Posts Tagged ‘Northern Gateway’

A pipeline, a pipeline, my kingdom for a pipeline

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

by Felix von Geyer

Canada needs more pipelines to enable the country’s economy to export its land-locked energy resources and enable economic growth, Canada’s Finance Minister and former Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told the annual Conference de Montreal/International Economic Forum of the Americas on Monday.

“We have much to be proud of but there are many challenges,” Oliver told the opening of the 20th International Econmomic Forum of the Americas as he highlighted that Canada’s resources comprise 18% of gross domestic product (GDP) with Alberta’s oil sands proving much of that driver, he said.

That is not enough. Canada’s oil and gas must be further developed within a landlocked country to enable it access to markets, notably South-East Asia, especially as looming US energy independence has started to stifle demand for Canada’s fossil fuels. On an economic scale, uncertain US economic growth and weak European growth remain risks to Canadian economic growth. Oliver took time to point to Canada’s two largest provinces Ontario and Quebec for not proving their economic potential, particularly in terms of job increases.

In a subsequent press conference, Oliver was adamant that a market for Canada’s oil and gas existed in countries such as Japan, China and South Korea. Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the continuing threat to Ukraine’s remaining territorial sovereignty has also placed increased value on Canada’s potential as an oil and gas exporter, but now to Western Europe where countries are looking for energy independence from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“Europeans knew they were excessively reliant on Russian oil and gas,” Oliver told, stating that six European countries had become reliant on Russian gas due to the initial low price.

“Canada is an obvious reliable source for oil and gas,” said Oliver, “but we need pipelines that would achieve that objective – not immediately – but in the near-term.”

Canada’s oil and gas resources remain controversial, especially as Environment Canada predicts the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to reach over 800 million tonnes by 2035 through increased oil sands production, leaving the country in a rogue position amid international action to combat man-made climate change. Former Environment Minister Peter Kent withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol in 2011 to avoid the country being held to account for failing to reduce its emissions 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. By 2035, the country is predicted to produce at least 33% more emission above 1990 levels.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, acknowledged Canada’s role as an energy-producing nation but asked for oil growth to be turned into green growth during her lunchtime talk at the Conference de Montreal. Her address included Oliver in the audience as well as former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Québec’s provincial Prime Minister Philippe Couillard. Growth needs to be balanced, she said and, while Canada’s energy potential could increase GDP by 2 percent if it developed the necessary transport infrastructure to unleash not only South-East Asian markets but also European ones; “attention is needed to take care of the environment,” she stated.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is scheduled to make a decison on the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline cross the country’s Rocky Mountain range and sensitive water resources to reach the port of Kitimat in northern British Columbia where tankers would transport Canada’s energy to South-East Asia.

Approval for the Keystone XL pipeline has been suspended pending a Nebraska Supreme Court decision on the proposed route. The pipeline would cross much of the United States’ largest water aquifer, the Ogallala Aquifer. Republican Senators have recently introduced legislation to Congress to speed the approval of the pipeline that according to Congressman Ed Markey would only benefit the so-called Koch brothers, owners of Koch Industries, who own the export terminal in Alberta and the receiving refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Port Arthur according to Markey is an enterprise zone meaning the refined petroleum products would be sent out for export, with no taxes being paid to federal or state governments in the US nor being sold to fill the gas tanks of US motorists.


Albertan Energy Minister strikes deal with China but Korea might move on by Felix von Geyer

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Alberta signed a legally non-binding Moratorium of Understanding with Beijing on Friday, Albertan Energy Minister Ken Hughes told reporters via a telephone press conference, although the relationship with Korea looks more uncertain.

The MOU provides Alberta with “highly unusual access” at Chinese policy level including sharing knowledge on best practice, other technology knowledge-sharing including on carbon capture and storage, said Hughes who signed the MOU in the presence of China’s President Xi Xinping and Canada’s Governor-General David Johnston.

Hughes who had toured both South Korea and China during this visit told New Orator that China was particularly interested in Canada’s natural resources, particularly its natural gas that provided a cleaner energy option than the coal which helped create poor air quality over many areas in China through the resulting smog. Despite the new MOU, Hughes stated that it was “Too early days” to suggest any forthcoming synergy between China and Canada in combatting climate change through any shared action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On the question of Korea’s position on using Canada as an energy provider, Hughes admitted that Korea had indicated it had “many other choices and will move on” if it cannot see Canada putting its relevant infrastructure in place. In Wednesday’s Throne Speech, federal Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that Ottawa was keen to work with provinces such as Ontario and BC and other willing jurisdictions to establish co-operation, especially around natural resources.

In his Throne Speech, Harper stressed that Canada’s energy reserves are “vast… but we must be able to sell them,” he said, stressing the country’s infrastructure shortages at a time when there was “unprecedented demand” for its energy resources.

Hughes stated that he had been on tour with the Deputy Premier of British Columbia, Rick Coleman, and that both provinces were “completely aligned” in their need to get their products to market. British Columbia is keen to sell its LNG to South-East Asia while Alberta’s oil sands is facing a continuing struggle to have both its Keystone XL pipeline to the US sanctioned by the US government as well as a pipeline such as the Northern Gateway stretching over to the West Coast.

Addressing the fact that a combination of the US shale oil and gas boom had reduced demand for Canadian energy as much as there is doubt as to any imminent green light for the Keystone pipeline, Hughes said: “We need to get our products to somewhere other than the United States of America.”