A GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY RESEARCH INC. report by J. David Hughes

Abstract

The Northern Gateway Pipeline project is designed to move 525,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen to Kitimat, British Columbia, from Bruderheim, Alberta, and 193,000 barrels per day of condensate in the opposite direction. The need for this pipeline is based on oil exports that would be generated by the Enbridge forecast of more than tripling oil sands production in Alberta by 2035 over 2010 production levels.

Less aggressive forecasts provided by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s (CAPP) reveal that there is sufficient capacity within the existing export pipeline system to cover its “in construction” scenario, which would see oil sands production grow by 50% over 2010 levels by 2025. Even in CAPP’s “growth” scenario, which would see oil sands production grow by two and a half times over 2010 levels by 2025, there is sufficient capacity in existing and near term planned export pipelines.

Canada’s intrinsic oil resources represent a highly strategic energy resource, and the oil sands represent 90% of what remains. Canadians are among the highest per capita consumers of oil in the world and are also significant oil importers, with eastern Canada being highly dependent on imports. An analysis of current Canadian oil consumption, imports, exports, production and remaining reserves, reveals that an exponential growth in oil sands production and exports will compromise the long term energy security interests of Canadians, as well as their environmental interests, given the physical footprint of such expanded oil sands operations and their atmospheric emissions. The looming issue of a global peak in oil production, which may occur within this decade, further emphasizes the strategic importance of Canada’s remaining oil reserves.

The absence of a National Energy Strategy, given the non-renewable nature of the majority of the energy inputs to Canadian society, represents an extreme vulnerability to the long term energy security interests of Canadians. Proposals such as Northern Gateway, which require uncontrolled growth to the detriment of the national interest, are one of the consequences of this.

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