The recent visit of Catherine McKenna, federal minister of environment and climate change, has drawn attention to the Canadian pipeline system.
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), pipelines total 840,000 kilometres across Canada. If aligned into a single pipe, it would be long enough for a return trip to the moon, with plenty of pipe to spare.
This figure includes 117,000 km of large-diameter transmission lines, with most provinces having significant pipeline infrastructure, according to NRC.
Of this amount, the federal government regulates 73,000 km, which transport energy products worth about $99.7 million at an estimated cost of $7.3 billion.
In 2015, Canada was the fourth largest producer of oil and natural gas liquids in the world, accounting for 4.8 per cent of total global supply. Canada is also the fifth fifth largest producer of natural gas in the world, accounting for 4.6 per cent of global supply.
The subject of pipelines has caused considerable controversy in British Columbia, after the federal government has purchased the Trans-Mountain Pipeline following legal and political wranglings between the provincial government and Ottawa, between British Columbia and Alberta, and with various First Nations finding themselves on either side of the dispute. Supporters say the pipeline is crucial to the long-term economic future of Canada, while environmentalists say the pipeline poses a threat to the natural environment, while tying Canada to what is called a ‘sunset’ industry.