By Mark Scholz
A Few Questions for Canada’s NIMBY Crowd
Locals and globally-funded environmental groups who oppose the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project object to any infrastructure that might result in a proliferation of tankers that would disturb the beautiful Saelish Sea ecosystem. This position, while seemingly well-intentioned, is not rooted in fact; and it has presented one of the most compelling threats to Canadian federalism since the Quebec referendum of 1995.
Let’s look at a few facts. To date, there have been no major tanker incidents off of the coast of British Columbia, largely due to developments in double-hulled tanker technology and thoughtful marine planning and cooperation on the part of companies and municipal governments. About 250 large commercial vessels enter the Port of Vancouver every year, five of which are tankers destined for the Westridge Marine Terminal.1 The Trans Mountain expansion is projected to increase that tanker traffic to 34 tankers. That seems like a significant increase, except when you consider the fact that the increased total represents just 14 percent of all marine traffic in the Port of Vancouver.2
Canada is a world-class producer of oil and with new investments in energy infrastructure – namely pipelines – we can increase our potential to be a world-class supplier in a globally competitive market. Currently, less than one per cent of Canada’s oil is exported to markets outside North America, yet world demand for oil will continue to grow.3 Canadian oil production meets the highest standards among producing nations. We should aim to be the global choice in terms of oil and gas. Energy infrastructure is critical to reaching that goal.
So what about those who oppose pipelines in principle, on the grounds that their contents promote catastrophic climate change? Well, they should be encouraged by the fact that Canadian oil and gas are less GHG-intensive than ever.
When will enough be enough for you to divest yourselves of the notion that we need to “leave it in the ground”?
It’s commonly known (but no less remarkable) that the volume of GHGs released by every barrel of oilsands crude has been reduced by an average of 30 percent since 1990. But did you know that technologies such as molten carbonate fuel cells reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of in situ steam generation methods such as steam assisted gravity drainage? In the drilling industry, the time it takes to drill an extended-reach horizontal well has been reduced by up to 70 percent, resulting in significant GHG emissions cuts through dramatic reductions in the use of diesel fuel on site. In terms of the safety record of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, it has transported oil products with a 99.9 percent spill safety rate since 1956.
Canadian industry will keep making impressive strides toward achieving perfect emissions, safety and conservation outcomes.
So here are a few questions for Canada’s NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) crowd:
- When will enough be enough for you to divest yourselves of the notion that we need to “leave it in the ground”?
- Are your objections to Canada’s regulatory processes rooted in conservation and consultation issues, or are they just a stall tactic to prevent investment in Canada’s oil and gas industries?
- Do you believe that Canadians are really better-served by hobbling our opportunities to participate in the global energy transition by shutting down the production and transportation of our oil and gas resources?
These questions matter. They will determine our country’s energy future, our contribution as global thought leaders in innovation and excellence, and our ability to uphold a cohesive Canada.
Mark Scholz is president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. He can be reached at [email protected]
Sources: 1 Transport Canada 2 Kinder Morgan 3 CAPP