Research Paper: Should New Pipelines be Built to Transport Alberta Oil?
The construction of new oil pipelines to transport Alberta oil received mixed reactions since its conception. There are those who believed that the new development would be of profound benefits to the Canadian economy and that of the entire world. Transporting oil beyond United States and Russia was a dream that this country wanted to come true. On the other hand, some of the Canadians, United States citizens and environmental activists strongly opposed this move on the basis that it posed more risks to the environment than the benefits. These contrasting positions sparked heated debates among various stakeholder and parties which had interests in these projects. Owing to the fact that Alberta is the region with the second largest oil deposits after Saudi Arabia, it badly needs the expansion of its pipeline transport system to transport more of oil products.
According to the State department’s environmental assessment report, the TransCanada Company had agreed to take the necessary measures to curb oil spills that such projects would cause. This view is opposed to other environmentalists who believe that these projects have no good to the public and the countries through which these pipelines are to pass. Those who are opposed to this move have since criticized this report arguing that this department is simply taking sides with the pipeline project.
The TransCanada Company is very determine to carry on with the projects and keeps looking for alternative wherever it meets frustrations towards its moves. Its determination is actually stronger than even the attempts that are directed towards its projects. For instance, when President Obama delayed the project for one year, this company is still determined and moving on strong. This company is even seeking for alternative destinations such as china to counter the British Columbia’s rejection of the company’s pipeline projects. This shows a very strong determination and support for the project.
In the actual sense, pipeline transport of natural gas and oil is safer than using the on road means to transport the same products. First of all, it is cheaper than road transport. This is because the cost of maintaining road transport is very high as compared to the pipeline channels. In fact even the United States government would rather go for pipeline transport than other means. This leaves the government in a dilemma situation on whether to approve or to reject the project.
The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was strongly opposed from both within and outside world. Appadurai (2012) reiterates this statement by citing that as president Obama rejected the proposition of building this pipeline, many Americans and Canadians demonstrated in opposition to the construction of this pipeline fearing its effects on the environment. Many citizens argued that the extraction of a single barrel of sand oil from bitumen is capable of produce carbon emissions between 3-4 times more that other greenhouse gases produced by the conventional oil. Through this pipeline, Canada intended to transport oil from her oil sands to China by crossing several borders. Part of this crude sands oil would also be transported to the United States refineries. (Appadurai, 2012, p. 140)
This stong rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by President Obama was viewed by many analysts as more political than economic. It is very clear that many environmental activists were against the construction of this pipeline citing that it would be more harmful to the environment than it could benefit the economy of the nations involved. Broder and Krauss emphasizes that Peresident Obama feared losing the support of the environmental activists who were a key factor in his first election. In doing so, he rejected the proposition of the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. (Broder and Krauss, 2011)
Construction of more pipelines appears to be unsustainable especially in the energy industry. Pipelines increase carbon emissions which lead to large environmental degradation. The Council of Canadians agitated that the Northern Alberta tar sands pipelines would pose more serious threats to the local water sources and the people who hail along their routes. Angela, the council’s Atlantic Regional Organizer stated that both the export tankers and pipelines put the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Fundy Bay. Angela emphasizes that the world’s water bodies must be protected as the public trust and must not be viewed as a pathway for relaying oil exports. The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would contradict this statement. (Council of Canada, 2013)
Ian Austen in his article Canada’s New Pipeline Woes points out that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project has experienced a strong joint opposition from the British Columbia. He argues that mistakes that Canada committed during her regulatory public hearings on the pipeline project and the way in which it dealt with the recent Michigan pipeline spills bolstered the resistance. This article further illustrates that the British Columbia feared bearing full risks without any benefits. (Austen, 2012)
In conclusion, the construcion of new oil pipelines to transport the alberta oil is a very controversal issue that has drawn mixe reactions from government, environmentalists and the construction industries. Every side of this debate has been strongly defending their arguments. To date, many attempts has been made so far to push for the constructjion of these pipelines. However, the public as wella as some environmental impact assessment analysts have strongly called for the rejection of such bids. The success of this project highly depends on the support of several federal agencies, more research and establishment of good international relations with the countries involved. Above all these issues, safety of the community would define the kind of transportation method to be used. (David and Stewart, 2010)
Appadurai, S. (2012). Canada: A Nation in Motion. USA: AuthorHouse.
Austen, I. (2012, October 23). Canada’s New Pipeline Woes. The Newyork Times , p. F7.
Council of Canadians Opposes West-to-East Oil Pipeline Plan. (2013, February 8). Retrieved
March 2, 2013, from Council of Canadians: http://canadians.org/media/energy/2013/08-
John M. Broder and Clifford Krauss. (2011, August 26). U.S. Offers Key Support to Canadian
Pipeline. The New York Times , p. B1.
Pierre A. David and Richard D. Stewart. (2010). International Logistics: The Management of
International Trade Operations (3 ed.). USA: Cengage Learning.