Tag Archives: foundations

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 (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 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 (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.

 

Tar Sands for the week (April 22, 2014)

One of the major ways in which social control is manifested most often in today’s decaying North American society is through marketing of supposed activist campaigns. Taking on the appearance of grassroots organizing, the centralized, top down nature of the “campaign” will seek to do two main functions: Usurp the role of the grassroots organizing that had previously taken place, and create and act out a narrative.

Much has been said of the first previously, but the second is perhaps more insidious. The recent example of– I’ve written this often enough I’m thinking it’s time to cut and paste– the Keystone XL being punted down the field by the Obama administration is a case in point. Capital has done what capital is wont to do; Centralized campaigning under a public relations exercise led by middle class climate scientist Bill McKibben publicly has declared that Keystone XL is a make or break point for the climate in the US.

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Tar Sands for the week (April 15, 2014).

It seems everyone has their own way of interpreting the latest projections from the IPCC on climate change. The main points are repeated, restated, and as climate campaigners like to note– unambiguous rejection of fossil fuels. Indeed, as projected in many quarters before the fact, the emissions we are dealing with have been speeding up. These are all new, damning facts.

There are other projections as well. The level of energy-change required to deal with the climate crisis is spelled out, painstakingly, in both terms of reductions in emissions but not without replacing the level of fossil fuel energy with wind, solar and other renewables.

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Tar Sands for the week (April 8, 2014).

Tar Sands. They may be the most destructive project in the history of humanity. Yes, all these megprojects combined together also create the largest project in the history of industrial developments– the Gigaproject. By linking projected developments associated with tar sands in northern Alberta all the way through to the North Slope in Alaska, possible connections to all three major oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and possibly even including Mexico itself via pipelines– oddly enough– that dip into and then back out of Mexico, taking bitumen on a little tour through territory captured through a different spate of violence during prior centuries.

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Tar Sands for the week (Mar 25, 2014)

 

A few years ago, I was living in the same Burnaby located apartment that I am now. I went outside and started to walk up the street to go to a local store, I certainly don’t remember which one at this time. When I got to the street adjoining the front of my apartment building the entire neighbourhood smelled of gas. It was a propane-like retching odour that went in my nostrils and quickly made me feel ill. Later that same day, parts of the road were cordoned off, and by the following day pipelines under the road were dug up, serviced in some manner and the smell of the gas went away.

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Tar Sands for the week (Mar 18, 2014).

We do have a situation where the problems in the climate are not accidents. They are crimes. All apologies to the prison abolitionists reading this, but crimes mean there are also criminals. With criminals, that means perpetration has taken place… and thus, if what happened is against the interests of human beings, then for those human beings at least, the perpetrators are enemies.

Why do I say all of that? Simply because we hear it said often– the environmental movement doesn’t have enemies anymore, just “potential partners.” This is supposed to come from the belief that corporations can and will make the needed adjustments to allow life to continue. This conveniently avoids noticing that they not only created the problems in the first place, they approach environmentalists as enemies– even the ones who are, in point of real fact, actually their best allies.

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