Low Oil Pressure – High Blood Pressure

The definition of a perfect mess is when everyone is suitably unhappy. Well, we have made it! Canadians’ discussions about oil have achieved that equilibrium!

A new set of National Energy Board hearings got underway in Burnaby to select the route of the Kinder Morgan pipeline through that City.  The 35 km segment of the pipeline that runs through Burnaby has generated 4,600 pages of evidence. The City is mad at Kinder Morgan, the federal cabinet and the NEB.  In their view there is no acceptable route for the pipeline.  The City has set the new Canadian record for NIMBYISM in its 22-minute video diatribe against the pipeline.

But the National Energy Board is disgusted with Burnaby too.  It says Burnaby’s dealing with Trans Mountain’s permitting requests was “not reasonable” and resulted in “unreasonable delay”. Those are swear words in bureaucratese. The NEB also set up its own dispute resolution mechanism so that if Burnaby continues to delay and deny – then the NEB will step in.

There are more route hearings slated for the interior of BC. It will take several months for the NEB to make a final determination of the route.

And Kinder Morgan is upset because they now see a delay of up to a year of the project and significant lost income.

And there is general unhappiness among the environmental and indigenous communities.  A consortium of 6 First Nations, Burnaby, Vancouver, the government of British Columbia and couple of environmental groups are challenging the federal cabinet’s approval of the project. The complaints are that First Nations were not consulted enough and federal environmental laws are being violated.

But some First Nations are upset with the environmental activists.  They complain that US funded environmental groups are “eco-colonialists”.  The complaint is that these green activists recruit token First Nation band members who support their agenda and demonize and ostracise those who don’t agree.  The loss of projects wipes out jobs and revenue for First Nations.

One group, Eagle Spirit Energy, wants to build a pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast, but the federal oil tanker ban in Northern BC was put in place without adequate indigenous consultation. So they are raising money to take the feds to court.

Meanwhile, back in Alberta the oilsands producers are unhappy too.  While world oil prices are rising to the $60 range; oilsands product prices remain low, hovering around $35.  More oil coming on-stream (250,000 barrels per day by mid 2018) and a spill and reduced pumping pressure in South Dakota from problems on TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, restricts getting to market and creates dismal prices.

The industry association that speaks for oilsands is decidedly glum. They say capital spending in the oil sands will decline for the fourth consecutive year to $12 billion in 2018 from $14 billion in 2017.

So now everyone is upset and 2018 doesn’t look like it will be any less contentious.