Tag Archives: climate change

Tar Sands bitumen spill: Nexen’s “Green” History

Bitumen Spill in Alberta: Nexen’s “Green” History

Tar sands companies promote offset schemes, gain social license to develop

July 17, 2015

The fact that this major spill comes from Nexen’s pipe, running from the Long Lake plant, is very notable. The process used in this plant was developed in Israel by a company called Ormat, who carried out oil shale research & development with this technology in the Niqab/Negev desert until the Israeli government (under Ariel Sharon) refused to subsidize production.

One of the largest operations for the production of tar sands crude in Alberta is the Long Lake Project. This massive facility, a steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operation, is the only major production plant that also operates an on-site upgrader, where the tar-like bitumen is diluted and transformed into a mock crude before further shipping to a refinery built by design to handle tar sands oil.

Long Lake North

From a flyover of the then Opti-Nexen Long Lake North plant in 2008. The plant has doubled in size and multiple times over in production since. It was then already the largest in-situ operation in Canada’s tar sands.

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Tar Sands for the Week (Mar 13, 2015).

You know how the bills can get– you can’t pay them, you borrow money, get a little further in debt but you put off the crash for a little while. Then your debt, of course, is higher and well, you keep finding ways to pay the minimum. Keeping yourself (supposedly) afloat from month to month is the kicker, no matter how bad the crash will be you put it off even if it makes the inevitable worse because, well, you have to. Otherwise everything stops– and you can’t just stop.

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Tar Sands for the Week (March 6, 2015).

Well, the dog and pony show continued last week. Once Obama’s veto came through the Democrats all but assured that well funded organizations within North America will maintain a pointless loyalty to the now lame duck President– and assure that many will stay within the sphere of the structures of capital yet again. Make no mistake– the organizing, mainly on the ground members of the various coalitions throughout the US that answered some level of the call for climate action– is what saw the end of this particular bill. But it is a rather obvious ploy by an Obama administration that has marched headlong into a fossil fuelled nightmare of accelerating climate change. After a combination of other pipelines, sections of the KXL itself and railcars– along with fracking tight oil, new permits for oil shale (!!) as well as tar sands in Utah & Colorado and more, a pointless veto that shores up “progressive” non-street cred could be issued.

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Tar Sands for the week (August 13, 2014).

There’s nothing like a good disaster to teach us about who our friends are in life. Think on your own life a little bit– there are moments where things were moving along very well, and you were surrounded by people who appeared to want to walk the road of life with you. Then you had a giant tragedy, a challenge, some major crossroads hit. Perhaps it was an illness, or a sick relative, loss of employment or another trying, similar situation.

The people in your life scattered themselves into two separate groups: Those who could not handle or chose not to be around during the immense struggles you and/or your family were facing, and those who stood with you more than ever. The first group of people are perhaps more common, but it is the second group of people that we cannot live without. They are the ones who have truly embraced friendship and do not put a price nor conditions upon their love– and their solidarity.

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Tar Sands for The Week (August 5, 2014).

Earlier this summer as part of work, oddly enough, dealing with the threat of climate change, I was in the Cariboo region of British Columbia. As a Vancouverite I perhaps get into this part of the land a little more often than most but it is still a rare, non-annual occurrence for myself. I won’t get into the specifics at the moment, but climate change and how it is exacerbated by bad forestry practices drew me to the areas around Williams Lake, north to Quesnel and past two separate roads that one could travel to see towns I have not in over a decade– Likely and Horsefly– original BC “Gold Rush” towns, now quite small in population.

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Tar Sands for the Week (July 22, 2014).

I would like to start this weeks rant with a slightly different tack– tar sands and the ongoing war on Gaza. The Israeli state is currently trying to eliminate resistance and ultimately the people of Gaza entirely; the “war” is not about rockets, nor kidnapped teenagers or anything similar to that, but a combination of forced submission attempts and punishment for Palestinian refusal to simply disappear from the planet and surrender their homeland. In this sense, what Gaza is enduring now is roughly the equivalent of what happened to indigenous peoples with events such as the Trail of Tears, the forced dispossession of children from families to residential schools, and the attempt to crush spirits to the level needed to build a “new” country where other people have lived and always will.

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Tar Sands for the Week (July 9, 2014).

2 Percent. It’s not the milk, but a percentage of the Canadian economy reliant upon tar sands production. For the Harper Government it’s a much larger number, because the Harperites– a Frankenstein’s monster emerging from years of the Ontario-centric Federal Liberal Party and major subsidies of the tar sands production– are a financially oil and gas grouping from southern Alberta.

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Tar Sands for the week (July 2, 2014).

It’s already been a couple of weeks since Gateway was approved and it appears little has changed. Organizing continues on all fronts, and any major attempts to derail other organizing in BC seems to be, so far at least, not affecting fracking campaigns, attempts to block the Kinder Morgan tar sands expansion or other vital work. Let’s hope this continues– but the big ENGO’s have not changed their tack, either.

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Tar Sands for the Week (June 24, 2014).

Last week the official decision came in on the Enbridge Gateway pipeline proposal, never mind the fact that the decision about the pipeline was long ago made in Indian Country, and that the majority of the settler population supports such a rejection– both for NIMBY and larger concern issues. The decision has highlighted well that there are essentially three poles within this gravity field in orbit around the single Enbridge proposal to transport the equivalent of over 2 of the largest strip mines in the world full of diluted tar sands bitumen.

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Tar sands on the road (starting May 29)…

For the next few weeks I will be primarily offline, and as such will not be posting the weekly tar sands updates. However, since I wanted to say something on the subject of the likely decision on Gateway upcoming and what it may mean, I will take the horrible risk of several predictions.

It will be approved. It will never be built.

The ENGO response is likely to be of scorn, and repeated calls to the public to further gather in places where the pipeline will be roundly denounced.

Community organizers will be marginalized.

More attempts to suck up to Christy Clark, the former PR worker for the firm that greenwashes Enbridge for hire. Rather than counting out the BC government, further lost time will be wasted on attaching hopes to the same premier that is currently on the all out attack against the very institutions that educate the children and, hopefully, prepare them for a world that her industrial friends are attempting to pave.

The idea of a systemic cause of tar sands pipelines will not be addressed by mainstream ENGO’s.

Fracking pipelines and their coincident LNG terminals are not to be opposed, either.

I also predict that many may take this opportunity to expose the true nature of the oil and gas economics inherent in capitalist processes, and begin to build alliances across communities. Indigenous resistance will carry the bulk of the solutions, while the talk of solutions as a buzz word for non-action will continue from outside community perspectives.

All in all, after the dust settles, the main factors– Government, federal & provincial– will continue to be the same pro-industrial, right wing and pro-corporate sector they always were. And certain sectors of the mainstream environmental movement will continue to lie to you about that, and ask you to send these people love letters in various forms.

Harper will fight, perhaps longer than is good for him, but ultimately will be busy doing the real work in the background, which is pushing every single aspect of other levels of industrial destruction from clearcuts, to LNG terminals, fracking and fracking pipes, river destruction, salmon killing and more… while the focus is moved to what I believe is the already dead pipeline.

Power is not our friend. It is an enemy, and it is coming for us wearing multiple disguises.

This matters.

Gateway is dead. Long live Gateway! It will kill off our resistance, too, if we are not careful.

…and with that, I shall be off to places in this territory mwhere the rumbles you hear are as often of raging waters as they are of logging trucks, and gas is better used to cook a small meal.