Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Line 9 Reversal

The chap from Blast Furnace Canada has a carefully reasoned take on what's at issue with the "Line 9 Reversal"--the plan to bring diluted bitumen from Alta/Sask's  tar-sands to refineries in Eastern Canada. Mind you, I disagree with his conclusion: a reluctant acceptance of the line for "energy security" reasons. My understanding  (and I haven't followed this project nearly as closely as Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain, or Keystone XL) is that this too is intended largely as an export pipe-line. The oil in it will be sold to China and other locales, and if anything it will drive Canadian gasoline prices higher rather than lower. I also think that the kind of upgrades to the existing pipe that BFC thinks necessary for safety reasons will never come to pass.  Rebuilding the line would be expensive, and the market take on a West-East line is already an unenthusiastic meh.  Driving up the costs of building it will not change this verdict.


Rene said...

Not simply the conclusions, BCL, but many of the assertions in the referenced blog are the type you would normally find in some Blogging Tory piece in favour of the pipeline.

For instance, Hamilton police needed the horses donated by Enbridge for "crowd control". What crowd control, what crowds - at the local football game?

Next, the enemy "terrorist" and suspect list including Venezuela.
Sure, it's much preferable to do business with Harper's favourite trading partner, China. Reformers are always big on proclaiming how they are so eager to boycott trade with Quebec due to its " human rights abuses" but consider China a favoured trading partner.

According to quite a number of bloggers on the "progressive bloggers" rostrum, we - the western imperialist nations - are the "terrorists", pursuing aggressive foreign policies fomenting war and destruction across the planet.

Finally, inasmuch as Quebec's approval is required for the project to proceed, Enbridge's contribution to the Hamilton Police Department was largely a wasted contribution. Nonetheless the horses can always come in handy to chase down bicycle thieves at the Tim Horton's or graffiti artists in back alleys...

bigcitylib said...

Yeah, I find it difficult to imagine this being built through Que.

The Mound of Sound said...

Once again we come back to the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Why isn't bitumen being refined in Alberta? Why do they have to export dilbit at all? It's costly to purchase, import and transport that condensate needed to mix with bitumen to create dilbit that can then be piped thousands of miles to a refinery where the condensate and petcoke can be refined out. Alberta could skip that procedure entirely, refine the bitumen on site, and then transport a much smaller volume of fully refined, and far less dangerous, synthetic petroleum products. And then there's the petcoke issue.

The only explanation ever given for not refining the crud on site in Athabasca is that there's surplus refining capacity elsewhere. So what?

Steve Bloom said...

Mound, I think your last remark implies the reason. An in situ refinery, expensive to build and operate (I imagine especially so in that locale), would have the tar sands as its sole source. This would make for a very expensive product, too expensive, I suspect, for such a project to be contemplated.