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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So I put together a little sheet on Canada-Israel extreme extraction links below. Why did I do that? Well, it’s been a strange week for tar sands developments, if you’ll pardon that pun. Almost a week ago, and during his Honor the Treaties tour, Neil Young was revealed to currently have booked an upcoming trip that will include playing before an apartheid audience in Tel Aviv. Young’s incredibly successful, powerful concerts and fund raising endeavor on behalf of legal defense for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation concluded on Sunday, which not at all coincidentally now kicks off the second Neil Young, solidarity with indigenous resistance campaign– this time, without him.
The possible damage to the struggle in Palestine is already being celebrated by various advocates for Israeli colonialism. Titles such as “Neil Young Proves the Failure of BDS’s “Cultural Boycott” with screeds denouncing people such as Roger Waters or Alice Walker (who wrote an excellent appeal to Alicia Keys, who played Israel last year in defiance of the boycott) have flooded out already. In one of the initial reports, in fact, Israeli apartheid apologists couldn’t conceal their glee in what was supposedly a simple news story at the Jerusalem Post: “With reports of shows by The Rolling Stones, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga still in circulation, 2014 is shaping up to be one of Israel’s most active for musical imports. Did someone mention boycott?” Continue reading
A separate economic note brought a slightly older story to light for me today. It seems that in Mongolia last June, which is just two months after the announcement of new mining contracts with US company Genie Energy to extract kerogen-based oil shale, Mongolian start up corporation HB Oil announced a deal to buy into a refinery by the name of Sungri in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or north Korea.
At the time of the announcement the link to the oil shale developments was not made, however Chinese influenced Mongolian MAK and Genie have now been linked to the possible future feedstock of the DPRK located refinery. Accordingly, it seems that US owned and Zionist-conceived Genie Energy (whose advisory board includes Rupert Murdoch, Lord Jacob Rothschild and Dick Cheney, among other prominents of reaction) may now be teaming up in a round about way (Mongolia has nearly no known conventional oil) to open up the “final frontier” of commercial oil to decimate the climate.
Tar Sands World for the week (December 10, 2013)
CNN ran a story, written elsewhere, detailing the long term energy from shale goals coming out of Estonia. Estonia, a country and region you might as well get used to reading me raise the alarm over so far as extreme energy plays, produces more electricity from oil shale pyrolysis that it currently consumes. Problem, of course, is that this energy development is dirtier than coal, never mind tar sands.
Perhaps the biggest news in extreme extraction in the last week comes from a tiny country. Estonia, the lone veteran nation-state of converting kerogen oil shale into mock fuel, has joined the International Energy Agency. A body that is only open to OECD countries, Estonia has not been a part of the organization in the past. Given requirements of 90 day stockpiling and the ability to implement 10% consumption “restraint” as a part of membership, Estonia– whose oil shale industry accounts for over 90% of local energy (both shale fired power plants as well as kerogen shale into oil)– is likely banking this “normalizes” oil from kerogen and shale-fired electricity.
The IEA coordinates energy policy, including stocks, & integrates energy across member countries to a large degree. Estonia is doing in Europe much the same as Canada’s tar sands lobbyists (otherwise known as the Harper Government). Advocating against the Fuel Quality Directive, Estonia has also argued against the inclusion of clauses that Canada is desperately trying to avoid.
June 12, 2013
Colonialism, Mining and Oil Shale: Don’t Let the Genie Out of the Bottle
Mongolia, Canada, Israel & the United States
by MACDONALD STAINSBY
originally published in Counterpunch
Ulan Bator: When you get out of the plane and enter the Chinngis Khan Airport just outside of Ulan Bator, you quickly realize that Mongolia is a former Soviet Republic. An incredibly drab and oddly out of date international airport, the walls of the customs area have peeling paint and general disorganization as you struggle to figure out where any line up for customs begins and ends. You can see the stone faced bureaucrats and soldiers in seemingly dated uniforms standing around while you’re getting ready to show off the required prearranged visa. After you stumble your way through that mess, you get to the conveyor belt that jams with luggage bags that are apparently much larger now on average than when it was first constructed. The feeling of being in a time warp lasts– right up until you step outside for the first time.
Immediately upon getting outside, in the dark and on a chilly night reminiscent of northern Canada despite the date being in the middle of May, I was confronted by a man from my home province of British Columbia, Canada. Skipping the usual opening conversation about the ongoing hockey playoffs I normally attempt with ex-pats carrying the same passport as I, he told me immediately that he was working for one of the large mining companies.