Canadian pipeline project dies, leaving Canada's filthy tar sands with nowhere to go

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Good news. However, Kinder Morgan is going to be a harder fight, because there’s more at stake financially and geopolitically with a pipeline headed to the Pacific Rim than there were with the pipelines going east and south. The protestors in BC and the new government there seem up to the task.


I think Trudeau has to approve pipelines that are probably going to fail for political reasons. Canada has a shit load of ‘jobs first and fuck the environment’ voters that could of swung the last election to the conservatives where the mantra is ‘tax breaks for the rich, shitty jobs for some, fuck the poor and the environment’. It’s better with Trudeau but not enough.


I have to agree. The federal Libs had to walk softly in Alberta given the oil-sands crash. The real fight over the pipelines was always going to be at the provincial level anyway given their degree of control over the natural resources portfolio .

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Honestly I think it’s bound to fail eventually anyway. From what understand the tar sands aren’t just the dirtiest source of oil. They’re the most expensive. The pipelines were intended to make it cheaper and more practical to transport. But when it costs so much just to get it out of the ground, never mind cleanup transport and other costs. Increasingly noone wants that shit.

It’s like American coal. It just can’t compete with cheaper oil, franked natural gas, And the dropping cost of sustainables. And the level of public subsidy needed to make it competitive is just not likely to happen.

Or so I’ve heard.


In the end, doesn’t it all come down to the oil producers in the Middle East being willing to make their product so cheap as to make the oil sands (with their accompanying regulatory hurdles) unprofitable?

That would in turn suggest that if alternative sources don’t end up becoming cheaper, these pipelines will be revisited again soon enough.


Stories like this are rough on me. On the one hand, I am happy because a) it’s better for the environment and b) when disaster strikes there always seems to be ways for companies to wriggle free and leave taxpayers on the hook. On the other hand, it’s a good thing my BIL picked up a second job, because his main job is in the oil patch. Which means that I have to know family is struggling and the rest of the family can’t understand why that isn’t my only concern (according to my family I am a hopelessly impractical lefty… Most of you would recognise me as far closer to centre).

On a third hand, this is why I will forever note that you never base your economy around a single commodity. I don’t care how much prosperity it promises, if it goes sideways, so does everything.



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It’s more like Saudi Arabia, at war with the frackers and Russia, made oil so cheap it’s unprofitable for everyone. Russia and Venezuela are hardly high-cost oil producers, but their economies are respectively in the toilet and in the bonfire.


See its not just that though. The OPEC countries and Russia are ramping up production to compete with the falling cost of sustainables and the very low cost of fracked natural gas from the US.

So you’ve got a little feed back loop going. So long as the natural gas remains at least cost competitive, and on net environmentally cleaner (which it is, fracking is fucked but oil and coal are worse). Long enough for green tech to continue coming down in price. More expensive fuel sources will continue to drop off. And China’s starting a big push into things like wind and solar. So that stuff is already at parity in the right areas, and it’s about to get down right cheap. The natural gas has already been creeping up in price, And there’s a serious anti-fracking push. And it hasn’t effected or slowed the dynamic yet. Coal was the first to go, The tar sands seem to be following. Any rise in other fossil fuel costs basically just exasperates it by making the sustainables and natural gas more competitive.


While I’m in favour of phasing out the fossil fuel industry, I don’t see this as real progress. Transmountain and line 3 are probably getting built, and Keystone XL may be too. In many ways Energy East looks like it was proposed for the sole purpose of being cancelled so that victory could be declared. It should also be pointed out that lots of tarsands oil is getting shipped by rail, and will continue to be so long as pipelines are unavailable.


Wow what an incredibly bias sensationalist article, I’m not sure how the oil sands are a bubble? A bubble is speculation based over inflation of an investment, oil companies are well aware of the ROI on their investments and are meeting demand with supply, or were so in the past.

I can’t believe trash like this can be passed off as legitimate information. Congratulations on being a trash lit journalist.

Welcome to BoingBoing. We try to do our bit for the environment here, which is why all our offices are lit by trash. Your support is appreciated.


The trouble here is this: A certain psychopathic prime minister from the last dark age fucked up Canada’s internal policies so badly that there was hardly any resource reserve left, so he doubled down and bet more on the tar sands.

Foreign, oil producing powers took note, and decided that they didn’t like the competition so they dropped the price of oil, squeezing out the already slim margins on that dirty Canadian oil, hoping to cause the nascent industry there to wither and fail.


I don’t think OPEC cared much about what Canada could squeeze out of the tar sands when their own stuff was much easier to get at. The House of Saud increased production mainly to punish regional neighbours who disagreed with them politically and to compete on price with natural gas and some renewables.

Canada and its dollar got hit as collateral damage, mostly due to Harper’s stupid and short-sighted dream of turning an advanced OECD country with a talented and educated populace into a petro-state which has all its economic eggs in one dirty resource-extraction basket. Insanity.


Not his base.


All fossil fuels shoud stay underground for the simple fact that in about 30,000 years we are going to need them so much.

If civilization survives that much, of course.

Does anyone here stop and think of the net carbon impact of transporting oil via rail, truck, and ocean tanker vs pipelines? How much diesel does it take to move tankers daily across the Atlantic? What’s that carbon footprint?

What about the track record of accidents using pipelines vs the other transportation options (guess you’re ok with another Lac Megantic disaster?). How about the human atrocities committed in Saudi, Nigeria, and Venezuela (where Quebec and Ontario gets most of its oil)? You’re ok with this? How can you rationalize this? Just as long as you can pull up to the pump and there’s gas there, who cares where it comes from, but oh don’t develop our own natural resources… It’s sickening the shortsightedness of our country. Does the east really not understand the wealth given freely to them over the years from the west via the development of those resources? How many roads, hospitals, and schools were built in the east with that money? Aren’t we all guilty of using this “dirty” Alberta oil for the countries own good?

Wouldn’t you rather have the oil developed and shipped to you knowing that it’s regulated under a strict environmental regime, without human oppression, from a FREE country?

How do you get from Trudeau being the biggest pipeline supporter to the pipeline dying because of the carbon tax he proposed (and Alberta implemented)?! The reality is the pipeline was effectively dead when oil prices crashed followed by Trump reviving Keystone. If Alberta oil can go south it doesn’t need to go east.

I don’t disagree Trudeau had a hand in this but it was through the NEB tweaking up the regulatory process, not through carbon taxes. He’s been quite clever about the whole thing really, playing both sides against the middle. Not sure what his end game or best case is but I bet it’s Transmountain gets cancelled and Keystone gets expanded. Then the oil sands get to live and he can blame it on Trump. Political win-win.