Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Enbridge's BC Battle

Well, it appears that the gloves are off in public for the opponents of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from Fort McMurray to Kitimat BC. This ad ran in today's Globe and Mail, as well as being widely posted online by the various signatories:


From the the point of view of Enbridge and other players in the oil industry the majority of the signatory list can be referred to in shorthand as 'the usual suspects'. That being said there are a couple of reasons that this public statement is significant. First and foremost the lengthy list of First Nations groups is a serious threat to the very existence of the project. Laying out a pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat that doesn't cross First Nation's land would be awkward, to put it mildly.

In addition the decision to challenge the pipeline on the basis of the risks on the maritime end is smart, on several levels. The ferry Queen of the North was lost in those waters in 2006 and the case has been in the news recently as the lawsuits wend their way through the courts. In addition this threat has enabled Greenpeace and other opponents of the pipeline to get the tourist and fishing industries on board with their opposition, as the organization and business lists reveal. Finally it enables them to challenge the pipeline without reference specifically to the domestic oil industry or the pipeline itself. This last demonstrates that Greenpeace and their allies have learned that threatening jobs and economic growth directly is a counterproductive marketing strategy.

It would be in Alberta's interests to see the development of this pipeline, or some similar project. Creating alternative markets for bitumen and oil outside of our current restrictions would help insure better access to markets, and perhaps a greater degree of competition for our raw product. Currently the pipeline grid means that our options are starkly limited in terms of refinery access - whereas a link to a deep-water port opens the world's refineries to us. Whether or not a modus vivendi can be found that makes this pipeline, or another like it, feasible is something that Alberta in particular and Canada more generally need to pay serious attention to.

* My thanks to @duncankinney for linking and discussing this with me today!


  1. Another whammy for Enbridge is a report coming out detailing the horrific biological impacts of a potential oil spill north of Haida Gwaii


  2. Glad to hear the "usual suspects" are trying to protect the environment, while the oil companies are looking after the economic interests of Alberta.