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Water shortages have put the US oil and gas industry on a “collision course” with other users because of the large volumes needed for hydraulic fracturing, a group of leading investors has warned.
Almost 40 per cent of the oil and gas wells drilled since 2011 are in areas of “extremely high” water stress, according to Ceres, a network of investors that works on environmental and social issues. It highlights Texas, the heart of the US oil boom, and companies including Chesapeake Energy, EOG Resources, ExxonMobil and Anadarko Petroleum as the heaviest users of water.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is essential for extracting oil and gas from the shale formations that have been responsible for the US boom of the past decade, and it requires large volumes of water: typically 2m gallons or more per well. The water is mixed with sand and chemicals and pumped underground at high pressure to open up cracks in the rock so the oil and gas will flow more freely. The water that flows back out again is often poured away into separate disposal wells.
Water shortages can create tensions with local communities and force companies into expensive solutions such as bringing the water to the wells by truck.
Monika Freyman of Ceres said water was a risk that was often overlooked. “People don’t worry about it until it’s gone,” she said. “If you are an investor in a company that is in a water-stressed area, you have to ask questions about how it is managing their water risks.”
Shareholders including the employee pension funds of New York city and state said this week they would file resolutions for the annual meetings of companies including Exxon, Chevron, EOG and Pioneer Natural Resources, calling for more detailed disclosure of their environmental impact, including water use.
Ceres identified Anadarko, Encana, Pioneer and Apache as the companies with the greatest exposure to water risk, meaning the greatest volume of water use in areas with extremely high stress. In those areas, 80 per cent or more of the available water has been committed for other users including homes, farms and businesses.
Exxon said XTO, its shale oil and gas subsidiary, “works with local authorities to ensure there is adequate supply.” It added that coal needed ten times as much water as gas produced through fracking for an equivalent energy content, and corn-based ethanol needing up to 1,000 times as much water.
Anadarko said it was “on the leading edge” of efforts to manage and conserve water, including recycling it wherever possible, and drawing on a range of sources such as municipal effluent and produced water from oil and gas wells. It is also working with environmental groups and others to develop best practices for water use.
Fracking accounts for a relatively small proportion of US water demand: less than 1 per cent even in Texas, according to a University of Texas study, compared to 56 per cent for irrigation. However, in some areas with the greatest oil and gas activity, such as the Eagle Ford shale of south Texas, it can be much more significant.
The potential problem in Texas is exacerbated by the protracted drought that has affected the state and the growth in its population caused by the strength of its economy.
Jean-Philippe Nicot of the University of Texas said the state’s farmers were using less water for irrigation and shifting to crops that could cope with drier conditions. “More and more water is needed for urban centres, and fracking is part of the picture,” he said.
“All the Texas aquifers are heavily taxed right now.”
Wood Mackenzie, the consultancy, argued in a report last year that the industry would need to address the issue to be able to develop shale oil and gas production around the world, with many of the most promising reserves in China, Africa and the Middle East in areas of water scarcity.
Jim Matheson of Oasys Water, a company that develops water treatment technology, predicted an “inexorable but slow” movement towards recycling.
“We’re very early in the evolution, but the future is one in which we’re going to have to figure out how to clean and reuse the same water resources,” he said.
If the extreme drought in the western half of the country keeps going, the food supply problems that we are experiencing right now are only going to be the tip of the iceberg. As you will see below, the size of the U.S. cattle herd has dropped to a 61 year low, and organic food shortages are being reported all over the nation. Surprisingly cold weather and increasing demand for organic food have both been a factor, but the biggest threat to the U.S. food supply is the extraordinary drought which has had a relentless grip on the western half of the country. If you check out the U.S. Drought Monitor, you can see that drought conditions currently stretch from California all the way to the heart of Texas. In fact, the worst drought in the history of the state of California is happening right now. And considering the fact that the rest of the nation is extremely dependent on produce grown in California and cattle raised in the western half of the U.S., this should be of great concern to all of us.
Since Christmas, cucumbers supplies from Florida have almost ground to a halt and the Mexican supply is coming but it’s just not ready yet.
And as the basic theory of economics goes, less supply drives up prices.
Take organic berries for example:
There was a strawberry shortage a couple weeks back and prices spiked.
Experts say the primary reasons for the shortages are weather and demand.
And without a doubt, demand for organic food has grown sharply in recent years. More Americans than ever have become aware of howthe modern American diet is slowly killing all of us, and they are seeking out alternatives.
Due to the tightness in supply and the increasing demand, prices for organic produce just continue to go up. Just consider the following example…
A quick check on the organic tree fruit market shows that the average price per carton for organic apples was $38 per carton in mid-January this year, up from an average of just $31 per carton last year at the same time. At least for apple marketers, the organic market is heating up.
Personally, I went to a local supermarket the other day and I started to reach for a package of organic strawberries but I stopped when I saw that they were priced at $6.99. I couldn’t justify paying 7 bucks for one package. I still remember getting them on sale for $2.99 last year.
Unfortunately, this may only be just the beginning of the price increases. California Governor Jerry Brown has just declared a water emergency, and reservoirs throughout the state have dropped to dangerously low levels.
Unless a miracle happens, there is simply not going to be enough water to go around for the entire agriculture industry. The following is an excerpt from an email from an industry insider that researcher Ray Ganorecently shared on his website…
Harris farms has released a statement saying they will leave about 40,000 acres fallow this year because the FEDS have decided to only deliver 10% of the water allocation for 2014. Lettuce is predicted to reach around $5.00 a head (if you can find it). Understand the farmers in the Salinas valley are considering the same action. So much for salad this summer unless you grow it yourself.
The reason why the agriculture industry in California is so important is because it literally feeds the rest of the nation. I shared the following statistics yesterday, but they are so critical that they bear repeating. As you can see, without the fruits and vegetables that California grows,we would be in for a world of hurt…
The state produces 99 percent of the artichokes grown in the US, 44 percent of asparagus, a fifth of cabbage, two-thirds of carrots, half of bell peppers,89 percent of cauliflower, 94 percent of broccoli, and 95 percent of celery. Leafy greens? California’s got the market cornered: 90 percent of the leaf lettuce we consume, along with and 83 percent of Romaine lettuce and 83 percent of fresh spinach, come from the big state on the left side of the map. Cali also cranks a third of total fresh tomatoes consumed in the U.S.—and 95 percent of ones destined for cans and other processing purposes.
As for fruit, I get that 86 percent of lemons and a quarter of oranges come from there; its sunny climate makes it perfect for citrus, and lemons store relatively well. Ninety percent of avocados? Fine. But 84 percent of peaches, 88 percent of fresh strawberries, and 97 percent of fresh plums?
Come on. Surely the other 49 states can do better.
Are you starting to understand how much trouble we could be in if this drought does not end?
About now I can hear some people out there saying that they will just eat meat because they don’t like vegetables anyway.
Well, unfortunately we are rapidly approaching a beef shortage as well.
On January 1st, the U.S. cattle herd hit a 61-year low of 89.3 million head of cattle.
The biggest reason for this is the 5 year drought that has absolutely crippled the cattle industry out west…
Back in the late fall 2013 there was a freak snowstorm that killed close to 300,000+ cattle. This is a major hit to the cattle market.
I know in Texas where they still have a 5 year drought they are dealing with, they are having to ship grass bails in from Colorado, Utah and other parts of the country just to feed the cattle. Ranchers are sending their female cattle to the slaughter houses becasue they can not afford to feed them anymore. It is the females that help re-stock the herd. SO if you are slaughtering your females, your herd does not grow. It is expected that the US will not see cattle herd growth returning until 2017, maybe even later.
This is a problem which is not going away any time soon.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. cattle herd has gotten smaller for six years in a row, and the amount of beef produced is expected to drop to a 20 year low in 2014…
The U.S. cattle herd contracted for six straight years to the smallest since 1952, government data show. A record drought in 2011 destroyed pastures in Texas, the top producing state, followed the next year by a surge in feed-grain prices during the worst Midwest dry spell since the 1930s. Fewer cattle will mean production in the $85 billion beef industry drops to a 20- year low in 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
It would be hard to overstate how devastating this ongoing drought has been for many ranchers out west. For example, one 64-year-old rancher who lives in Texas says that his herd is 90 percent smallerthan it was back in 2005 because of the drought…
Texas rancher Looney, who is 64 and has been in the cattle business his whole life, said his herd is still about 90 percent below its size from 2005 because of the prolonged dry weather. It will take years for the pastures to come back, even if there is normal rainfall, he said. About 44 percent of Texas was in still in drought in the week ended Jan. 7, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
And it isn’t just the U.S. that is dealing with this kind of drought. The largest freshwater lake in China that was once about twice the size of London, England has almost entirely dried up because of the ongoing drought over there.
Meanwhile, global demand for food just continues to rise.
If this drought ends and the western half of the nation starts getting lots of rain, this could just be a temporary crisis.
However, the truth is that scientific research has shown that the 20th century was the wettest century in the western half of the country in 1000 years, and that we should expect things to return to “normal” at some point.
So is that happening now?
Just because things seem like they have always been a certain way does not mean that they will always stay that way.
Things out west are rapidly changing, and in the end it is going to affect the lives of every man, woman and child in the United States.
Once Manhattan is under water, the northern Canadian city of Yellowknife could become North America’s city of the future. Photo: Hyougushi.
As scientists continue to revise their climate predictions for the worse, it’s clear that the time has passed for the world to avoid serious consequences from global warming.
With superstorms and floods competing with droughts and wildfires to break records somewhere around the world year-round, the weather is already getting pretty weird. So now, the real question is how best to prepare for even weirder weather in the future.
Should you move to someplace safer or should you stay where you already have family, friends and connections to the community?
Everybody seems to agree that, if you live in Miami, you should move just about anyplace else except New Orleans, Bangladesh or Kiribati as soon as you can.
In a Rolling Stone piece provocatively titled “Goodbye Miami,” Jeff Goodell writes that “by century’s end, rising sea levels will turn the nation’s urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin.”
But if you live elsewhere, you’ve got a harder decision to make.
Choose hipsters or get hip-waders
Environmental blog Grist offers ten cities that it predicts will be spared the worst impacts of climate change.
Topping the list is Seattle, whose eco-awareness could cancel out the vulnerability to sea-level rise and storms of its coastal location. “Higher tides and a redrawn coastline will requirecoastal cities to adapt, but unlike a lot of U.S. burgs, Seattle is taking it seriously, developing a comprehensive climate action plan [PDF] and working to bolster food security and general resilience for changing times,” writes author Jim Meyer. With tongue-in-cheek, Meyers adds that “Plus, while models foresee flooding [for Seattle], they don’t project the hipster inundation to reach Portlandic levels. And in a worst-case scenario, the Space Needle serves as an escape pod.”
Meyer thinks that climate action plans will also help make coastal cities Homer, Alaska and San Francisco safer than New York, San Diego and of course Miami that are on Grist’s companion list of “screwed” cities that remain unprepared for superstorm hell and high water.
Inland cities including Detroit, Cleveland and Nashville as well as mountain town Leadville, Colorado also score well as climate-safe cities. Not only are they far from rising seas and coastal storms but they also have ample water supplies, a big bonus in a climate where many dry areas will get even drier.
By contrast, desert boomtowns like Phoenix or Las Vegas or even the whole state of Texas are already starting to become uninhabitable as rain disappears, wells dry up, topsoil blows away and wildfires consume brittle forests. And talk about screwed — gas fracking in dry areas is just going to make already stressed water supplies collapse more quickly.
Doomed to wander
A real climate doomer may tell you that we’re all screwed. Since climate change effects on local weather are unpredictable, you can’t predict which places will be winners and losers in a chaotic future either.
Global climate is a system too complex for us to say for sure what will happen in any one place. For example, before it disappears under rising seas, New York City could develop the hot, humid climate of Charleston. Or, if warming seas turn off the Gulf Stream, Manhattan could instead be buried under a glacier, as in the 2004 climate disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow. In climate chaos, all bets are off.
The only certainty for the climate doomer is that most places will become more dangerous. So, the best chance of survival lies in becoming a permanent nomad, ready to move as climate conditions change.
North to survival
But a slightly less doomerish eye seems to have settled on the frozen North as humanity’s last redoubt.
Six years ago, James Lovelock, of Gaia-hypothesis fame, grimly predicted that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”
Since then, Lovelock has backed off, calling his previous view “alarmist” while explaining that “the climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world…[The temperature] has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising – carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.”
American Exodus: Climate Change and the Coming Flight for Survival by Giles Slade, New Society, 270pp, $19.95.
Writer Giles Slade is not reassured. In American Exodus: Climate Change and the Coming Flight for Survival, he contends that, unless you already live in northern Canada, you should be afraid-very-afraid of what climate change will do to the place where you live.
“Because we regularly deny or underestimate the reality of climate change’s existence, ” Slade warns, “climate change will, by definition, come sooner than we expect.”
Slade reminds us that history is filled with migrations of peoples across vast stretches of territory. And he contends that many of the most famous migrants, from the Asians who crossed the Bering Straight land-bridge into North America during the last ice age to the Okies of the 1930s Dust Bowl, were actually refugees from climate change crises of the past.
Today, Slade already sees desertification driven by climate change creeping north from Mexico into Texas, California and the Great Plains, destroying farms, stressing local economies and sending waves of environmental refugees to wetter areas.
Coincidentally, California’s governor recently declared a drought emergency in the state.
With rising sea levels and storms set to pummel both East and West Coasts in coming years, Slade worries that his own hometown — painfully eco-friendly Vancouver — may only have a decade or two of glory days left.
Certainly, climate change and economic collapse will drive outmigration from the continental United States into Canada. People will flee for their lives, just as 100,000 Africa-Americans fled the south when the boll weevil changed Dixieland’s cotton-economy. Just as with Mexican migration to the United States, the number of people in motion will be so large it will be impossible to stem the tide.
So, rather than trying to fortify its 5,525 miles of unprotected border with the U.S., Canada should just get used to the idea that it may soon be overrun by millions of Yankees. Indeed, Slade thinks that both nations should start preparing to transfer North American civilization to the one place where it will be safe from the ravages of climate change — inland northwestern Canada.
“The safest places,” Slade writes, “will be significant communities in the north that are not isolated, that have abundant water, that have the possibility of agricultural self-sufficiency, that have little immediate risk of forest fires, that are well elevated, and that are built on solid rock.”
The top candidates?
The obvious choices are the larger towns of Dawson, Whitehorse and Yellowknife because they are accessible, and because western portions of northern Canada will experience less severe temperature rise during the coming century. Most importantly, however, precipitation in the Mackenzie and Yukon River basins will increase by 30 or 40% in the coming years, and winter will remain sufficiently cold to kill off the mountain pine beetles (MPBs) annually (for a few decades, at least).
Eager to get started but not quite ready to go straight to Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories?
Slade advises would-be migrants to acclimatize themselves to the culture and weather of the Great White North via Vancouver and Edmonton before settling for good in the place that the Canadian government has dubbed its “coldest, sunniest city,” where winter days regularly dip below -40º F with windchill.
Stay put and take root
Madeline Ostrander thinks you’ll have a better chance to survive climate chaos if you stay home.
She writes in YES! Magazine that “sense of place, community, and rootedness aren’t just poetic ideas. They are survival mechanisms.”
Being rooted in a place can make it easier to survive the kinds of weather disasters that will be more common nearly everywhere due to climate change. “Place attachment is one of several factors that can help a community recover from, and individuals cope with, the kinds of social and environmental crises that are becoming ever more common — like climate change-related disasters, large-scale job layoffs, or political turmoil.”
In two separate studies, for instance, individuals who reported higher levels of concern about place were more likely to take steps to prepare for wildfires (in the United States) or floods (in a monsoon-prone region of India). The damage caused by a disaster can be more stressful for individuals who were attached to that place, but those feelings can also motivate people to put the broken place back together, according to a recent book by social workers Michael John Zakour and David F. Gillespie.
While Ostrander concedes that not everybody will be able to stay put — “disasters like drought and flooding that devastate some places and force people to move” — places with strong community will fare better than those with transients in a future of climate chaos.
“As we face this kind of world,” Ostrander writes, “some communities might endure precisely because people have dug in, rooted themselves, and developed the kinds of generosity, adaptiveness, and foresight that come from knowing where they are.”
– Erik Curren, Transition Voice
(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)
More than a dozen patients are in intensive care, some on ventilators, because of the H1N1 flu virus, according to the chief medical officer for a B.C. Lower Mainland health authority.
Dr. Paul Van Buynder, with Fraser Health, said Friday that 15 patients, many of them otherwise healthy, young people, were recently admitted to hospitals in the region.
“It is a lot for us at this particular time, especially because there is not a lot of circulating disease in the community at this point, and so we’re worried that this has happened to so many people so quickly,” he said.
He says the ages of the patients turning up with H1N1 flu span the spectrum, and include those in their 30s. He also said at least one of the patients is pregnant, and also that one person may have died from this flu strain.
“I have one person who hasn’t been confirmed, but I’m pretty sure did pass away from this,” Van Buynder told CBC News.
Van Buynder said medical officials are seeing small pockets of H1N1 breaking out across the region, in a pattern mirroring the flu’s spread in Alberta, Ontario and Texas.
Alberta’s Health Minister Fred Horne says there have been 965 lab-confirmed cases, another 251 people have been hospitalized due to influenza and five people have died so far this flu season.
The H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009, which the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, prompted mass immunizations across Canada.
Van Buynder said anyone visiting a hospital or health facility in B.C. will either need to wear a mask, or be vaccinated against the flu — and he said that previous vaccinations against H1N1 may not help anymore due to mutations in the virus.
“Certainly we don’t think everybody should be reassured by previously being vaccinated, and we’d like them to make sure that they go out and get it again,” he said.
Fraser Health serves more than 1.6 million people from Burnaby to Hope, to Boston Bar.
Looking Back at 2013: Photos of Climate Chaos, Natural Disasters, Heartache and Hope
Today, we wrap up 2013 with a slideshow of photographs taken this past year by DeSmog contributor Julie Dermansky. We’re grateful to have Julie on our team, and as you can see from her photographs, she witnessed some awe-inspiring and awful scenes in 2013.
A self-described Accidental Chronicler of Climate Change, Julie lives in New Orleans and has traveled the globe reporting on some of the most important stories of our times through her photojournalism and writing — Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan, Superstorm Sandy, earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the BP Gulf oil disaster, war-torn Iraq, genocide in Rwanda and lots more.
She joined DeSmogBlog in August, and quickly became an invaluable member of our team with her in-depth multimedia coverage of the Louisiana sinkhole, the battle over the southern half of Keystone XL, the fracking bonanza in Texas, the ongoing fallout of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and more.
Sit back and take a journey through Julie’s lens as we remember some of the biggest disasters and climate stories of 2013.
Conroe Regional Medical Center where the patients are being treated
A mystery illness in Montgomery County, Texas has killed four of the eight people suffering from it, and two more are critically ill.
A report from KHOU.com quotes Dr Mark Escott, Mongomery County Medical Director as saying:
“We don’t currently have a diagnosis for what has caused those illnesses. Other health departments will need to be looking for cases like this to make sure that we haven’t missed cases.”
“Eight serious cases at a local hospital that developed with influenza-like symptoms that developed serious complications, including death for four of those eight patients. The big worry about a situation like this is, ‘Could this be a novel flu of some sort?’” Escott explained.
“It could certainly be lots of other viruses or other diseases but that is the big concern.”
All of the patients tested negative for known strains of influenza, even though they all presented with influenza-like illness. (ILI). There has been around 2000 cases of influenza-like illness in Montgomery County so far this year, but these cases are different in both severity and outcome.
All the patients have been between the ages of 41 and 68.
Dathany Reed was the youngest to die. The 41 year old took a sick day from work and went to the doctors. He came home with several prescriptions and told his mother he was feeling very unwell. The next day the father of three was on life support. He turned 41 on November 30th and died on December 5th with doctors still not knowing what killed him.
Other hospitals in the area are looking at their case loads to see if they have any patients who are undiagnosed, and that may be suffering from the mystery ailment.
Health officials are urging people to maintain hand hygiene and to cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze, preferably with a disposable tissue or the crook of their arm. If people do cough or sneeze into their hands they are advised to wash them immediately.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
The rapid rise in oil output since 2008 has the mainstream media claiming that the US will soon be energy independent. US Crude oil output has increased about 2.8 MMb/d (56%) since 2008 and about 2 MMb/d is from the shale plays in North Dakota ( Bakken/Three Forks) and Texas (Eagle Ford). My modeling suggests that a peak from these two plays may be reached by 2016, other shale plays (also known as light tight oil [LTO] plays) may be able to fill the gap left by declining Bakken and Eagle Ford output until 2020, beyond that point we will see a rapid decline.
|US Light Tight Oil to 2040|
There are two main views:
There will be little crude plus condensate (C+C) output from any plays except the Bakken/Three Forks in North Dakota and Montana and the Eagle Ford of Texas.
The other LTO plays will come to the rescue when the Bakken and Eagle Ford reach their peak and keep LTO near these peak levels to about 2020 with a slow decline in output out to 2040.
So for the Eagle Ford estimated TRR would be 4+1=5 Gb.
For the North Dakota Bakken undiscovered TRR is 5.8 Gb, 2.2 Gb of proven reserves, and 0.5 Gb of oil produced for a Total TRR of 8.5 Gb. See my previous post for more details.
For the North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks and Eagle Ford plays we use the following economic assumptions to find the Economically Recoverable Resource (ERR):
I will use the Eagle Ford play as my template because it has ramped up much more quickly than the Bakken, this is a very optimistic scenario and it is unlikely that there will be greater output from US LTO than the scenario I will present.
When we combine our North Dakota Bakken/Three Forks, Eagle Ford, and “other LTO” models we get the following chart:
This scenario is indeed optimistic, but not nearly as optimistic as the EIA’s scenario for LTO in the 2013 Annual Energy Outlook. For comparison I computed the ERR for 2013 to 2040 for my US LTO scenario, it was 17.6 Gb over that period, the EIA scenario has a total output of 24.5 Gb over the same period, 40% higher output than an already optimistic scenario. My guess is that reality will lie between the blue curve and the green curve with the most likely peak around 2018+/- 2 years at about 3.1+/- 0.2 MMb/d.
I am still working on this section, check back for details
OTTAWA – At least 13 Canadian government agencies have had subscriptions with U.S. private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. or Stratfor, sometimes dubbed a shadow CIA, newly released WikiLeaks emails indicate.
Stratfor came under fire recently after a leaked company document prepared for an oil company outlined ways to counter activist groups, such as Greenpeace, who oppose Canada’s oil-sands development.
The same cache of leaked emails indicates Canadian federal agencies have purchased at least half a million dollars in Stratfor services.
Stratfor’s Presentation On Countering Anti-Oilsands Activists
Reportedly prepared for Suncor, 2010.
(Story continues below)
Emails from January 2009 and February 2011 show invoices of $13,125 and $13,725 for one-year Stratfor subscriptions for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which were not publicly disclosed by the department.
Under proactive disclosure policy, Canadian government contracts worth more than $10,000 must be posted on the web.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jean-Bruno Villeneuve says there was a clerical error in not reporting the contracts.
Villeneuve added the subscriptions were “used widely within the department to help inform policy development and analysis.”
Stratfor declined to answer questions about the recent leaks, referring The Canadian Press to a posted statement about its policy not to comment on any of the WikiLeaks documents.
“Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic,” the statement reads.
“We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”
A Canadian intelligence expert says some federal departments use private firms such as Stratfor to augment their supply of intelligence.
“I think it’s not uncommon,” Wesley Wark said in an interview.
“Particularly for people in the intelligence analysis world of the Canadian government … to have contracts from time to time with private-sector firms for delivery of certain kinds of analytical problems, which is basically what Stratfor does.”
Wark says such services can be expensive and beyond the budgets of government agencies.
In another leaked email, dated March 3, 2011, a senior executive in the firm applauds a Stratfor employee for cementing a long-term contract with National Defence.
The deal was on behalf of the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, worth $240,600 over three years.
The leaks suggest National Defence has had the highest-value agreements with Stratfor.
“We locked them in for a three-year commitment,” says the email, with several replies of congratulation for the coup.
According to the same email chain, National Defence paid Stratfor $78,225 in 2011, $80,175 in 2012 and $82,200 for this year. The contract was publicly disclosed by the department.
The deal gave the college “Authenticated Access to STRATFOR Enterprise Premium Portal,” which includes “Up to 10 individual user accounts” with access to sophisticated analysis and geopolitical forecasts.
National Defence’s publicly posted contract reports also show an agreement with Stratfor worth $182,377 from 2008 to 2011.
In 2006, a Stratfor analyst described in an email another deal with comparable value.
“We just inked a deal beginning yesterday similar to the Air Force,” the analyst wrote to a colleague, “except it covers the Canadian Forces for $50k (the) first year and $60k for (the) subsequent year.”
Industry Canada used an “enterprise premium portal” subscription similar to that of National Defence, an April 2005 email indicates, although a dollar figure was not reported. Another email indicated a renewal of a subscription in 2010.
Additional emails from the WikiLeaks database show the Public Safety Department, whose umbrella includes the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, had a deal with Stratfor in 2010 and 2011, although the valuation was not given.
WikiLeaks obtained the emails from a high-profile hacking of over five million Stratfor emails by alleged Internet activist and Anonymous member, Jeremy Hammond. Hammond pleaded guilty in a U.S. court and received a 10-year sentence last month.
“I don’t think they (Stratfor) have formal access to classified material,” said Wark.
“But the people who work at Stratfor are for the most part former members of the American intelligence community and have some connections. … But they’re primarily, I think, working with open-source material.”
Here is the Stratfor Canadian government subscription list, according to WikiLeaks cables: Transport Canada; Industry Canada; Export Development Canada (Crown corp.); Citizenship and Immigration; Canadian International Development Agency (now part of Foreign Affairs); Natural Resources; Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; Treasury Board; Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; RCMP; Public Safety; National Defence; Foreign Affairs.
A strategic analysis carried out in 2010 for the oilsands identifies a “worst-case scenario” for the industry that appears to have come to pass.
In a PowerPoint presentation evidently put together for oilsands giant Suncor, Texas-based intelligence consultancy Stratfor warns of a scenario in which the anti-oilsands movement “becomes the most significant environmental campaign of the decade as activists on both sides of the border come to view the industry as arrogant.”
That scenario is “exactly what has happened,” Mark Floegel, a senior investigator for Greenpeace, told Inside Climate News.
The North American environmental movement has coalesced around opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oilsands product from Alberta to an oil terminal in Cushing, Okla. With the Obama administration repeatedly delaying a final decision on allowing the pipeline, the movement to stop it has grown into the most high-profile environmental battle of recent years.
The Stratfor presentation was released by Wikileaks, and was part of a massive trove of millions of documents it has obtained from the intelligence consultancy over the past two years.
Stratfor presents several options for oilsands companies to address opposition to their business. Among those options is simply doing nothing. Not responding could work because “activists are not stopping oilsands’ growth and they have no power in Alberta or Ottawa,” the PowerPoint presentation stated.
In the best case, the presentation said, environmental activists would move on to protesting the new hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, methods being used to extract oil. But while opposition to fracking has indeed materialized, the debate over the oilsands continues to dominate environmentalists’ agenda.
As New Republic puts it, the documents provide “rich evidence of how the industry thinks about its foes.”
Aside from doing nothing, the presentation also set out a number of other options for oilsands companies, including “rapid negotiations,” “intentionally delayed negotiations,” and “flying in formation” — meaning oilsands companies could come up with their own environmental initiatives, rather than bending to the demands of environmental groups.
The Stratfor presentation breaks down oilsands opponents into four groups: “radicals,” “idealists,” “realists” and “opportunists.” Each of the major environmental groups campaigning against Keystone are located within one of those four categories (see slideshow above).
Suncor denies ever seeing this report, Inside Climate News reports, however the presentation mentions Suncor by name repeatedly.
Stratfor, which Barron’s magazine once described as a “shadow CIA,” is not universally embraced as a source of corporate intelligence. The company has been criticized for preparing intel reports that are little more than analysis of publicly available information.
“The group’s reputation among foreign policy writers, analysts, and practitioners is poor; they are considered a punchline more often than a source of valuable information or insight,” Max Fisher wrote in The Atlantic.