Could Northern Gateway oil pipeline give us Saudi Albertia?

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Former CIBC economist Jeff Rubin always looks at the big picture.

When he says that a review panel’s endorsement Thursday (December 19) of Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline is an “important victory” for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he puts it into a broad perspective.

“For Stephen Harper to fulfill his dream of the country becoming an energy superpower, we’re going to need four or five pipelines like this,” Rubin told the Straight by phone from Toronto.

As Rubin notes in this year’s updated version of his 2012 book The End of Growth, Alberta’s daily oil production of about 1.9 million barrels is projected to double by 2020, reaching five million barrels in 2030.

Combined with other sources, Rubin writes, this projected 2030 production will push Canada’s daily production to about six million barrels, up there with Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Rubin indicated to the Straight that this increased production will require, at the very least: Northern Gateway, with its daily capacity of 525,000 barrels; Kinder Morgan’s planned twinning of its Alberta to B.C. pipeline (890,000 barrels); TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. (830,000 barrels); TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Eastern Canada (1.1 million); and Enbridge’s planned reversal of its Line 9 pipeline in Canada (240,000).

However, Rubin said he doesn’t expect all this pipeline capacity to be built amid public opposition.

“To use the parlance of my former business, I’d short that trade,” Rubin said. “The chances of that happening are worth betting against.”

In The End of Growth, Rubin also notes that demand in the U.S., which buys about two-thirds of Canada’s oil, is down.

Even China, the intended market for oil from Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s twinned pipeline, is not a sure bet.

“If China’s economy stops growing at its current clip,” Rubin writes, “maybe it won’t need to import oil from the tar sands.”

Comments (6) Add New Comment
Peter B.
We need to build pipelines for the sake of our children. I am well off and will most likely continue to be well off regardless of if we have more pipelines built. But this is not about me! It is about my child and his children. If pipelines are not built they will suffer. Canada will have fewer opportunities and less social programs. Oil extraction creates a lot of tax revenue which funds our social program. Also oil sands expansion creates lots of jobs. These jobs and opportunities will not happen without pipelines.
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Evolution is a Hoax
We are a Energy Super power not firing on all cylinders yet not even half. But we don't have to be a Super duper power. I don't think anyone is thinking that. Just that we can export some of that massive pool of Oil to market. And yes we should recycle the oil,plastic and conserve too, live close to where we work, drive less take transit etc. But its just normal to have some pipe lines to all the different and large markets.
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Forward thinker
Peter
These pipelines will do little to enrich your child or his off spring. The pipelines will enrich oil companies, largely Foriegn, pipeline companies and the Chinese. If you truely want a future for your children you would fight to maintain the environment we are blessed with. If you truely believe that exploiting our resources is the way to go, then processing them in Canada is of greater benifit that selling the in a raw state. Do not believe that our right wing governments are acting primarily in OUR interests. Much of the fund raising for there election occurs in the oil patch so they are beholden to them. That is why Harper has been trying to lock us into an agreement with China that would last long after he is gone. It would make it difficult and painful for us to reverse the interests of the oil industry to advantage Canadian tax payers.
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Trevor Marr
This 'Not in my Backyard' mentality is not what makes a strong, growing Country with the Capital and Opportunity to advance in Environmentalism, in standard of living, is success for our future and our future generation's prosperity.

If you don't think Canada is capable of doing what many other successful Countries are already doing, if you think Canada's workers are not capable, then perhaps you are not a True Canadian?

I know we can do this and I will not allow an agenda driven minority determine my future!

Build this industry safe, strong and soon! I believe in CANADA!!!
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frances
Selling tar oil to China is as stupid as selling steel to Japan in 1938
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Bruce
The Big Lie of the Canadian petro industry is that they're critical to Canada's economy.

They are not.

Only 1/300 jobs are related to the petro sector. Manufacturing alone is several times larger, and is under pressure due to our dollar being linked to oil. Further, while in (say) Norway gains huge revenue from it's petro sector, in Canada only Alberta gets royalties, and the rates are bargain-basement. Alberta, if you notice, is actually having problems balancing its budget now.

It may seem like a lot of people work for the tar sands, but that's because they troll every online forum and paper in Canada to submit posts and letters. When they post under their real names, and you google or linkedin them, 90% of the time they're directly employed in the tar sands.

Supporters also lie about the size of the petro sector by quoting numbers for the energy sector as a whole, or natural resources as a whole, often even including agriculture and hydro. The entire petro sector is about 5% of Canada's GDP, and the tar sands are only about 2%. Outside of Alberta, the tar sands only contribute about 0.5% of GDP.

To put it to scale, the housing sector could fart and GDP would drop more than if the tar sands was shut down completely tomorrow. The tar sands DO NOT MATTER economically to most Canadians. The benefits are and will be narrow.

They lie about the relative greenhouse-gas intensity of the tar sands by quoting numbers for the upgraded end-product, *after* it has been diluted by massive quantities of natural gas. Dilution does not make tar less carbon-dense. It just dilutes it.

They lie about how "essential" it is, or how necessary to our way of life. The fact is that oil consumption is level or *DOWN* in North america, since 2005. People are driving less since 2005 as well (look it up: "road miles driven by year"). Why do you think the pipelines all go to ports? We don't need the stuff.

The tar sands project is not "vital". It isn't "crucial". We don't need the "oil". It probably destroys more jobs than it creates through secondary impacts on Canada other industries and image. Most of the economic and tax benefits flow to Alberta, and even Alberta isn't getting a great deal. It doesn't "support" our social programs.

It's just a bad idea on every level, except for those directly employed and those ideologically committed to oil.
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