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The tar sands and us

The Athabasca Tar Sands - credit: Wikimedia CommonsExcerpt: “What madness this all is! Wasn’t the idea that we’d wean ourselves off oil and concentrate our efforts and our money on substitutes? Can’t we see that by extracting oil that can only be viable if the price of oil is near $100 a barrel that we’re in fact making the high price of oil a self-fulfilling prophecy?”

Read the full story at The Common Sense Canadian – click here.

4 Responses to “The tar sands and us”

  1. Oil Spill says:

    Is anybody out there?
    Crude oil tankers moving in the PORT OF VANCOUVER to the Burnaby Kinder Morgan Terminal now carry as much crude oil per trip as the Exon Valdez spilled in Alaska. The number of super tankers is planned to increase to 1 tanker every other day.
    Flying completely under the radar and blissfully ignored by the environmental and first nations organizations is an existing and rapidly growing crude oil shipment business through the Port of Vancouver, complete with its own significant expansion goals and sights also set on future Asian markets.
    Kinder Morgan Canada already runs a crude oil pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby, recently expanding it to carry 300,000 barrels a day of oil. It also has another expansion program in the works (perhaps getting the green light in the next few months) to take that line, a few steps at a time, up to a maximum potential of 700,000 barrels a day.
    While some of that oil continues through an extension to Burnaby’s Chevron refinery and oil refineries in Washington state, and some of the pipeline capacity (about 20 per cent) is used to ship refined products such as gasoline, almost all of the expanded capacity has left our shores on a ship.
    In 2009, the Port of Vancouver saw crude oil shipments grow by 94 per cent (as of the end of October) from 1.7 million tonnes last year to 3.3 million tonnes this year. Kinder Morgan officials say they expect to load 80 oil tankers in 2009, compared with 55 the year before. In less than a year since Kinder Morgan’s expanded pipeline was opened for business, it’s pretty much full.
    Why is the environmental movement ignoring this business? Part of it lies in the fact that oil has been shipped through Vancouver in tankers since the 1950s, with nary a drop spilled anywhere. That’s not a stat you’d like widely known if your goal is to stop similar shipments from a new port in Kitimat.
    Added to that is the fact that the ships destined for Kitimat are VLCCs (very large crude carriers), which hold two million barrels of oil. Ships coming to Vancouver are much smaller.
    But they may soon get bigger.
    Port Metro Vancouver has, for the past five years, been working behind the scenes on protocols and regulations designed to first allow the current fleet of ships taking on oil at Burnaby’s Westridge Terminal to take on maximum loads.
    Aframax tankers — the largest to berth at Westridge — can carry about 700,000 barrels of oil. But restrictions dictated by the Second Narrows waterway means they can never take a full load, and can draw only 12.5 meters of water.
    “The goal is to be able to have an Aframax, fully loaded, at 15 meters,” said Yoss LeClerc, Port Metro Vancouver’s harbour master. “By the end of the first quarter next year, we’ll go to 13.5 meters, but there’s still some work to do to hit 15 meters.”
    Water depth and channel width are not the issue here; it’s how can you safely navigate those depths and widths with the regulations, new navigational aids, and crew training to take better advantage of the existing channel, with perhaps a little dredging to help. As LeClerc explains, the goal of allowing fully loaded Aframax tankers to transit the Second Narrows is achievable with a significant increase in safety margins.
    But that’s not the end of it. The next goal is to determine if Suezmax-sized tankers — carrying one million barrels — can safely get to and from the Westridge loading dock.
    (Panamax ships are the largest vessels that can use the Panama Canal; Suezmax ships are the largest vessels that can use the Suez Canal; and Aframax vessels break that naming pattern as they use an acronym from the Average Freight Rate Assessment (AFRA) tanker rate system.)
    Norm Rinne, the senior director for business development at Kinder Morgan Canada, says that the current fleet of Aframax and the smaller Panamax-sized tankers are just the right ships for the California ports, where most ships from Vancouver are headed. But if Asian markets become the primary destination for all that crude oil, then bigger ships will be needed.
    “We can grow the pipeline over time, look to add a Suezmax, and offer a more cost-effective route to Asia if that market grows,” Rinne said. “That’s what we like about expanding our corridor: Our shippers have the most options. If it makes sense for a Suezmax, then it gives a more economic route for barrels to Asia.”
    Said the port’s LeClerc: “Suezmax is not impossible. We have the width, the depth, and we have plans to dredge First and Second Narrows. There is a possibility for Suezmax.”
    He points out that a loaded Suezmax vessel will need 18 meters of depth.
    Rinne says that once Kinder Morgan has expanded its Vancouver pipeline system to 700,000 barrels a day, additional market demand would require a new pipeline to Kitimat, perhaps paralleling in some respects the Enbridge project.
    And that may end up being Canada’s ace in the oil export business. Combined, the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge projects would bring crude oil capacity on Canada’s West Coast to about 1.6 million barrels a day, with 700,000 through Vancouver and 900,000 through Kitimat.

  2. Oil Spill Tom says:

    Oil Spill Risk Increases

    Port of Vancouver
    In 2005 the Port of Vancouver reported handling 6,918,000 tons of liquid cargo and the 2007 statistics show that since 2001 there has been a 1.3 million ton increase in tanker shipments of crude oil, diesel oil, jet fuel, gasoline and chemicals. In the first quarter of 2007 shipments to and from the United States alone increased by 16% and these numbers and are expected to continue to grow dramatically increasing the risk of a serious spill.

    Kinder MorganTMX2 Expansion
    The Kinder Morgan TMX2 project which is scheduled to complete in 2009 will increase by 100,000 barrels per day the amount of Crude Oil it receives through the pipeline to their Burnaby terminal. What they don’t mention in their brochure is that most of this crude oil will be loaded aboard tankers at their Burnaby terminal for transport through the Port of Vancouver and our pristine coastal waters to the USA and the Asia Pacific.

    To facilitate the increased output Kinder Morgan initiated a behind closed doors review to increase the size of tankers calling at their Burnaby terminal. This means that even larger crude oil tankers will be passing through Second Narrows from the refineries in Burnaby through the heart of Vancouver to refineries in the USA.

    Regulation Changes = Larger Tankers
    A series of closed door meetings were held between Kinder Morgan and the Port Of Vancouver to study how to change existing harbor regulations in order to allow very large tankers at Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby loading terminal. The study is complete and the changes are about to be implemented allowing larger and deeper crude oil tankers to move through local waters. The regulation changes have been finalized behind closed doors without political, public or environmental oversight.

    What are the risks?
    Large tidal ranges, fast flowing currents and the strong winds commonly occur within the Salish basin which means that when an oil spill occurs, and the conditions are extreme the oil will spread miles in just a few hours and once in open water will continue to spread. The result will be an uncontrollable environmental catastrophe.

    More Tankers = Greater Risk of a Spill
    Currently 600 tankers per year call at the port of Vancouver and this number will increase by an additional 100 ships annually just to service the Kinder Morgan TMX2 Expansion project. Once complete the added pipeline capacity will increase by 100,000 barrels per day the amount of Tar Sands crude oil shipped through the Port of Vancouver much of it will be loaded into oil tankers for export.

    Larger Tankers = Larger Risk?
    In 2008 approximately 600 tankers visited the Port of Vancouver to load and discharge their cargos. In 2009 once the Kinder Morgan TMX2 expansion is complete at least 100 additional tankers will load crude oil at their terminal annually. The ships will be larger because existing Coast Guard restrictions limiting the size of tankers within in the port are being re-written to allow larger tankers into the Kinder Morgan facility. Many of the tankers will contain as much oil as the Exxon Valdez spill.

    Who is Responsible for the clean up?
    Politicians and the oil industry assure Canadians that in partner with the United States we have the ability to mobilize pollution equipment to effectively contain a major spill and that industry will pay the costs. The reality is most spills do not happen in daylight under perfect weather conditions. Just getting containment equipment to an isolated spill site can be hampered by extreme weather conditions, fog, poor communications and human error.

    When the cleanup budget has been spent and crude oil still fouls the beaches it will be the taxpayers that are forced to pick up the costs.

    What happened in the Recent San Francisco Oil Spill
    The 2007 oil spill in San Francisco occurred when a ship hit the Bay Bridge putting several holes in the ship causing it to spill oil into San Francisco Bay. In the beginning it was considered a small spill. It was soon made worse by poor onsite management and insufficient on scene resources. Attempts to stop the spread of the oil was aggravated by poor communication and when combined with strong currents and poor visibility a relatively small spill became a costly environmental disaster paid for by the tax payers of California

    This spill happened within the confines of San Francisco Bay, which with its bridges, fog and strong currents shares a lot of similarities with the Port of Vancouver. This same conditions, strong currents and fog means that when an oil spill happens containment and recovery will be time consuming and very expensive.

    Is It Too Late?
    Time is running out before we see very large tankers transporting crude oil right through the middle of Vancouver.

    Contact your local politicians and ask if they agreed with allowing large crude oil tankers in your neighborhood.

  3. Kate Anderson says:

    This really disturbs me and I would be happy to write to my local politicians. I want more concrete references though, to formulate my concerns. Can you lead me towards more information on the matter?
    Thanks,
    Kate

  4. Oil Spill Tom says:

    Kinder Morgan TMX-2 Project

    TMX-2 Project
    Kinder Morgan Canada (formerly Terasen Pipelines) is planning to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline system to transport increasing volumes of crude oil from Western Canada to West Coast markets.
    The expansion involves constructing the required tankage to support the
    increase in capacity and to improve flexibility for product handling for customers.
    Kinder Morgan Canada transports hydrocarbon products from the oil fields in Alberta and northeast British Columbia to processing plants on the West Coast. These products are transported through the pipeline in batches to our customers who process the material to provide gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, lubricating oils and other products.

    Tanks are used to segregate and accumulate these batches for efficient delivery to our customers.

    Presently, the Burnaby facility contains 13 storage tanks
    with a total volume of 268,840 m3 (1.7 million barrels). The Trans Mountain pipeline also transports crude oil, iso-octane (a gasoline additive) and other products, which are accumulated at the facility before either being used by local refineries to produce automotive fuels and asphalt for road construction, OR LOADED ON TANKERS at the WESTRIDGE MARINE TERMINAL in the Burrard Inlet FOR EXPORT.

    Kinder Morgan Canada has proposed a staged approach to increasing the pipeline capacity on the Trans Mountain system. This approach provides Kinder Morgan Canada’s customers the opportunity to align future oil production scenarios with future market demand.

    The TMX-2 project (TMX-2) is the second major proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain system, and will add an additional 15,899 cubic metre per day (100,000 barrels per day) of incremental capacity by the end of 2009. TMX-2 follows in the footsteps of the Trans Mountain Pump Station Expansion project currently under construction and the Anchor Loop project.

    This text is from Kinder Morgans Website which was removed in 2010

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