Archive | Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image

Europe out to lunch [Oil Sands] – by Claudia Cattaneo – (National Post – October 8, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

When French peasants were starving because of widespread bread shortages during the reign of Louis XVI, his extravagant wife, Marie-Antoinette, is said to have proposed: “Let them eat cake.”

The same arrogance was on display in Europe this week, when amid desperate protests, climbing unemployment and draconian austerity measures to fix crippling state debt, the European Union pushed forward two policies marshalled by the environmental elites: a costly plan forcing airlines flying into Europe to buy credits and reduce emissions, and a plan to discriminate against oil from Canada’s oil sands as part of a new fuels quality directive it can hardly afford.

While the aviation scheme affects a multitude of countries, discrimination against the oil sands is a shot at Canada alone. It comes only a year after another patronizing EU move, a ban on seal products, that was vigorously protested by Canadians. Continue Reading →

Kitimat, B.C.: Ground zero in the race to fuel Asia – by David Ebner and Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – October 8, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

KITIMAT, B.C., CALGARY – Two kilometres beyond an old logging road, workers are building the foundation of the future of Canada’s ailing natural gas business.

Since the summer, crews have blasted the hard rock at Bish Cove on the Douglas Channel, the deepest and widest fjord on the rugged north coast of British Columbia. More than 40,000 cubic metres have already been excavated to reform the land, in preparation for a $5-billion-plus project that would for the first time ship Canadian natural gas to buyers in Asia.

The earth-churning work at Bish Cove is a demarcation point in the history of the Canadian energy business. For the country’s natural gas producers, a door to Asia is a desperately needed lifeline. The industry has been battered by the emergence of abundant shale gas in the United States. Prices and profits have collapsed, and shipments to the U.S., Canada’s only export customer, have been halved. Without an export route to Asia, there is a risk that the major discoveries of shale gas in British Columbia, as well as reserves in Alberta, will be left in the ground.

There is urgency: Serious competition looms on the other side of the world in Australia, where there are some $200-billion of plans to build numerous plants that would triple exports to the same customers Canada is courting. But Canada has an advantage. Continue Reading →

$US 44 Million for the Boreal Forest & Mining “Reform.” Why Is Pew Spending So Much Money in Canada? – by Vivian Krause ( – September 27, 2011)

Vivian Krause is a Vancouver-based independent researcher and writer who investigates the environmental movement’s lobbying efforts in Canada and their sources of funding.

In previous blog postings, Vivian Krause stated that, “According to my preliminary calculations, since 2000 USA foundations have poured at least $300 million into the environmental movement in Canada.” Currently, she estimates that about $50 million a year is being funnelled into Canadian environmental organizations from U.S. sources.

The Pew Charitable Trusts (“Pew”) is one of the largest charitable foundation’s in the United States. In its annual report for 2011, Pew reports that it has $4.9 billion in assets that originated from the founders of Sun Oil, an American oil company.

 Pew recognizes boreal forests and the need to protect them in Russia, South America, Indonesia and Africa but the place where Pew is investing more far more money than anywhere else, is Canada.

Pew considers that about 60 percent of the entire national territory of Canada is boreal forest. Of that, 12 percent is already protected by Canada. For Pew, however, that’s not enough.

Since Canada has the world’s largest temperate rainforest and the world’s largest boreal forest, global interest is natural.  But lets not forget, Canada’s forests are also home to some of the world’s largest deposits of energy and minerals.  This fact is not lost on Pew.  In fact, some of Pew’s grants for the Boreal Forest Initiative are titled, “British Columbia mining.”  Continue Reading →

Battlefield Nebraska: A pipeline plan stirs emotions – Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – October 1, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

STUART, NEB.— Next to a sun-stained red flag that marks the planned route of the Keystone XL pipeline, Leon Weichman kneels on his Nebraska hay field. Moisture spots his jeans. It has barely rained in 30 days in this arid part of the central U.S., yet the grasses are thick and green. The soil is black and damp.

This field is naturally irrigated by the subterranean reaches of a vast underground formation called the Ogallala Aquifer that underlies the heart of America. It is half the size of British Columbia and filled with freshwater.

Mr. Weichman says he has slept uneasily for three years, knowing that the red flag portends a time when up to 830,000 barrels of oil could course through his field each day. “If we couldn’t use this water, this area would just be vacated.” Mr. Weichman says. “We couldn’t raise livestock here. We couldn’t use crops here. It would just be done.”

Now the Ogallala has inspired a fierce battle over oil, turning Keystone XL into a symbolic dividing line for opponents and supporters of Canada’s oil sands. The red flags marking the route have come to delineate an increasingly bitter fight between those who tout the economic and strategic benefits of a giant resource of North American crude and those who see the oil sands as an unacceptable environmental threat. Continue Reading →

Let Canada’s oil flow – Conrad Black (National Post – October 1, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

There has been good, as well as disappointing, economic news for Canada in recent days.

On the positive side: All indications are that the impenetrable mysteries of the American political and regulatory process will finally overcome ecological hysteria and approve the transmission of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico through the yet-to-be-completed Keystone XL pipeline.

It is nonsense, of course, that this project has been so long delayed, a fact that is due to the pitched, hand-to-hand combat necessary to win the heart and mind of the U.S. President and administration over to its national interest from tired environmental pieties. Apart from being good news in itself, it is good to have Canada on the side of the adults on such an issue.

This has been a more complicated process than it should have been, as the usual suspects, led by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, signed the inevitable petition against the oil sands. One more time we see the inadvisability of clergymen, like opinionated actors and legitimate cultural figures, meddling in matters they know nothing of.

How a South African Anglican minister and a Tibetan national religious leader in exile imagine this is any concern of theirs, or that they have any standing to express an opinion about it, fortunately has finally escaped the comprehension of those who have the responsibility to decide the issue. Continue Reading →

Foreign interests attack oil sands – by Diane Francis (National Post – September 24, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper

I believe foreign countries are behind some of the noise and mischief in the United States to try to shut down Canada’s oil sands and block construction of the proposed pipeline to bring 700,000 more barrels day to Texas refineries.

The new global reality, since the UN Copenhagen failure to come to any workable agreement to reduce pollution or population worldwide, is that powerful, transnational nonstate players are roaming the world, in the environmental space, replacing smaller and local activists. They are run by faceless persons, they cross borders, they have planetary mandates to attack fossil fuel or any energy development and are armed with funds, media smarts and political influence. They prey on countries where there is an open and transparent system of environmental management even though they often are not transparent themselves in terms of their backers, financing sources and agenda.

They swarm around chosen causes and one of their biggest targets has been Canada’s oil sands. This has made no sense because emissions from the oil sands are a fraction of the emissions from coal and equivalent to California heavy crude oils or ethanol. None of these has been getting the same attention as the oil sands and this pipeline.

But here’s one example of the transnational environmentalism: Continue Reading →

Saudi oil’s Ethical Warfare – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – September 21, 2011)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper

CALGARY . Is Saudi Arabia losing its cool over Canada’s growing oil sands? It certainly seems that way, based on the Middle East kingdom’s bizarre overreaction to television commercials that promote Canada’s “ethical oil,” in contrast to oil coming from Saudi Arabia, a regime that oppresses women.

The commercials are sponsored by a tiny grassroots organization based in Toronto,, which encourages consumers to favour “ethical” oil from Canada over “conflict” oil that comes from undemocratic regimes, where most of the world’s oil reserves are located. ran the commercials on the Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada in late August. The Saudis responded by hiring lawyers to tell the Television Bureau of Canada, the advertising review and clearance service funded by Canada’s private broadcasters, to withdraw approval of the ads.

The group was so outraged by the Saudis’ “intimidation tactics” it started running the commercials again this week on the Sun News Network and was planning to run them on CTV, until the network backed out, said Alykhan Velshi, executive director of Continue Reading →

The next great pipeline debate – and U.S. funding – by Gary Mason (Globe and Mail – September 29, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

“In the past few years, the tenacious Vancouver-based and
independently financed writer [Vivian Krause] has parted
the curtains on the extent to which environmental groups
in Canada are funded by American organizations. (Her website, … Ms. Krause estimates there’s $50-
million in American funding pouring into the Canadian
Environmental movement every year.” (Gary Mason)

The politics of oil is a grimy business. Look at what’s going on in the United States right now and you can see just how dirty things can get. Debate around the Keystone XL pipeline has been rancorous and divisive. In the end, concern for jobs is likely to trump worries over the pipeline’s environmental impact.

The movement against Keystone has mostly played itself out in America. But the next great pipeline debate will unfold right here in Canada. The stage is already being set.

National Geographic recently devoted a cover spread to the pending tussle over the proposed $5.5-billion, 1,700-kilometre Enbridge pipeline. It would run from Edmonton to the coastal port town of Kitimat, B.C., where, in theory, tankers bound for energy-thirsty markets in Asia would fill up with Alberta crude.

“Pipeline through paradise,” was the headline on the National Geographic story. In it, Ian McAllister, co-founder of the Canadian wilderness protection organization Pacific Wild, said Enbridge will precipitate the biggest environmental battle the country has ever witnessed. “It’s going to be a bare-knuckle fight.” Continue Reading →

[Canada] We must be a ‘first mover’ on pipelines and terminals – by Gordon Gibson (Globe and Mail – September 28, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

“We have enormous resource extraction possibilities that
could pay for health care and pensions for decades.
Alas, standing in the way is one very large problem,
namely our sclerotic project approval process for the
necessary pipelines and ocean terminals.” (Gordon Gibson)

Recently an article in Report on Business fingered the Canadian propensity to study resource projects to death, while our competitors around the world get on with them. Result, the Australians, Americans and even the Gulf States capture markets that could have been ours, and we are left virtuously sucking our thumbs.

The article cited a Shell executive who spoke of prospects for the vast shale plays in northeastern British Columbia. We need an expanded customer base to properly develop that resource. Soon the Americans aren’t going to need our natural gas any more, as their own shale production ramps up. Our market increasingly will be in Asia.

It is not just sales, but dollars that are in play. A thousand cubic feet of gas goes for around $4 in North America against $14 in Asia. But to get that premium, we have to build export facilities – pipelines and terminals.

The same argument applies to oil, though in a different way. The Americans would take all the oil we can foreseeably produce – but on their terms. Their own terms means lower-than-world prices, and an ability to backload carbon pricing onto us rather than the U.S. consumer. Continue Reading →

Extremists’ oil protest puzzling – by Ezra Levant (Toronto Sun – September 27, 2011)

The Toronto Sun is the city’s daily tabloid newspaper.

On Monday, about 250 environmental extremists from across Canada and foreign countries travelled to Ottawa to protest oil. Plus a couple of dozen “journalists” from the CBC, there to cheer them on.

Greenpeace, the $350-million per year multinational corporation headquartered in Amsterdam, was one of the organizers. So was a group called U.K. Tarsands Network.

So, foreigners. Foreigners telling us what to do here in Canada — and boasting about trespassing in secure areas of Parliament Hill. Try that in Saudi Arabia. Or Iran. Try that in the United States, post-9/11.

These foreign meddlers pick on Canada precisely because we are the gentlest country in the world. And it would be too tough to try to protest in Iran or Saudi Arabia. The Saudi embassy is just a few blocks away from Parliament Hill, right on Sussex Dr. Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil producer in the world. They have the biggest oil reserves in the world. If this protest really was about oil, why didn’t they go there? Continue Reading →

Ottawa’s ‘ethical’ oil-sands campaign heats up – by Campbell Clark and Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – September 27, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Ottawa and Lincoln, Neb.— A global battle over the reputation of Alberta’s oil sands is coming to a head. Ottawa is deploying heavy diplomatic guns, on both sides of the Atlantic, to the debate over whether it will be treated as an ethical source for a world that needs oil, or a polluting pariah.

Stephen Harper’s chummy relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron has begun to yield a friendlier view toward the oil sands, a potential influence in the fight over European standards that could label Alberta oil dirty.

In North America, meanwhile, public protests and diplomatic lobbying are intensifying over the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands bitumen deeper into the United States.

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, travelled Monday to meet the governor of Nebraska, where pipeline opponents are geared up for public meetings on Tuesday. In Ottawa, hundreds of activists converged on Parliament Hill for protests organized by environmentalists, unions and native leaders – before dozens climbed a barrier fence and were removed by police for trespassing.

While tactics shift, the debate has crystallized: Continue Reading →

Thoughts on BP’s Oily Environmental Problem – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

I’ve been in the United States these last three weeks, and have been bombarded with news of British Petroleum’s uncontrolled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For readers who don’t already know, BP’s drill rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank six weeks ago. All of the company’s efforts so far have failed to stem the spread of crude oil from 1,500 metres under the sea onto the coast of Louisiana. Large parts of the fishery on which so many coastal residents depend are closed. A recent report said cleanup workers are falling ill, and workers at rigs near the site of the doomed BP rig, are being sent home because of the noxious smell.

The wall-to-wall news coverage of BP’s woes on American TV has made the tailings ponds of Alberta’s oil sands producers fade into the background. The anti-tar-sands activists have been quieter than usual, perhaps stunned into silence by the spill in the Gulf. The spill is estimated to have released at least 475,000 barrels and perhaps over 1 million barrels of crude oil.

Worse, hurricane season is underway, and expectations are that it could be a very active season. No one knows how far the crude oil could be spread by high-velocity winds. Continue Reading →

Can Coal-to-Hydrocarbons Replace Oil? – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

Like our readers, we at Canadain Mining Journal have watched the price of crude oil skyrocket and heard the voices of the “greens” calling for a more environmentally friendly energy source.

We don’t usually comment on the oil industry except the massive mining operations of the Alberta oil sands. The oil sands have been roundly criticized as one of the least environmentally friendly fuel sources. Their mining and processing could be made cleaner with a liberal injection of money, but the oil sands still produce conventional hydrocarbons in the end.

Ethanol has been suggested as a replacement for hydrocarbons. But the use of corn, rice and wheat in the manufacture of ethanol has played a major part in the rise of food staple prices, placing an unbearable burden on the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Coal, of course, is the second most popular energy source, behind hydrocarbons. It has a reputation of being dangerous to mine and dirty to burn. Continue Reading →