1.18.2007

how to profit by living next-door to an addict

This seems like the complete wrong direction.
The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment.

U.S.and Canadian oil executives and government officials met for a two-day oil summit in Houston in January 2006 and made plans for a "fivefold expansion" in oilsands production in a relatively "short time span," according to minutes of the meeting obtained by the CBC's French-language network, Radio-Canada.

The meeting was organized by Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Canada is already the top exporter of oil to the American market, exporting the equivalent of one million barrels a day — the exact amount that the oilsands industry in Alberta currently produces.

A fivefold increase would mean the exportation of five million barrels a day, which would supply a quarter of current American consumption and add up to almost half of all U.S. imports.

But the current extraction of oil from the tarsands results in the spewing of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere: it's already the biggest source of new greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

The news of the call for the massive boost in oil production comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to make the environment one of his top priorities, vowing that Canadians deserve more action on climate change. Polls show the environment is the number one concern of Canadians.

Yet, according to the minutes of the Houston meeting, to multiply its output by five and to do it quickly, Canada would have to "streamline" its environmental regulations for new energy projects.
Nice euphemism there: streamline.

Many Canadians won't criticize anything related to the oilsands, since they generate jobs almost as quickly as they do greenhouse gases. But just as we can't allow the logging and paper industries to determine which forests get cut down - or we'd have no trees left - we can't let the oil concerns to set our environmental priorities.

Maybe the fact that this call is coming from Bush's US will help turn Canadians against the idea.

Your thoughts?

12 comments:

West End Bound said...

l-girl,

Great minds must be thinking alike - I posted this same story this morning!

I'm guessing dickhead cheney's visit to Alberta late last year got this ball rolling. Never mind the damage that will be done to the environment in Canada as long as the US can feed it's oil hunger, eh?

Dion and Layton need to get some "cajones" and make a stand here . . .

impudent strumpet said...

What strikes me is that Canada's own oil needs aren't even mentioned. Do we produce enough oil to meet our own needs? I have no idea. Are we importing oil from elsewhere while sending our oil to the US? I have no idea.

West End Bound said...

Just guessing here, but I'd say the answer to both of impudent strumpet's questions is "Yes" . . .

Woti-woti said...

This ain't going to end. There are estimates of almost 900 billion barrels of the same shit sitting in Col., Montana, Utah. Estimate cost of extraction about 40-80 bucks a barrel. There are movements afoot in the US to try to mandate a permanent floor price for oil between $40-45 so that the poverty-stricken, market-driven oil companies can develop this stuff without risk. Since the fields in AB are already in production (with numerous development problems solved), it is in the US interest to deplete this until their own supply comes on stream. The current labour shortage in AB won't happen in the US cuz of the massive availability of cheap foreign labour. Anybody see a pattern here?
And Canada is technically self-sufficient in energy--the imports are usually the result of either power grid problems or cheaper methods of delivery (ie, a tanker of Venezuelan oil to the East Coast vs. pipeline/truck from the West).
Anyway, I think Green Tories will disappear faster than Big Oil.

The Key said...

A fivefold increase in the development of the Oilsands in Alberta's economy could only come in the long-term. The lack of qualified labour is what is killing development.

For example, the labour crunch is so dramatic in Calgary that I've seen many 7-11s offering $1,000 retention bonuses.

Frickin' 7-11!

Nevermind the imperical evidence I saw when I was working with the 4th largest in the world Oil and Gas service giant this summer, approving new users to our SAP system.

I figure there is at least >50% turnover in Canadian employees compared to their American counterparts in the company. It seemed the Americans I talked to set up accounts where just glad to have a regular job, let alone keep one.

And even then, a lot of the people I worked with here were stretched pretty thin. I can't imagine making them take on a fivefold workload, or doing the work of five people--some of them are already doing the work of three people as it is.

So, unless they can bring in massive ammounts of cheap, Chinese labour into the Oilsands, there's probably no way in hell this proposal could be accomplished in the short-term.

hemlock said...

A few people have suggested that I move to Alberta for a few years to benefit from the current boom.

(Un)fortunately, I'm an environmentalist and couldn't sell myself out for a short term benefit. I just can't do it.

I agree with West End Bound, Dion and Layton need to stand up and say, BACK OFF.

Scott M. said...

I'm an environmentalist and couldn't sell myself out for a short term benefit. I just can't [move to Alberta].

You would think that moving to Alberta is selling yourself out? Already many, many millions of tax dollars come out of that economy and support programs across the country. We're already benefiting from the oil sands.

Unless you're actually working for the oil companies, I don't see why you'd be opposed to moving out there. There is a labour shortage in other markets, and you are in no way supporting the oil sands by filling those positions. How would working for the City of Calgary, Telus, or any other major non-oil companies support the oil sands development?

L-girl said...

Woti, thanks for that, very interesting.

You would think that moving to Alberta is selling yourself out?

I'm not sure, but I thought she or he meant that working in oilsand production would be selling out for someone who cares about the environment. I can't disagree with that.

By the way, the massive availability of labour in the US is not "cheap foreign labour". It's cheap American labour, brought about by an economy without manufacturing jobs. People will go to the oilsands for the same reason kids go to Iraq - because it's that or Wal-Mart.

Gazetteer said...

Just one more example of the advancement of 'Deep Integration' for both nations.

And with that it appears that the soft Anschluss has officially begun.

L-girl said...

I was wondering when someone would mention Deep Integration.

Woti-woti said...

L-girl said:People will go to the oilsands for the same reason kids go to Iraq - because it's that or Wal-Mart.

I'll elaborate on my entirely speculative scenario. The oil sands project has been evolving since the mid-70's when it really was a pie-in-the-sky proposition due to huge cost uncertainties, including future price of oil, unproven technology and the remoteness of the site (also, the next ice-age was thought to looming). It developed gradually while Big Oil had to pay premium rates to attract labour, skilled and unskilled for both the project and then entire supporting infrastructure. Given the time involved, a 'normal' community took shape. Now, the price of oil and the relative political stability of the supply makes the project even more feasible, except that having to continue to pay people a premium to work there is a royal pain on profits.
Big Oil won't make that mistake again. When it's time to develop the shale in the Rockies, it will be portrayed as some kind of national emergency/priority. You know, like putting a man on the moon to bridge the missile gap. Instead of unfettered boom-town growth, you'll see managed living conditions in order to facilitate quick production. A key component of this will be crappy pay scales, simply because an abundance of unemployed labour (and a complicit government) will allow it. These won't be jobs that Bush says "Americans won't do"--they'll be jobs priced so low that only the most economically desperate will uproot to live and work there. It's unlikely that many American kids would relocate for a Walmart-type job. If somebody has already left his home country for greener pastures, this may be the only option.
But why I'm really so cynical about the continued North American reliance on Big Oil is the fact that the least discussed part of the equation--the current energy grid and it's incompatibility with alternate energy forms--is also the least likely to be reformed. The folks in charge could care less about greenhouse gases, it's all about the corporate and personal bottom line.

L-girl said...

The folks in charge could care less about greenhouse gases, it's all about the corporate and personal bottom line.

And they wouldn't be doing their jobs if they cared about anything else. That's why we can't leave it up to them.

Interesting scenario, eminently plausible.