The Oil and Gas Debate

I live in Alberta. I have worked in the Oil and Gas sector for numerous years. Alberta’s economy is largely derived from our oil and gas production / export. I, like many others, have depended on our Alberta Oil Sands for my livelihood. My income. And basic day-to-day things that most people around the globe depend on. Cars. Energy. Heat. Electronics. Clothing. Food.

The list goes on.

Having said that, while I understand and don’t necessarily disagree with the valid reasons environmentalists are against the oil and gas industry, I do want to make a few points of my own, in support of the industry that literally none of us in Canada are currently existing without.

The Trans Mountain Pipeline project alone creates over 5,000 jobs straight off. (See https://www.transmountain.com/benefits) with some sites estimating the creation of more 30,000 jobs overall. I can not verify those numbers; however, so I will go with the lower projection of 5,000. Which is still significant. In a time when the economy is so hard hit, it is imperative that we get Canadians working. Overall, and pipeline project aside, the industry provides almost half a million jobs in Canada (see https://www.enbridge.com/energy-matters/news-and-views/capp-economic-contribution)

But, to paraphrase a sentiment seemingly shared by anti-oil and gassers:

“Alberta can find other sources of income”

Okay fine. Can’t argue that, but what other sources? Our main resources in Alberta are oil, agriculture, beef and (!!) forestry. So let’s cut out the oil part, despite the fact that it makes up 27.9% of Alberta’s economy (based on 2016 statistics found here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Alberta).

That leaves us with agriculture. Which relies on what to operate machinery, and processing plants? Oil and gas. Okay let’s go to beef… oh wait that also relies on oil and gas to run facilities and equipment. Alright… forestry? (Fun fact, Alberta is number three in forestry in Canada, coming behind BC and Quebec as noted here: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/natural-resources-in-alberta). Oh yeah… forestry also relies on – you guessed it – oil and gas.

Not only that, but aside from agriculture (but only if you exclude the machinery and processing involved) each of our natural resources in Alberta leaves its own heavy carbon footprint.

So… while I’m all for finding alternate means to support our province – and our country – until such time as there is a workable and realistic solution that cuts out the need for oil and gas all together… well hell. I guess I’m going to support the industry that is currently supporting literally every aspect of our daily lives.

Yes – there is renewable energy. Of course. But it needs to be put into play on a big scale before we can omit oil and gas. Farm equipment would need to be modified to run on solar power (or some such thing). Factories, plants, business… all would need to be converted. As would the average home, and vehicle. And again, even at that, many of our basic “necessities” (aka: relied upon luxuries) require petroleum products to simply run. Such as our oh so important cell phones and computers. If you’re so inclined to look at a US based site on what petroleum is used for you can check here: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=41&t=6. If you are not inclined to look for yourself I’ll save you some time by saying almost EVERYTHING we use in our normal day to day is made with, uses, or relies on petroleum in some fashion.

Economy and livelihood aside… let’s look at the environment.

We can all agree that the oil and gas industry leaves a footprint. There isn’t a soul on earth that can argue that it doesn’t. So, since we can all agree it leaves a footprint, and we should all be able to agree that at this point we DO, in fact, ALL rely on the oil and gas industry to sustain our way of life (if you argue that point I will ask you how you are reading this, since, regardless of your method, oil and gas is the reason you’re ABLE to read this…), let’s look at the pros and cons of transport methods, shall we?

https://www.capp.ca/energy/transportation/

580 million barrels of oil are transported by ship through Canadian waters each year, and make up 2% of ship transport in Port Metro Vancouver alone. But wait… what powers those ships? Oh right. Oil and Gas.

237,000 barrels were transported each day by rail in 2019. Again… what powers those trains?

How about truck transport? Oh yes… that too requires both oil and gas both in making the trucks and utilizing them.

Let’s ask a question… how many trains do you see near communities? What happens if one of those trains carrying oil derails and spills into a community? The results are disastrous, as we all know by now.

How about an oil barge in the ocean? What happens when a spill occurs in the ocean? How easy is that clean up?

All right, what about the trucks carrying oil though our cities? How do you feel about a truck carrying oil spilling into your streets?

Now let’s look at pipelines… before anything else, I want to point out that pipelines – well maintained pipelines – are by far the most economical, efficient, and – yes – environmentally friendly way to transport oil. Canada happens to have one of the highest standards for pipeline construction and maintenance by the way, with our pipeline spills being a massive 60% lower than pipeline spills in the US.

A brief article with some insight here: https://www.aboutpipelines.com/en/blog/pipeline-regulations-and-safety-4-reasons-canadas-system-is-world-class/

In the event that a pipeline ruptures – and unfortunately it does happen – the environmental and social impact is likely to be far less significant than if, say a barge leaks into the ocean. Or a train derails in a neighbourhood.

Part of this has to do with the fact that most pipelines – and certainly the major ones – have immediate leak detections. Pipelines are also designed to last pretty much forever without leaking (assuming proper maintenance is being employed) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leak_detection

Also bear in mind (this is for the environmentalists out there) that pipelines transport oil and gas with massively reduced emissions when compared to other transport methods. Trucks, trains, and boats all increase emissions in huge quantities, especially when you consider the time it takes to get any of those to their destination, remembering the heavier a load is the more gas it takes to transport that load.

There is so much more to be said on this….

I am all for finding alternate sources of energy. I am all for saving the planet. But in the present day where we ALL rely so heavily on the oil and gas industry, I will say that until such a time as alternate means are effectively put into place globally, I have to stand by and support the industry that literally fuels all of our lives, and provides some economic stability (despite the downturn in prices) to our province overall.

I will revisit and expand on this in the near future but for now, check out the additional links below…

As always, thanks for reading.

~Erin.

Here is a list of oil spills worldwide https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills.

This is an interesting read in and of itself on transportation methods and safety within Canada. https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2018/10/11/which-is-safer-for-transporting-crude-oil-rail-truck-pipeline-or-boat/amp/

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