Striking a Balance
Let’s get some facts out of the way before getting too deeply into this discussion. Science is science no matter what any actor, producer, or politician tries to tell you. The absolute bottom line is man is tough on our planet! The industrial revolution understandably has changed the makeup of our air, water, and soil. NASA points out that CO2 in the atmosphere is at an all-time high of 400 ppm. Prior to 1950, the atmospheric CO2 ranged from 100 ppm to 300 ppm. Glacial ice IS melting, but in the last 650,000 years, there have been seven cycles of advance and retreat of glacial ice. We should also all understand CH4 (methane) is roughly 23 times more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2. Nitrous oxide is another GHG that is rarely mentioned but does considerable damage. The planet IS warming, and it is a direct result of man.
According to the U.S. EPA, if we shipped 830,000 bpd from the oil sands to gulf coast refineries via the keystone pipeline, it would add, in total, 18.7 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. To add some perspective to that number, the United States puts 6.5 BILLION tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each and every year. Therefore, if the Keystone had been approved, it would have increased the amount of CO2 from the United States by less than THREE TENTHS of one percent or 0.286456% to be precise. Do we all REALLY believe the pipeline was vetoed due to environmental concerns? No! It was done to keep the focus on the oil sands and keep eyes off of many countries and industries inflicting far greater harm to the environment.
There are other sources of greenhouse gases besides the oil sands of Alberta, and many of these are much larger. If we loo globally, there are more than 1.6 billion ruminants (ie cattle, bison, buffalo, deer, and other animals) that basically ferment their food in one of multiple stomachs. These animals expel one way or another and add approximately two billion tons of CO2e per year in the form of methane. The clearing, land prep, and fertilizing of the lands required adds another 2.8 billion tons per year of CO2e. China’s coal fired power plants alone add more than 175 mt of CO2 to the environment every year, and that number continues to increase.
Perhaps, the great Albert Einstein had it right when he said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Much as people like James Cameron and Leonardo Dicaprio will never give up their carbon intensive lifestyle, I am reluctant to give up BBQ’ing my favorite cut of beef. So, unless we all plan to go back to living off the land, trade in our cars for horses, stop flying in airplanes, and give up eating meat, we had better figure a way to do this TOGETHER! The best teams, and the teams that win the most, are the ones that have no care for WHO scores the winning goal. They only care they all come out winners. THAT is what we need from our politicians, and I do not see it coming from either the NDP or our “resource-full” PM. I see only political posturing and pandering to all the special interest groups that helped get them elected.
I will freely admit to being a conservative. Actually, I’m a fiscal conservative who leans towards liberalism when it comes to the welfare of ALL people, but blaming the state of the Alberta economy solely on the reigning or previous government is ludicrous. Our economy is currently driven by a global commodity in which we do not have the best or even second best product on the market. Due to oversupply, it is getting to be a very tough sell. With that being said, uncertainty and mixed messages about our royalty structure CAN be blamed on an inexperienced and dangerous government. A government that likely had no inkling it would EVER actually be given the keys to the province. A government that is spending more time importing staffers in their own form of patronage rewards than dealing with that issue.
Importing far left leaning “advisers” like Brian Topp and Graham Mitchell is NOT what Albertans signed on for unless the average NDP voter is even less informed than I originally thought. The NDP, based on previous behavior and comments, DO want to kill the oil business. The uncertainty created by dragging out the wasteful royalty review has driven investment away.
Alberta actually has tremendous track record as far as the environment and regulation goes. When the USA brought in much stricter flare gas regulations in 2014, they copied a great deal of what Alberta had done to protect the environment. Our PM, and whomever else is touring the world running their mouths, should be stressing the improvements we have made and how far we have progressed as an industry. Perhaps, we should send some Canadians down to Louisiana and get on the news about how that state has polluted its own protected areas with rotted and rusting oilfield equipment? Maybe we should send some folks out to Ohio and other Eastern U.S. refineries that are leaking barrel upon barrel of oil into the ground? Alberta is in the middle of a smear campaign and our biggest problem is the movers and shakers in the NDP government, those who are supposed to represent us, is filled with folks who only a year ago would have architected such a campaign themselves!
We NEED a business friendly government that works WITH Alberta companies to stay solvent. We need support to expand our offerings and do things like creat new solutions and expanding into new markets so we can CREATE MORE JOBS! The oil and gas industry in Alberta continues to cut jobs and spending, but the reduction of investment in Alberta is a clear message to this government I truly hope gets heard. The recent rejection by Quebec of the energy east pipeline is ridiculous. They don’t even have the power to reject it as it is a federal decision.
Even a drama teacher MUST be able to figure out without Alberta’s cash his beloved Quebec would not have survived this long. He is obligated to do what is best for our ENTIRE COUNTRY and not just for good old “Lower Canada”.
By: Stephen Mackisoc, C.E.T. – Operations Consultant Plains Fabrication - Feb 2016 - oilfieldpulse.com