Conflict between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast is not in the long-range interests of either province and needs to be resolved.
In July, Ms. Clark laid down five conditions for considering support of the project, including a provision that B.C. must receive a "fair share" of the fiscal and economic benefits. Ms. Redford's response was immediate and negative and seemed to assume that B.C. was seeking a share of Alberta's oil royalties, even though this was not the case.
Since the Alberta Premier has been seeking to take the lead in developing a "national energy strategy," it's in her interests to take the initiative in negotiating a resolution to this dispute with British Columbia. Otherwise, the question rightly arises: "How can you lead the development of a national energy strategy -- which involves finding common ground on the energy front among 10 provincial governments, three territorial governments, the federal government and the private sector -- if you can't find common energy ground with your sister province of B.C.?"
In seeking to reconcile the interests of Alberta and B.C. on the energy front, there needs to be a renewed commitment on the part of both provinces to the spirit and the letter of the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) negotiated by Alberta's Ralph Klein and B.C.'s Gordon Campbell. Under this agreement, both provinces pledged to reduce and eliminate trade barriers between them rather than to increase them. Under Section 15(2), the two provinces agree to "promote enhanced inter-jurisdictional trade in energy," and Part IV details a formal dispute resolution procedure.
Since the original negotiation of TILMA in 2006, Saskatchewan has also become a party to this interprovincial free-trade agreement now called the New West Partnership. Since Premier Brad Wall is more experienced in government and energy matters than both Ms. Clark and Ms. Redford, would it not be worthwhile to invite him to play a mediating role?
Finally, in seeking to find common energy ground between Alberta and B.C., there might be merit in broadening the discussion to consider electricity generation. Electric utility experts have long argued that a greater integration of B.C.'s hydro generation with Alberta's thermal generation could significantly lower the electricity rates in both provinces and further strengthen export possibilities.
In addition, such a broadening of the energy discussion would require B.C. to take into account Alberta's concerns about the future development of another huge hydro dam proposed by B.C. Hydro for Site C on the Peace River. With respect to the Site C development, the positions of the provinces are somewhat the reverse of what they are with respect to the Gateway project. In the case of Site C, B.C. will benefit economically from the project and Alberta will suffer the negative downstream impact on the environment and aboriginal peoples.
Would B.C. be willing to grant Alberta a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits from Site C if Alberta would be willing to do likewise with respect to Gateway? Or if in B.C.'s estimation that the negative effects of Gateway on the environment and aboriginals are so serious as to justify not proceeding with the project, would B.C. accept a similar judgment from Alberta with respect to Site C?
Important considerations deserving of frank and open discussion, negotiation and mediation between two great provinces that stand to benefit much more from the reconciliation of their conflicting interests than they do from their perpetuation.
Huffington Post Canada, Thurs Oct 25 2012
The technical hearings on economic issues raised by the Northern Gateway pipeline recently concluded in Edmonton. In these quasi-judicial hearings, Enbridge and intervenors (labour organizations, First Nations, environmental NGOs and the provinces of BC and Alberta) presented expert testimony and cross examined the experts of other parties. The Northwest Institute summarized the 15 days of hearings. Here are some highlights.
Cross examination of Enbridge Experts
Labour: refine the dilbit in Canada and create jobs
The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) questioned the export of raw dilbit (diluted bitumen, the tar sands' crude oil) rather than refining it in Canada. Enbridge responded that markets aren't looking for refined oil. They are looking for feedstock for their own refineries. No one could make money doing it, according to Enbridge, so there would be no benefit to Canada. Ninety percent of the claimed benefit to Canada is the "price uplift" that Enbridge claims will raise the selling price for all Canadian oil producers.
In later questioning, the AFL asked an expert for the Government of Alberta about the $8 per barrel "discount" for tar sands crude. The Alberta expert explained that tar sands crude fetches its highest price in the limited number of refineries capable of refining it for optimal value. When those refiners reach capacity, the price for tar sands crude drops $8. The $8 discount would be avoided by the Northern Gateway during its first year. Any pipeline (Northern Gateway, Keystone, Trans Mountain) would have the same "up lift" but, after the first few years, more heavy crude than refining capacity will trigger the discount and things will be back to where they are. Still, the Alberta expert concurred with Enbridge that, in his government's view, building upgraders in Alberta would not be commercially viable.
BC: an underinsured pipeline
The Province of BC questioned Enbridge about its insurance coverage. Enbridge stated that it was looking at exposure of $60 million for the cleanup cost of a spill once every 250 years. BC noted that works out to $280 million for a 20,000 barrel spill. That's the size of the spill in Kalamazoo which has already cost more than $767 million. BC also questioned whether the proposed separate corporate structure for the pipeline was intended to limit the liability of the corporate giant. Enbridge denied this. It stated that it would not consider a commitment to guarantee 100% of the clean up.
eNGO Coalition: National benefit from a pipeline that is half foreign owned?
A coalition of environmental NGOs (Forest Ethics Advocacy, Living Oceans ad Raincoast Conservation Foundation) established that Enbridge has ten potential funding participants who may each acquire a 4.9% interest and suggested that foreign ownership of the pipeline would impact the purported national benefit. Enbridge responded that the corporate structure would be modified for Enbridge to retain a controlling interest.
Later, the Coastal First Nations noted that, given 47% foreign ownership of Canada's oil and gas industry, that same percentage of the asserted $17 billion of benefit to private interest presumably would leave the country.
Chris Peters: Externalized cost of greenhouse gas emissions
Chris Peters, a Prince George engineer, calculated that the "well to wheels" greenhouse gas emissions would be 37 million tons (2/3 of BC's total emissions in 2010) and suggested this social cost should be entered into the equation. Enbridge responded that Canada is not responsible for emissions it exports to other countries, underscoring Peters' point that the social costs of the emissions enabled by the proposed pipeline are not accounted for anywhere.
Haisla First Nation: An undersized study
The Haisla First Nation's traditional territory will have more impacts than other First Nations because it is affected by all three aspects of the proposal: the pipeline, the terminal and the super tankers. The Haisla established that Enbridge gave different financial forecasts to different audiences – higher to the public, which inflates the claimed public benefit of a "price lift," - and lower to investors.[xii] Enbridge responded that the different forecasts were insignificant to the project's viability. The Haisla also raised concerns that the condensate costs and risks were not adequately addressed. Enbridge responded that this was the responsibility of the shippers. The Haisla noted that Mark Anielski's "natural capital and ecological goods and services" study included no impacts beyond the right of way, no river or salmon impacts and less land than the pipeline would actually occupy.
Coastal First Nations: Enbridge admits that a spill is 93% likely
The CFN noted that neither the provincial nor federal governments have exclusive jurisdiction to decide whether the project will proceed given that the First Nations have never ceded their traditional territories. The CFN couldn't evaluate impacts to salmon because they hadn't been provided the necessary information. "Whose responsibility is that?" CFN council asked. Enbridge responded that they had tabled sufficient information for a determination by the JRP.
Enbridge agreed that there is a 93% chance of a tanker spill, terminal spill, or full bore pipeline rupture happening within 50 years. In a heated exchange, CFN pointed out that there was no accounting of the social costs of the conflict that the pipeline would cause if the project goes forward.
Economist Robyn Allen: risks from tanker traffic increases are exponential
Enbridge's questions to the Alberta Federation of Labour panelist economist Robyn Allen allowed her to point out that if the pipeline were to increase from its stated capacity (525,000 barrels per day) to its potential capacity (850,000 barrels per day), this would increase tanker traffic by over 50 percent as well as activity in the marine terminal. "Risk is not additive," she said. "It is exponential."
JRP panelist Kenneth Bateman asked Allen about the value of Enbridge giving a "parental guarantee" that it would backstop all costs of a major oil spill. When Allen stated Enbridge won't entertain that, Bateman implied that it could be required by the federal government.
The technical hearings will continue through December. Beginning October 9, the JRP will convene in Prince George to hear expert evidence regarding the construction and impacts of the pipeline. Beginning November 22, the JRP will travel to Prince Rupert to hear expert testimony on marine and First Nations issues. Community hearings in southern BC are scheduled to begin in January 2012. The final arguments on technical evidence will be in April, 2013. The 2012 Federal Budget and Bill C-38 require the JRP to submit its report by the end of 2013. The federal cabinet will make the final decision.
Earth Matters, Oct 05 2012
Byline: Carrie Saxifraze
EDMONTON - Enbridge insists estimates of environment damage from construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline have been overestimated, because sections of the line will be built in areas already disturbed by a new natural gas pipeline, the federal review panel heard Thursday.
Enbridge lawyer Bernard Roth also questioned the expertise of economist Matthius Ruth, whose report for the Haisla Nation estimates the cost of environmental damage at between $254 million and $775 million for construction along the 1,700 kilometre route from Bruderheim northeast of Edmonton to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast.
That estimate includes cutting trees on the kilometre-wide corridor, crossing rivers and habitat damage, the Joint Review Panel was told.
The proposed $6-billion pipeline will carry 525,000 barrels of Alberta bitumen a day to Kitimat.
Enbridge proposes to use already disturbed land for about 80 per cent of the route, including areas already logged, old roads and along part of the 463-kilometre Pacific Trail Pipeline route, now under construction from the Prince George area to Kitimat.
"Through the entire Haisla territory, the PT pipeline is in the same corridor as the Northern Gateway," said Roth. Any environment impacts there have already occurred and should not be attributed to Enbridge, he said.
"If a road and power line is already constructed and we use the same right of way," how does Enbridge's pipeline cause additional damage? asked Roth.
But Ruth said the environmental costs might be higher because of the "cumulative effects" of two pipelines running through fragile ecosystems.
"Any new project will put additional stress on the environment," he said.
The Haisla Nation is a partner in a proposed liquefied natural gas facility that will ship natural gas from northeast B.C. to China. But they oppose the Enbridge bitumen pipeline because of fears that spills of the sticky product would pollute the water along the coast.
Roth said it's unfair to attach to a pipeline project the additional cost of greenhouse gases emitted in producing the bitumen, shipping it to Asia and burning the resulting gasoline in cars — a total calculation of $206 million in the Matthius report.
"These are indirect costs," he said.
Earlier in the day, a witness for the provincial government told the panel that building the Northern Gateway is just one way to handle the increased bitumen production underway in the oilsands.
Other solutions include upgrading the bitumen to synthetic crude oil, expanding refining capacity in Alberta or slowing the pace of development, said Harold York, author of the Wood Mackenzie report done for the Alberta government.
Oil producers will need other ways, besides the Gateway pipeline, to handle the increased amount of bitumen, he said.
In response to questions from the Alberta Federation of Labour, York noted that to get the price increase producers want, Alberta bitumen must be sold into "coking" refineries that can first upgrade it.
If it is sold to conventional refineries, it could only be used to make lower value fuel oil. That could lower the selling price of the bitumen, he said.
Montreal Gazette, Thurs Sept 27 2012
Byline: Sheila Pratt, The Edmonton Journal
The benefits to the oil industry of Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline may be exaggerated and its costs to the economy and environment underestimated, hearings into the project have been told.
The $6-billion pipeline project has been touted as a way to link burgeoning production from Alberta's oil sands to growing markets in Asia, which would allow Canadian producers to improve profits by reaping higher prices for crude overseas.
But a lawyer for the Haisla First Nation, which claims much of the land through which the pipeline would travel, said on Tuesday that projections of nearly $1.5-billion a year in increased revenue by 2018 are inflated.
Hana Boye said the estimate Enbridge is presenting at the National Energy Board hearings was developed with figures from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers that suggest oil supply in Western Canada will grow by 6.5 per cent per year between 2011 and 2020.
That's different than what Enbridge is telling its investors, Ms. Boye said. The company's own estimate is 4.4 per cent growth – a difference of 500,000 barrels a day by 2020 that would lead to a corresponding drop in revenues earned by producers.
"Have you given a different supply forecast to your shareholders than that provided to the panel?" Ms. Boye asked Enbridge's Gateway manager, John Carruthers, on Tuesday.
Mr. Carruthers acknowledged that different figures have been used at different times. Estimates can vary depending on assumptions of what the mix of varying crudes would be, he said.
"There would be times when we would see differences."
But the variances aren't big enough to change the project's economics, Mr. Carruthers said.
"The minor changes over time don't change the project need."
Ms. Boye added that the project could discourage the upgrading of oil sands bitumen in Alberta and that its cost to the environment hasn't been fully evaluated.
She pressed Enbridge over the use of diluent – lightweight solvents mixed with bitumen or other heavy crudes to make them flow through a pipe. Although the mix varies, about one-third of what would flow through the Gateway line would be diluent. The Gateway project includes a second pipeline that would bring diluent from the B.C. coast to Alberta. Ms. Boye suggested the cost of that diluent has not been factored into calculations of producer benefit.
Ignoring the cost of diluent exaggerates the case for shipping raw bitumen outside Alberta for upgrading or refining, said Robyn Allan, an analyst for the Alberta Federation of Labour who is advising the Haisla.
"There is no economic analysis ... that's been supplied to the hearings [of the impact] to the Canadian economy when we import condensate instead of upgrading in Alberta," she said outside the hearing.
Ms. Boye also questioned environmental economist Mark Anielski about his dollar-value calculation of the project's environmental impact. She pointed out that his analysis included only the 50-metre pipeline right of way and ignored possible effects outside that corridor.
Mr. Anielski responded that those effects could exist, but there's no credible method of putting a monetary value on them. He also acknowledged his report didn't put a value on a wide array of ecological effects from forests that would be disturbed by the pipeline – everything from erosion control to genetic diversity to pollination.
The Canadian Press, Tuesday Sept 18 2012
Byline: Bob Weber
The benefits to the oil industry of Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline may be exaggerated and its costs to the economy and environment underestimated, hearings into the project heard Tuesday.
The $6-billion pipeline has been touted as a way to link burgeoning production from Alberta's oilsands to growing markets in Asia, which would allow Canadian producers to improve profits by reaping higher prices for crude overseas.
But a lawyer for the Haisla First Nation, which claims much of the land the pipeline would travel though, said projections of nearly $1.5 billion a year in increased revenue by 2018 are inflated.
Hana Boye said the estimate Enbridge (TSX:ENB) is presenting at the National Energy Board hearings was developed with figures from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers which suggest oil supply in Western Canada will grow by 6.5 per cent a year between 2011 and 2020.
The proposed route for Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline is from just north of Edmonton Alberta to Kitimat on the West Coast of B.C. EnbridgeThe proposed route for Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline is from just north of Edmonton Alberta to Kitimat on the West Coast of B.C. Enbridge
That's different than what Enbridge is telling its own investors and shareholders, said Boye. The company's own estimate is 4.4 per cent growth — a difference of 500,000 barrels a day by 2020 that leads to a corresponding drop in revenues earned by producers.
"Have you given a different supply forecast to your shareholders than that provided to the panel?" Boye asked Enbridge's Gateway manager John Carruthers on Tuesday.
Carruthers acknowledged that different figures have been used at different times. Estimates can vary depending on assumptions of what the mix of varying crudes would be, he said.
"There would be times when we would see differences."
But the variances aren't big enough to change the project's economics, Carruthers said.
"The minor changes over time don't change the project need."
Boye added that the project could discourage the upgrading of oilsands bitumen in Alberta and that its cost to the environment hasn't been fully evaluated.
She pressed Enbridge over the use of diluent — lightweight solvents mixed with bitumen or other heavy crudes to make them flow through a pipe. Although the mix varies, roughly one-third of what would flow through the Gateway line would be diluent. The Gateway project includes a second pipeline that would import diluent from the B.C. coast back to Alberta.
Boye suggested the cost of that diluent has not been factored into calculations of producer benefit.
Ignoring the cost of diluent exaggerates the case for shipping raw bitumen outside Alberta for upgrading or refining, said Robyn Allan, an analyst for the Alberta Federation of Labour, who is advising the Haisla.
"There is no economic analysis ... that's been supplied to the hearings (of the impact) to the Canadian economy when we import condensate instead of upgrading in Alberta," she said outside the hearing.
"Importing condensate instead of upgrading (bitumen) is hollowing out the sector."
Claims analysis ignored side effects
Boye also questioned environmental economist Mark Anielski about his dollar-value calculation of the project's environmental impact. She pointed out that his analysis only included the 50-metre pipeline right of way and ignored possible effects outside that corridor.
Anielski responded those effects could exist, but there's no credible method of putting a monetary value on them.
"This kind of information is not available," he said. "To speculate would be unprofessional of me."
Anielski also acknowledged his report didn't put a value on a wide array of ecological effects from forests that would be disturbed by the pipeline — everything from erosion control to genetic diversity to pollination.
Enbridge has promised to plant a tree for every one cut down for the pipeline right-of-way, he said. The company is also working with the Nature Conservancy to protect land that would offset areas disturbed by the project.
The hearings are expected to continue in Edmonton throughout the week.
The Canadian Press, Tuesday Sept 18 2012
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared this summer the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is "in the vital interest" of Canada, critics could be forgiven for suspecting the fix was in, that the public hearings reviewing the project were nothing more than a formality.
However, based on the hearings so far in Edmonton it would be unfair to dismiss the process as a rubber stamp. Conducted by a joint review panel from the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the sessions have been a thorough, at times painstakingly so, dissection of the $6-billion project that would pump 525,000 barrels a day of Alberta's bitumen to the West Coast port of Kitimat for shipment by tanker to Asia.
The Edmonton portion of the hearings is focused on the economic impact of the project and has so far sat for five days with 10 more days on the agenda beginning next Monday, allowing a list of critics and supporters of the project to cross-examine Enbridge officials in minute detail over company estimates that the pipeline would boost Canada's gross domestic product by $312 billion over 25 years.
The hearings not only present critics with an opportunity to grill Enbridge officials, they also give groups such as the Alberta Federation of Labour a platform to present their own arguments that by shipping raw bitumen offshore, the pipeline represents a loss of refining jobs in Alberta.
The hearings are giving us not just Enbridge's argument for the pipeline but the critics' counter-arguments. The joint review panel is hearing from every conceivable corner in this debate before submitting its final report at the end of 2013, not that any actual debate has broken out on the floor of the hearings. Because the joint review panel is a quasi-judicial body with the power to swear in witnesses, it strives to maintain a decorum more befitting a court.
What the panel and the public are therefore seeing is a cold, bloodless look at the pros and cons of the most contentious energy project in the country.
Emotions might run a little higher in October and November when the hearings move to Prince Rupert and Prince George to examine the much more hot-button issues of pipeline safety, spill response and the effect of a spill on the coastal environment.
If Enbridge officials are feeling frustration with the pressure being applied by pipeline critics, they really have no one to blame but themselves. Enbridge badly tarnished its own reputation by allowing more than three million litres of oil to spill into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, opening itself up to condemnation by the U.S. government that likened company officials to the bungling Keystone Kops of silent movie fame.
Given the emotions the 1,200-kilometre project is stirring on both sides of the debate (and both sides of the Alberta-B.C. border), we need to judge this project calmly and coolly. That's what the joint review panel is offering us: a dispassionate examination of whether the Northern Gateway pipeline is indeed in the "vital interest" of Canada.
The Edmonton Journal, Wednesday Sept 12 2012
Among them are the Government of BC, the Alberta Federation of Labour, Ecojustice (representing ForestEthics Advocacy, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation) and various First Nations communities.
The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline involves constructing two pipelines approximately 1,170 km long carrying up to 525,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen (dilbit) from Bruderheim, AB to Kitimat, BC. The other pipeline would carry 193,000 barrels of condensate per day east to Bruderheim.
Questions will center around issues such as the economic need for the Project, the potential impacts of the proposed Project on commercial interests and financial and tolling matters, according to a release.
The proceedings are being webcast live from 2 pm to 6 pm Mountain (MT), 1 pm-5 pm Pacific Standard (PST). Note: full transcripts are also available after the hearing at the official Joint Review Panel site hearings page.
17:58: Committee closes; will reconvene tomorrow morning at 09:30 MT.
17:57: Chahley: I can't believe how fast times goes when we're looking at these figures.
17:55: Five minutes remaining-- Chahley is asking detailed questions about figures used in the economic tables.
17:49: Now Chahley is fact-checking year-by-year the export numbers...
17:44: Riffling of pages as Chahley hones in on specific economic numbers on report.
17:38: Chahley confirms that those 17 additional modules are not listed. Mansell confirms.
17:37: Chahley asks where in the report Mansell lists these 17 modules. Mansell points to a brief note on page 37.
17:35: Mansell explains that his unique economic model is a framework that has input/output model at its center. It has 17 modules for oil sands, conventional oil and gas, electrical sources, demographic changes, population aging, migration. He has based his modelling on the Alberta economy, and applied nationally over time.
17:34: Chahley asks what else Mansell adjusted for, in addition to labour productivity. Mansell said loyalties are one factor. He flips through his reports for more factors.
17:34: Mansell says that labour productivity changes over time, otherwise there's an overestimate of employment impact.
17:33: Chahley is asking whether the modelling used is static, Mansell insists it's dynamic. Mansell said that "it's much more than simple application of static framework."
17:31: Now Mansell is talking about "varying impact year by year."
17:30: Chahley and Mansell do not seem to be on the same page on the economic modelling factors used to determine the economic impact of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
17:23: Chahley asks further questions on economic impacts of pipeline year by year.
17:15: Chahley now referring to specific models listed in reports by expert witnesses.
17:11: Chahley: this panel has to look at the best interests of Canadians, and need to look at short, mid and long term impact of pipeline-- that's why she says she's spending so much time focusing on that aspect.
17:10: Pipeline is a long term investment-- 30 years is the approximate timeline for looking at economic modeling. (one of the expert witnesses)
17:06: Chahley gets blunt- says when you spend $5.5 billion on a pipeline, that's a shock to the economy, is it good or bad? Questions directly Mansell's economic modelling which shows the pipeline would be a positive gain for the Canadian economy.
17:02: Chahley still grilling Mansell about oil prices and productivity.
16:53: JRP back in session. Chahley dives right back into specific methodologies used in reports by Mansell.
16:39: Break called.
16:17: Chahley keeps pressing on whether refining crude oil is out of the question. Mansell denies it's out of the question.
16:09: Detailed questions about condensate prices (increase/decrease).
16:06: Confirmed (not clear who by the webcast).
16:05: Chahley asks whether Enbridge knows what Asian countries will do with condensate oil once it arrives.
16:00 Carruthers: Going into details of types of oil that can be used to move it through the pipeline system.
15:57: Chahley: Some of it is dilbit, some of it is synbit, how much of each will go through pipes will be determined by how much can be transported by rail, correct?
15:55: Chahley honing in on what specific types of dilbit and synbit will flow through the pipelines.
15:53: Carruthers: confirms that pipelines carry dilbit and synbit (50/50 blend of bitumen and synthetic crude oil).
15:51: Chahley now looking up shipment figures.
15:49: Priddle: Reminds Chahley that systems built as crude oil pipelines are now carrying several grades of crude oil and refined oil products.
15:48: Chahley: The problem with this pipeline is shipping away unproccessed resources if they were processed in Canada it would keep jobs in Canada.
15:40: Earnest won't answer that question.
15:39: Chahley: Enbridge's interests are for corporate bottom line, not for public interest. Asks whether expert witnesses whether they can agree on that.
15:34: Earnest still not answering clearly. Fischer said Enbridge has committed "substantial" amount of money-- close to $130 million to do an "analysis" of economic benefits.
15:29: Earnest dodges Chahley's questions about the economic benefits of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
15:24: Chahley is going to question mostly about economic benefits of the pipeline.
15:19: Chahley asks whether Northern Gateway and the expert witnesses will accept that between 89 and 89 per cent of the benefits arrives is due to projected increase in oil prices?
15:17: Leanne Chahley from Alberta Federation of Labour begins presentation.
15:16: JRP back in session.
15:05: Alberta Federation of Labour requests five minute break.
15:04: Witnesses now available for questioning.
15:03: Carruthers: Northern Gateway should get approval, while addressing 'remaining concerns.'
14:59: Carruthers: Northern Gateway recognizes the importance of questions re: the Michigan oil spill.
14:55: Carruthers: "Create a framework that puts reconciliation over division, fact over rhetoric..."
14:55: Curruthers: Has taken note of concerns particularly in British Columbia. Starting today Enbridge will respond. It will through witness panel do their best through Joint Review Panel to demonstrate economic benefits as well as addressing concerns.
14:48: Curruthers confirms he is President of Enbridge Northern Gateway.
14:43: Going now into specifics of changes in reports authored by witnesses. None of the changes have a significant impact on their findings.
16:34: Further detailed questioning prices of crude oil.
14:54: Curruthers: Majority of those who have appeared before the panel have argued that projects should be refused.
14:53: Curruthers: compares Enbridge to Canadian National Railway.
14:52: Panel accepts witnesses as experts in these fields.
14:51: Moderator asks witnesses to be qualified as expert witnesses to the Board:
Mansell: expert on economics
Earnest: expert on petroleum refining and transportaion
Priddle: expert in enegry policy and regulations of pipelines on the National Energy Board
14:38: Now going into specific appendices on reports, going through each witness.
14:32: Continuing to confirm who wrote what report, and to confirm all evidence in reports as accurate.
14:30: Correction of minor errors on report.
14:25: Swearing in of expert witnesses, who wrote reports on Enbridge Northern Gateway: Dr.J. Ruitenbeek, Mr.Mark Anielski, Dr. Robert Mansell, John William Carruthers (president of Enbridge Northern Gateway), Paul William Fischer, Neil Earnest, Roland Priddle. Also present near the panel (not witnesses) Dr.Peter Eglington Mr.Murray Fraser, Drew Armstrong.
14:20: Panel moderator announces that members of the Joint Review Panel are not available for media interviews during breaks or after the hearing.
14:14: Reading of various intervenors and questioners.
14:00: Mountain Time (MT)- The hearing in Edmonton, AB begins.
Vancouver Observer, Tuesday September 4, 2012
Byline: Beth Hong (live blog)
NDP calls for a deeper look into fracking in Alberta
The Alberta NDP has renewed its call for a scientific review of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology. NDP environment critic Rachel Notley says an independent, science-based review is necessary because uncertainty about the risks associated with fracking are exaggerated in Alberta due to the number of abandoned well sites across the province.
"We just think it's irresponsible to do [fracking] without first having a better sense of what the consequences are," says Notley. She says that without a comprehensive review, which would ideally result in legislation specifically geared toward fracking, the provincial government does "not have the capacity to tell us if there's a problem or not, because they're not looking for it, first of all. Secondly, the nature of fracking has changed dramatically... we're engaging in a much more risky form of fracking."
Notley is particularly concerned with the possible effects horizontal fracking techniques could have on groundwater.
The NDP is not the only organization pressuring the Alberta government to initiate a study of fracking. The Council of Canadians is also campaigning for a review.
Notley says she is skeptical of the government's claims that fracking is safe and closely monitored, especially after documents obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour revealed in November 2011 that the government entered into discussions with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to create a joint communications campaign to convince the public fracking is safe. That collaboration never materialized.
The quasi-independent Energy Resources Conservation Board, which reports directly to cabinet, is charged with regulating fracking activities in Alberta. It is currently reviewing its fracking rules, though the government has not expressed any intention to open a fully independent review.
Notley says she doesn't believe the government understands the need for investigations apart from ERCB work.
"There's a broad range of ways in which the government can act to protect the public and balance the need for sustainable and healthy economic development," she says. "It's a 40-year-old government that's completely captured by the oil and gas industry, the end."
Fast Forward Weekly News, August 30, 2012
Byline: Suzy Thompson
Wants review of extraction process
More than five million cubic metres of fresh water were allocated for fracking in Alberta last year, the NDP said Tuesday as it renewed calls for the province to conduct an independent scientific review of the controversial energy extraction practice.
The Tory government said the amount is only a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount of water allocated in Alberta annually, but noted it's trying to reduce the use of freshwater for fracking and sees no need for a broader investigation.
In Lethbridge, NDP environment critic Rachel Notley said figures provided by the Environment Department to the Alberta Federation of Labour estimate 5.5 million cubic metres of non-saline water were provided for hydraulic fracturing between June 2011 and June 2012.
Fracking involves the underground injection of water with sand and chemicals under high pressure to allow natural gas and oil previously trapped in unproductive reservoirs to flow.
"There is a growing level of development in this area and there are still very, very significant questions and concerns that need to be answered," Notley said in an interview.
"We understand the economic interests behind extraction but at the same time, if we put our water supply at risk, at the end of the day there will be no net benefit,"
The NDP initially called for a review of fracking last year. Notley said the primary concern to be examined is the effect on both the quality and sustainability of the province's water supply.
Alberta Environment figures show a total of 10.2 million cubic metres were allocated for oil and natural gas drilling in the province last year. The province only began tracking how much was used for fracking earlier this year.
Fracking has been used in Alberta for years but the practice is expected to grow exponentially to access shale gas reserves and hard-to-get conventional oil.
Mark Cooper, spokesman for Environment Minister Diana McQueen, said the amount of water earmarked for fracking comes from more than 10 billion cubic metres of water allocated annually for all uses in the province.
But he said the government does plan to talk with Albertans about the province's water supply, reviewing issues such as its use in fracking.
"We need to look at ways in which we can reduce the amount and perhaps look at ways where industry can use non-potable water," said Cooper.
However, he said the government does not see the need for a comprehensive review of hydraulic fracturing. "We have a very, very strong safety record. I don't know of a fracking incident that resulted in any contamination to groundwater," he added.
Environment is taking part in the Energy Resources Conservation Board's current review of regulations around fracking, he noted. ERCB spokesman Bob Curran said Tuesday the review is taking place in anticipation of greatly increased use of the procedure in the province.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers issued voluntary guidelines around fracking for its members in January that encourage producers to use additives with the least environmental risks, protect groundwater, and disclose fracking fluid additives.
"Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technology that is tightly regulated by government," David Pryce, CAPP vice-president of operations, said in a statement. "However, we can always do better."
The Calgary Herald, Wedn August 22 2012
Byline: Jerry Wood
OTTAWA – Political, business and union leaders reacted with caution and skepticism Friday to a B.C. newspaper tycoon’s proposal to build a $13-billion refinery near Kitimat to process bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands.
Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., which is proposing the 550,000-barrel-a-day pipeline to ship diluted bitumen to Kitimat for export to Asian refineries, refused to comment on David Black’s proposal to have some or all of that product processed in Canada.
Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Ottawa welcomes any project that boosts Canadian exports and jobs, but said he wouldn’t pass judgment on the idea.
“The reason refineries haven’t been built in Canada since the 1980s is because there hasn’t been an economic case for them, and the private sector just hasn’t seen the advantage,” Oliver said.
He said he assumes Black is serious in his proposal to have a refinery approved by regulators and operational by 2020.
The proposal was pitched Friday by Black as a way to make Enbridge Inc.’s controversial Northern Gateway pipeline proposal more palatable with the public, which has deep concerns about the environmental risks coupled with the lack of financial benefits for B.C.
Black told a news conference that the refinery’s finished products, such as diesel, gasoline and kerosene, would evaporate in a coastal or offshore spill. Diluted bitumen crude, however, would sink and be far tougher to clean up.
But the federal NDP and union leaders, who have long opposed oilsands pipelines, partly because they believe bitumen should be upgraded and processed in Canada, were skeptical.
“I don’t think it changes anything in terms of public opinion in B.C. against the Northern Gateway project,” said Peter Julian, a B.C. MP and federal NDP natural resources critic.
“The pipeline still threatens thousands of jobs in the fisheries and in tourism.”
Julian also questioned Black’s business case, noting that Enbridge’s Chinese partners are funding the $6-billion project in order to get raw bitumen for their own refineries.
Peter Boag, president of the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute, called the proposal “interesting” but speculated that the $13-billion price tag could be low.
“Clearly there are some significant economic and regulatory hurdles that would have to be overcome before we would see that proposal come to fruition.”
Michael Dunn, oil and gas analyst with FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in Calgary, also expressed skepticism.
“If they don’t want a pipeline to Kitimat, I’d be surprised if they’d want a refinery,” he said.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said his organization has always favoured keeping refining jobs in Canada, “but we are not convinced this is a credible proposal.”
Like Julian, McGowan questions why Black’s refinery could assume it has access to any of the pipeline’s production.
“How does he think he’s going to convince shippers to sell oil to him when the reality is that Chinese companies are buying up the oilsands in order to feed their own refineries? The whole point of the pipeline is to connect Chinese-controlled oilsands projects in Alberta with refineries in China. How does Black think he’s going to stop the Chinese from locking up all the oil shipped down the pipeline for themselves?”
Dave Coles, national president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union that represents 35,000 workers in the oil and gas, refining, petrochemical and pipeline sectors, said it was “refreshing” to hear a business leader talk about keeping processing jobs in Canada.
“This type of discussion is what needs to take place about upgrading and refining in Canada, so hats off for anybody who wants to start that debate.”
Greg Stringham, vice-president with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the West Coast is an important export point for Alberta crude, so any projects that could lead to increased access should be carefully considered.
Asked if the proposal might change the debate in B.C. around getting a fair share of economic benefits from the Gateway pipeline, Stringham said it’s still too early to tell.
Jennifer Grant, oilsands director for the environmental research group Pembina Institute, said she was skeptical a new refinery would substantially reduce the environmental risks of the pipeline project.
“This merits more exploration but it does nothing to address pipeline risk, risk to salmon habitat, First Nations’ concerns and so on. Those will all continue to be in the spotlight.”
Edmonton Journal Fri Aug 17 2012
Byline: Peter O'Neil
With files from Dan Healing, Calgary Herald, and Keith Gerein, Edmonton Journal