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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oil News: Notes on Keystone, Refineries, and Oil Sands

I'm working on a big feature on the TransCanada Keystone pipeline, which is being welded and buried 27 miles west of my house right now, so let's prime the pump with some oil industry news:

Watch Your Step: The Jamestown Sun reports that horizontal drilling for the Keystone pipeline caused seven sinkholes in the Pembina Gorge. A Keystone pipeline spokesman says the holes have been filled.

Backwards Municipal Marketing: The city of Norfolk, Nebraska, has created a "pipeline partnership program": the 750-some pipeline workers temporarily based in Norfolk get discounts at local stores. The Norfolk program seems to have the same flaw as cell phone deals for new customers: giving a discount to someone while charging your regular customers full price makes those loyal customers—in this case, your permanent residents—feel like second-class citizens. I might suggest Madison could try doing something like the Norfolk program... but if a town has money to throw around, wouldn't it make more sense to give discounts to folks laid off from Gehl and others who actually need help paying the bills?

What Refinery? More evidence that folks banking on Hyperion to build a refinery near Elk Point are wishing on a falling star: Petroleum Economist reports that North American refiners are retreating from plans for expansion and new construction. Irving and BP axed a New Brunswick refinery project: "Based on their own 18-month evaluation of various forecasts for gasoline demand over the next 30 years, the two companies concluded that North American consumption has peaked for the foreseeable future" [emphasis mine].

Canadian Oil Sands Pollution: Two studies funded by the Alberta government find greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian oil sands production (that's where TransCanada's oil comes from) are similar to emissions from conventional oil production in some areas. The Pembina Institute points out that the studies compare Alberta's oil sands industry to places like Nigeria, where environmental regulations are abbysmally weak. Pembina says the Alberta studies still show that "producing and burning oil from the oil sands results in up to 45 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions relative to some sources of conventional crude oil."

1 comment:

  1. Kelly Fuller9/04/2009 10:41 AM

    Nice point about the lack of a discount for local residents. The discount is kind of puzzling in that the pipeline has been sold to merchants all along its length as a way they will make a ton of cash. Why pass some of that up? Perhaps the town is afraid the pipeline paychecks will go elsewhere without that incentive?


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