Do the refining closer to the source

Feedback from Graham Gerry says B.C. and Alberta could use the revenue from refining and lessen the chance of spills


Alberta Premier Alison Redford and B.C. Premier Christy Clark have reached an agreement on moving oil through the two provinces.

Clark’s previous sticking point about wanting a share of Alberta’s oil royalties was apparently a non-starter. Alberta is giving their oil away for only $2 – $8 per barrel. This is less than nothing when you consider that crude oil currently sells for over $80 per barrel and before 2004, when the oil companies were still hugely profitable, oil sold for under $40.

In a hundred years, all Alberta’s oil will be gone and they’ll just have massive amounts of toxic waste to clean up with their remaining royalty money.

Enbridge and Kinder Morgan are always advertising that they are taking all possible steps to minimize the risks of the pipelines. As it stands though, their plans for minimizing spill risk is to fill each outgoing pipeline and oil tanker 30 per cent full of solvent and make it carry about 20 per cent raw tar sand waste – this will double the amount of traffic that would be needed to carry refined oil and double the number of spills.

On top of that, the incoming tankers will be returning the 30 per cent solvent to be piped and shipped in future loads, creating the possibility of a massive toxic tanker spill (and pipeline spill) in both directions instead of just one.

Overall, this increases the spill risk by about 4X instead of piping and shipping refined oil. And yet all the marketing slicks say repeatedly that they are doing ‘Everything Possible’ to be safe.

Let’s be clear, Enbridge and Kinder Morgan are in the pipeline business and will double their own profits if they unnecessarily double the amount of pipelines and quadruple the spill risk at the same time.

CNOOC and Sinopec, the Chinese state owned oil companies that will be transporting their oil through the pipelines, are only really concerned about making more money for China. If they quadruple the spill risk but add a few million extra dollars to China’s GDP, they will be happy.

The tar sands will then be refined in China probably using coal-fired energy, making the final products by far the filthiest green house gas source on the planet.

It would be much better for the planet if the tar sands were instead even partially refined near their source in Alberta, or near Fort St. John before crossing hundreds of rivers in B.C.

This could be done

using clean energy from Site C and would cut the spill risk by about 75 per cent.

With the sawmill closures in Quesnel and Houston, there will be more than enough skilled labor to run an efficient refinery.

Graham Gerry

Quesnl, B.C.