.C. without it,” Harper joked.
The crowd of business leaders applauded Harper as security removed the activists from the room.
Former prime minister Kim Campbell was also in attendance, along with Industry Minister James Moore and a handful of Conservative MPs from the region.
Anti-Harper protester behind disruption
The two activists had the help of Brigette DePape, who immediately issued a press release following the security breach bragging about the pair’s exploits.
DePape was fired as a Senate page in 2011 after walking onto the Senate floor carrying a “Stop Harper!” sign during the speech from the throne to protest against Harper’s policies.
“This morning two people directly intervened in a high-security question and answer session with Prime Minister Stephen Harper,” the release said.
“The group managed to make their way past police undetected and into the secured Vancouver Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel.”
Reached by telephone following the disruption, DePape said she was proud of the protest.
DePape told CBC News “it was very empowering” for the activists to get that close to the prime minister.
No comment from PMO
Despite the security breach, the Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment publicly.
Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for the prime minister, told CBC News in an email, “we don’t comment on security-related matters.”
Following the event, the president of the board of trade Vancouver Board of Trade was asked by reporters how the protesters got on stage.
“I would defer that to the Prime Minister’s Office,” Black said.
The head of the board said that when high-profile guests are invited to speak, security is handled by a number of agencies, from the Vancouver police to the RCMP.
Both protesters were initially detained by Vancouver police, but were later released.
Vancouver police told CBC News that no charges have been laid against the protesters, but that could change.
“We will be working with the protection detail of the RCMP at the event to determine if charges are going to be laid,” the police said.
The RCMP said it was reviewing the incident and would take “appropriate action,” but referred questions on charges to Vancouver police.
Harper ‘shrugged it off’
Black said he wasn’t shaken by the event and that he took his cue from the prime minister.
“I didn’t really get rattled by it. First of all, it happened very quickly. We all saw how quickly it was handled. I took the lead from the prime minister’s response, to be honest.”
“He didn’t seem rattled. He’s got full confidence in the team around him and that showed. He kind of shrugged it off, and there was no reason for me to do anything else,” Black said.
Richard Zussman, who was at the event reporting for CBC News, said in a post on Twitter that the activists “looked to be dressed as wait staff.”
DePape, in her press release, hinted that other events may be disrupted.
“These actions are taking place as part of a global movement of groups of who are directly confronting the fossil fuel industry, from First Nations legal challenges and blockading projects on their territories, to other forms of non-violent direct action.”
Harper did not take any questions from the media.
One of the more famous portraits of peak oil. Image: Wikimedia
In a year that saw the United States reach near-historic levels of fossil fuel production, it seemed that the words ‘peak oil’ were scarcely uttered. But it’s still a looming question, that we have yet to satisfactorily answer—when are we going to run out of oil? Have we already started to? A renowned geologist, and a former top analyst for BP no less, says the answer is yes.
“We are probably in peak oil today, or at least in the foot-hills,” Dr. Richard Miller said recently at a talk in London. According to the Guardian, Miller “prepared BP’s in-house projections of future oil supply for BP from 2000 to 2007,” and is bringing peak oil back into focus at the end of a petroleum-soaked year. He says that oil production has already peaked in 37 oil-producing countries, and that global production is declining at about 3.5 million barrels every year. Continued reliance on oil, and the coming shortage, will do nothing less than “break economies.”
Per the Guardian:
“We need new production equal to a new Saudi Arabia every 3 to 4 years to maintain and grow supply… New discoveries have not matched consumption since 1986. We are drawing down on our reserves, even though reserves are apparently climbing every year. Reserves are growing due to better technology in old fields, raising the amount we can recover– but production is still falling at 4.1% p.a. [per annum].”
Bottom line being, oil companies and governments are jazzed on new technologies and extraction techniques like fracking and tar sands—Exxon and co are running shiny ads touting domestic energy production—but none of that changes the fact that oil is running out. We’re getting better at scraping the bottom of the barrel, but you can only get so much.
“Production of conventional liquid oil has been flat since 2008,” Miller said. “Growth in liquid supply since then has been largely of natural gas liquids [NGL]—ethane, propane, butane, pentane—and oil-sand bitumen.”
Add Miller’s warnings to a long list of geologists, economists, and environmentalists who say we’re outrunning our dependence on the black gold. In 2008, the Germany-based Energy Watch Group proclaimed “peak oil is now.” In 2005, a group of respected geologists and physicists started the Oil Drum, and warned that demand had begun to outpace production. Their prognosis was repeatedly vindicated.
In 2009, the UK Energy Research Centre concluded that “A global peak is inevitable. The timing is uncertain, but the window is rapidly narrowing.” And even the US Department of Defenseforecast a shortage of oil as soon as 2015.
Which is to say, Miller finds himself in some pretty sterling company, and in a year where the nation had fossil fuels on the brain, his cautions are especially worth considering.
Domestic U.S. oil production is expected to grow much faster than was thought just a few months ago, according to a new report from the U.S. federal government, placing an even larger question mark on the future of Canada’s oilsands.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s preliminary outlook for 2014 predicts U.S. oil imports next year will be one million barrels per day less than previously forecast.
By way of illustration, Alberta’s total oil exports to the U.S. were 1.3 million barrels per day in 2011.
“With growth in both oil and natural gas production, we see the U.S. moving closer toward self-sufficiency, and there are some very interesting economic and geopolitical implications to all that,” EIA head Adam Sieminski said at a briefing, as quoted at Inside Climate News.
One of those “geopolitical implications” could be that President Barack Obama feels less pressure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the news site reported.
The news comes as Keystone builder TransCanada prepares to start operating the southern leg of the pipeline, which runs from an oil terminal in Cushing, Okla., to Gulf Coast ports in Texas.
At the same time, Canada’s oil industry is facing another competitive threat: The opening up of Mexico’s state-controlled oil industry. Mexico’s Congress recently passed a bill allowing foreign investment in the oil industry, whose production has been controlled by state-run Pemex for decades. It’s expected new investment will boost Mexican oil production.
“Adding Mexico’s oil and gas resources to world markets, given the U.S.’s tight oil and gas and Canadian oil sands, could have dramatic implications in the medium and long term,” Barclays analyst Michael Cohen wrote in a note to clients quoted at the National Post.
Between booming oil production from unconventional domestic sources, the oilsands and now Mexican oil exports, the U.S. will be spoiled for choice when it comes to sources of oil in the coming years.
Canadian oil has been selling at a “discount” in the U.S. for years, sometimes trading for 30 per cent below U.S. crude oil prices. Keystone backers say the pipeline will fix that by giving Canadian oil access to new markets, but the EIA’s report makes that less certain.
If there’s a bright spot for Canadian oil exporters in this, it’s that the U.S.’s oil boom won’t last that long. The EIA forecasts that domestic production will start leveling off in 2016, and then start declining in 2020.
The share of oil and other liquid fuels that comes from imports will fall to 25 per cent in 2016, the EIA said, but will then start to climb, reaching 32 per cent by 2040.
But natural gas production will continue to climb for decades after that, and that — combined with greater fuel efficiency for cars — means the U.S. will continue to become less reliant, overall, on energy imports through 2040, the EIA said.
Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline were quick to seize on the report.
“We simply don’t need this tar sands pipeline,” Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defence Council — a major Keystone opponent — told Inside Climate News.
Shawn Howard, a spokesman for Keystone builder TransCanada, begged to differ.
“Our customers have signed long-term commercial contracts because they understand the need for the oil that Keystone XL will bring to U.S. refineries,” he said. “We have a waiting list of customers interested in securing capacity on Keystone XL if it becomes available.”
Not all Keystone XL customers feel this way anymore. Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, which signed up to use the Keystone XL, said this week the pipeline is no longer needed.
But Continental Resources is betting that oil-by-rail, rather than pipelines, will be the solution going forward. Many observers have argued, in the wake of the Lac-Megantic disaster, that pipelines are a safer option than rail for transporting oil.
Shell Canada’s Jackpine oilsands mine expansion plan has received the go-ahead from Ottawa, despite the environment minister’s view that it’s “likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”
In a statement late Friday, environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq concluded that the effects from the 100,000-barrel-per-day expansion are “justified in the circumstances.”
The nearby Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation has said the project will violate several federal laws covering fisheries and species at risk, as well as treaty rights.
They said they had received so little information on how Shell plans to live up to conditions imposed on it by a federal-provincial panel that they asked Ottawa for a 90-day delay on the decision – originally expected Nov. 6 – to work some of those issues through.
They were granted a 35-day delay, but Friday’s decision didn’t even wait until that period was up.
Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, was outraged that the federal decision came as the government was still supposed to be in talks with the band about how the project’s effects were to be mitigated.
“They just kept us in the loop and strung us along and played games with us,” he said. “To them it’s all a game.”
- Northern Alberta band challenges Jackpine oilsands proposal
- Jackpine review panel won’t rule on First Nations challenge
- Court rules against aboriginal groups on Jackpine decision
- Supreme Court refuses First Nation’s appeal over oilsands expansion
Although all 88 conditions the review panel placed on the project are now legally binding, Adam said neither the government nor the company has explained how those conditions will be met.
Adam said the government’s move to go ahead despite the serious environmental consequences of the project leave the band little choice.
“This government has to realize we’ll be holding them accountable,” he said. “We’ll be looking at legal action and we’ll pursue this through legal action.”
Greenpeace speaks out against expansion
Greenpeace Canada issued a statement accusing the Harper government of putting the short term interests of oil companies ahead of environmental protection and First Nations treaty rights.
“Canada would be much better off diversifying its economy, investing inrenewables, green jobs and projects that get us out of this madness not deeper into it,” the statement said.
“How many more extreme weather events will it take till our Prime Minister realizes this is one problem he can’t mine his way out of?”
The Jackpine expansion would allow Shell to increase its bitumen output by 50 per cent to 300,000 barrels a day.
“We’re reviewing the recommendations and proposed conditions attached to the approval,” said Shell spokesman David Williams.
Williams added Shell must consult with the minority partners in the project – Chevron and Marathon – before making a formal decision to proceed.
Review panel suggests compensation for ‘irreversible damage’
A review panel concluded last July that the project was in the public interest but warned that it would result in severe and irreversible damage so great that new protected areas should be created to compensate.
The review concluded that the project would mean the permanent loss of thousands of hectares of wetlands, which could harm migratory birds, caribou and other wildlife and wipe out traditional plants used for generations.
It also said Shell’s plans for mitigation are unproven and warned that some impacts would probably approach levels that the environment couldn’t support.
Shell has said Alberta’s new management plan for the oilsands area will provide more concrete data to assess and mitigate environmental impacts.
The company has purchased about 730 hectares of former cattle pasture in northwestern Alberta to help compensate for the 8,500 hectares of wetland that would be forever lost.
Canada no longer knows how to sell anything to the world except oil and gas.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but if things keep going the way they are, it won’t be for long.
StatsCan’s latest numbers on Canada’s trade balance, released Thursday, look positive on the face of it: Exports and imports both grew, and Canada’s trade deficit with the world shrank by more than half, to $435 million.
But dig a little deeper into the data, and what you see is a story of two different export sectors. As BMO chief economist Doug Porter put it in a client note Friday morning, “there is energy (doing just fine) and there is everything else (doing anything but fine).”
While energy exports have seen a $63.6-billion surplus for the past 12 months, everything else has seen a $72.9-billion deficit.
Check out this chart of Canada’s trade balance for energy (blue) and everything else (red).
The gap between energy and everything else is translating into a regional divide in Canada — between the booming, oil-reliant West and the plodding economy of the rest of the country.
“The rapid pace of oilsands development is creating economic risks and regional disparities that need to be addressed,” the left-leaning Pembina Institute said in a report released this week.
The report said the “overwhelming majority” of economic benefits from the oilsands boom “are limited to Alberta. Other provinces will benefit less: even the United States would gain more employment opportunities from the oilsands than the rest of Canada if oilsands development goes ahead as projected.”
Bringing more jobs to the oilsands wouldn’t work as a solution; the oil, gas and mining sector employs 225,000 people, compared to 1.5 million jobs in manufacturing. Booming oil exports simply can’t replace stagnating factory exports. (Incidentally, jobs in oil, gas and mining actually fell by about 0.2 per cent over the past year.)
In a report this week, BMO’s Porter called Canada’s stagnating export sector the country’s biggest economic challenge.
“Since 2000, Canadian exports have suffered through their own version of the lost decade, with volumes essentially unchanged over that spell,” Porter wrote.
“To put that in perspective, the next slowest 13-year stretch for real exports over the past half-century was 42 per cent growth from 1970-83.”
Porter notes that manufacturing employment in Canada — which is heavily dependent on exports — has shrunk by 20 per cent since 2000, even as jobs in the rest of the economy grew by a bit more than 20 per cent.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the auto industry, once one of the major drivers of central Canada’s economy. Vehicle production is down nine per cent this year — and that’s despite a global boom in auto sales
And the worst may be yet to come. Analyst Joe McCabe recently told an auto industry conference he expects car manufacturing to shrink another 28 per cent over the next decade.
So what’s to blame for this? Porter notes that the last 13 years of stagnation coincide with “the long upward march of the loonie,” which bottomed out around 62 cents U.S. in 2002 and steadily climbed to parity by 2008. The rising dollar has made Canadian exports more expensive on the global market.
That “played a key role in undercutting the manufacturing sector in particular,” Porter writes, though he’s cautious not to blame the rising loonie on oil exports — the old “Dutch Disease” debate.
But the Pembina Institute has little doubt Dutch Disease is Canada’s diagnosis.
“Recent analysis suggests that surging commodity prices explain as much as 40 to 75 per cent of the dollar’s rise,” the Pembina Institute said, referring to the loonie’s reputation as a “petro-currency.”
The report urges the government to launch a federal committee to look at the problem and recommend solutions “to ensure a robust, diverse economy that supports economic growth and competitiveness across Canada.”
A fascinating talk by J. David Hughes, a research fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, given at Cornell Universtiy on 5-2-12, “Energy Sustainability Dilemma : Powering the Future in a Finite World”. Most of the easy energy is gone. Now we are pursuing Deep Ocean Drilling, Tar Sands, Fracked Shale Gas, etc. Are we heading for a dead end? What about Wind and Solar? Can they make up the difference? This talk is somewhat technical, but essential if we are to understand our energy options as our society pushes for more energy The slides are here.
This post is written for those who hold the view, understandably, that peak-oil may be a hoax. I sometimes forget that skepticism of corporate power distorted by bubble-vision makes the study of peak-oil seem like the quest of a knave.
But if it’s not a ruse, the ramifications are vast. And it’s my contention that most people view technology, energy, and its related solutions with an irrational, often theocratic belief. I want to skip the numbers, if possible, and simply suggest that the issue called peak-oil deserves serious reflection.
Some things just stick in your mind… I remember finishing Matthew Simmons’ Twilight in the Desert before the book was actually released in Great Briton. Apparently, I considered it thatimportant. It was the most difficult book I’d ever read. Well written for the subject matter, but it was a mountain of data and dry as hell. I’d already digested other peak-oil related books; Kunstler’sThe Long Emergency was the most enjoyable. But I needed to scrutinize Simmons to eliminate possible misinterpretations. His extensive and conservative background, as a high powered energy investment banker, was essential for balance. I’ve also read a few books regarding economic collapse and, in my view, the two are hopelessly interconnected.
First, the definition. Peak refers to the top of a standard bell curve, of production, formed on a chart. It goes up, rolls over, and then goes down. Oil refers to crude, coming out of the ground. It does not represent coal, tar-sand, corn, or solar cells. Peak-oil refers to the irrefutable fact that oil-wells are discovered, tapped, drained, then abandoned. And if something like “abiotic” oil is mysteriously refilling them, it’s painfully slow. Once you acknowledge a limit, the question on peak-oil becomes when – not if.
US oil production peaked around 1970, and it did this because America was first to explore and exploit crude-oil in a big way. This massive historical trend is essentially unaffected by environmentalists and regulation. US/Peak-oil/Historical fact; short & simple, but also understand that peak-production follows peak-discovery.
There’s no getting around it, the same fate awaits the rest of the world; as the planet wide drop in discoveries and aging production begin to confirm. But it’s the resurgence of nuclear and coal, plus the recent assumed cost effectiveness tar-sand and other solutions that sound the alarm. Regardless, the fact remains; no alternative exists to replace any reasonable fraction of 80+ million barrels of crude oil per day, every day.
It’s a bit early to check the rear-view-mirror, but… “Energy Information Administration data showed world supply of crude oil has declined to 83.98 million barrels per day in the second quarter after hitting 84.35 million bpd in the fourth quarter of 2005.” When the drop off occurs and continues, the affects cascade.
Obscuring this unfolding reality is a less-than-obvious industrial complex that renders copper, suburbia, wind turbines, and modern food production as products of a fossil fuel infrastructure.The list is long, the interconnections incomprehensible; because much of technology itself is a byproduct of energy derived from oil. Adding insult to injury, unrealistic expectations are propagated by failures to discern false alternatives. Case in point, tropical sugar cane biofuel for a country with a few cars vs. temperate corn biofuel for a country with a lot of cars.
Our civilization doesn’t just run on oil; it was built on, maintained with, and continues to function as a result of cheap-oil; and lots of it. Picking the low hanging fruit doesn’t mean you’re out, it means continued harvesting requires more work for the same yield. Regarding crude, once you’ve harvested half the deposit, energy input increases as petroleum output decreases. Energy Returned over Energy Invested.
We’ve been pulling oil from the earth for over a hundred years, and the current rate of over eighty million barrels per day is more than any period in history. Clearly the opposite of running out; butrunning-out isn’t the problem, at this time. It’s producing less that can be catastrophic. Remember, peak-oil refers to crude-oil max production; not tar-sands or coal. In some respects, it’s even a distraction to think of the down-slope as costing more money; as in money to produceoil-energy. More importantly, it costs more energy to produce energy. ERoEI
Notice also that the concepts of energy and technology are often used interchangeably. They go hand in hand, but they’re not synonymous. And how much clean natural gas are we willing to squander fabricating usable liquid fuels from tar sands? As I recently read, this may be akin to using “caviar to make fake crab-meat.” The upside of Hubbert Peak grew human population to levels never-before possible. On the downside we deal with it; a commodities bullfight.
History provides myriad examples of market bubbles. At the end of 2006 we consider the housing bubble. A larger bubble yet is the bubble economy itself, and an argument could be made for the largest bubble of all time. Spending half the earth’s endowment of ancient sunlight, in synergistic combination with an international, century long expansion-of-credit, produced the jet-powered Keynesian misallocation of resources – that is, the Bubble of Civilization.
- Peak Oil Was A Lie (peakoil.com)
- No need to panic about ‘peak oil’ (peakoil.com)
- Researchers address economic dangers of “peak oil” (rdmag.com)
- Tragedy of the Commons- Peak Oil (greenznthingz.wordpress.com)
As almost everyone knows by now, Canada has some interesting challenges looming when it comes to transporting increasing oil production to markets both inside and outside of Canada. What many Canadians might not realize is how important oil exports are to Canada’s economy. Canada has the world’s third largest proven oil reserves, is the fifth largest exporter of crude oil, and is the fifth largest producer of crude oil in the world. And that’s only expected to grow: According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, production of oil from Alberta’s oil sands is expected to more than double by 2030, rising from the 2012 level of 3.2 million barrels of oil per day to 6.7 million barrels per day.
What would that mean for the Canadian economy? In 2011, CERI, the Canadian Energy Research Institute projects that investments and revenues from new oil sands projects would be approximately $2-billion over the period from 2010 to 2035, with a total GDP impact of $2.1-billion in Canada. Employment, both direct and indirect stemming from new oil sands investments is projected to grow from 75,000 jobs in 2010 to over 900,000 jobs by 2035. And CERI’s estimate is somewhat more conservative than CAPP’s, estimating oil production at only 5.4 million barrels per day by 2035….
- Pipeline – Oil and Economy or Environmental Disaster? (netnewsledger.com)
- Oil sands facts that will blow your mind (mining.com)
- Tar Secret #2: What percentage of Canada’s GDP comes from the tar sands? (vancouverobserver.com)
- Scraping the barrel (nzherald.co.nz)