Editorial: Enbridge oil pipeline won’t happen

Tom Fletcher shares his view and prediction on pipeline

B.C. Views

 

After following the opening phase of the National Energy Board’s hearings on the Northern Gateway oil pipeline proposal, I have a prediction.

B.C. will never see this pipeline. And that’s probably the best outcome.

The first reason is the nearly unanimous opposition of informed Kitimat-area residents, led by Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and skilled local volunteers who described the marine environment of the Kitimat estuary.

There was speculation that Ross, who was just appointed to chair Premier Christy Clark’s new Aboriginal Business and Investment Council, might bend on the oil proposal. His testimony put that notion to rest.

The Haisla, Haida, Gitga’at and other members of the Coastal First Nations group put their marker down on managed logging and eco-tourism years before this pipeline debate heated up. California do-gooders may have coined the term “Great Bear Rainforest,” but make no mistake, these tribes run the place.

Moving inland, the Northern Gateway pipeline route is a tangle of dozens of asserted traditional territories, some in the century-old Treaty 8 zone and others with no legal settlement. Our courts will require at least another generation of millionaire lawyers to untangle the territorial claims involved, no matter what the B.C., Canadian or Chinese governments may wish to do with this oil.

The Haisla have embraced liquefied natural gas ships, plants and pipelines, which may be all the industrial development the region can handle. Condensate can continue to be shipped into Kitimat by tankers and sent by railcar to Alberta to dilute bitumen. Which brings me to the alternatives to Northern Gateway.

CP Rail just announced a major investment in its U.S. main line south of Saskatchewan, to transport crude oil from the Bakken Formation, an emerging source of shale oil and gas under Saskatchewan, Alberta and North Dakota.

CP shipments out of North Dakota went from 500 carloads in 2009 to more than 13,000 carloads in 2011. The new target is 70,000.

B.C.’s likeliest alternative for oilsands crude is the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which has been pumping Alberta oil and refined products to the West Coast at Burrard Inlet for nearly 60 years. Port Moody’s Ioco refinery is gone, but Chevron’s Burnaby plant remains, and some crude goes out by tanker or pipeline to refineries south of B.C.

The current owner of Trans Mountain, Kinder Morgan Canada, is naturally watching the Enbridge battle closely. A Kinder Morgan representative provided the following information about tanker traffic from their Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.

In 2011 there were 32 tankers loaded at Westridge, down from 69 in 2010. Demand varies widely (there were no tankers in 2000) and current traffic is similar to what went out of Burrard Inlet in the 1970s.

Contrary to popular belief, there is not yet a major surge to Asia. For every 10 ships that load at Westridge, on average eight sail to California, one to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, and only one to Asia.

Current Port Metro Vancouver rules allow Aframax-class tankers (80,000 to 119,000 dead weight tons) to pass under the Lions Gate and Second Narrows bridges, but they can’t take on a full load. That would require dredging in Second Narrows, which would increase general shipping safety as well as capacity.

Kinder Morgan has not yet formally applied to twin the Trans Mountain line. If it does expand its priceless right of way, the capacity would be greater than the Enbridge proposal.

One way or another, that oil will move.

The professional environmentalist gong show over Enbridge is still to come.

 

 

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

High speed internet coming to remote CRD areas

Ottawa to invest $34 million to build 3.5 million metres of subsea fibre optic cable in B.C.

Affordable housing organization seeks to build in Sooke

Habitat for Humanity hopes to build cluster of townhouses at 2008 Murray Road

Council re-tenders Murray Road staircase project

Project could be delayed months

Upgrades to Millstream overpass to begin Feb. 1

Project includes addition of left hand turn lane onto highway to Victoria

Langford loses bid to host Amazon HQ2

Mayor hopes to attract more tech jobs to city

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read