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Indigenous communities await Trans Mountain pipeline share

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Tanker Dubai Angel at the Trans Mountain terminal, Burnaby
(Photo: Radio-Canada / Georgie Smyth / CBC)

From Resource Works

Ottawa’s Commitment to 30 percent Indigenous Stake in Trans Mountain Pipeline Still Awaiting Confirmation.

Indigenous leaders in Western Canada have been waiting for months for confirmation that the federal government will indeed enable Indigenous Peoples to get a 30 percent share in the Trans Mountain oil pipeline system.

That Ottawa has such a share in mind has been confirmed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. She says Ottawa is looking at possibly offering a loan guarantee to First Nations.

“They wanted to get the Indigenous partners to own 30 per cent. . . . It’s going to be a great source of income for the Indigenous partners.”

With the pipeline system’s capacity set to almost triple through the expansion project known as TMX, the federal government first announced in 2019, its intention to explore the possibility of the economic participation of 129 affected Indigenous Peoples.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland sent Indigenous leaders a letter last August outlining a plan to sell a stake in the pipeline system to eligible communities through a special-purpose vehicle. It said they would not have to risk any of their own money to participate.

But since then Indigenous groups have been awaiting further word from federal authorities on how and when the equity promise will be kept.

All Ottawa has said publicly is this on May 1: “The federal government will launch a divestment process in due course.”

Two key groups have aired proposals for acquiring equity in the oil pipeline:

  • The Western Indigenous Pipeline Group was formed in 2018 “ to acquire a major stake in Trans Mountain for the benefit of Indigenous communities who live along the pipeline.” It’s been working behind the scenes, and, with Pembina Pipelines Corporation, developed in 2021 the Chinook Pathways operating partnership.

“Chinook Pathways is finance ready. There are no capital contributions required for Indigenous communities. We will structure the transaction so that participating communities will make zero financial contribution.”

  • Project Reconciliation, also founded in 2018, proposed a ”framework” that would give ownership of the pipeline system to 129 Indigenous Peoples.
    “We are poised to facilitate Indigenous ownership of up to 100 percent, fostering economic autonomy and environmental responsibility.”

And: “A portion of revenue generated (portion directed by each Indigenous community) will be used to establish the Indigenous Sovereign Wealth Fund, supporting investment in infrastructure, clean energy projects and renewable technologies.”

In Alberta, the pipeline system spans the territories of Treaty 6, Treaty 8, and the Métis Nation of Alberta (Zone 4). In British Columbia, the system crosses numerous traditional territories and 15 First Nation reserves.

Commentator Joseph Quesnel writes: “According to Trans Mountain, there have been 73,000 points of contact with Indigenous communities throughout Alberta and British Columbia as the expansion was developed and constructed. . . .

“Beyond formal Indigenous engagement, the project proponent conducted numerous environmental and engineering field studies. These included studies drawing on deep Indigenous input, such as traditional ecological knowledge studies, traditional land use studies, and traditional marine land use studies.”

And Alberta’s Canadian Energy Centre reported: “In addition to $4.9 billion in contracts with Indigenous businesses during construction, the project leaves behind more than $650 million in benefit agreements and $1.2 billion in skills training with Indigenous communities.”

Not all First Nations have been happy with the expansion project.

In 2018, the federal appeal court ruled that Ottawa had failed to consider the concerns of several nations that challenged the project. In 2019, the project was re-approved by Ottawa, and again several nations (including the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh) appealed. That appeal was dismissed in 2020. The nations then went to the Supreme Court of Canada, but it declined to hear the case.

Private company Kinder Morgan originally proposed the expansion project, but when it threatened to back out in 2018, the federal government stepped in and bought the existing pipeline, and the expansion project, for $4.5-billion. Ottawa said it was “a necessary and serious investment in the national interest.”

Ottawa at that time estimated that the total cost of the expansion project would come in around $7.4 billion. But cost overruns have since driven the final price to some $34 billion.

On the other hand, Ernst & Young found that between 2024 and 2043, the expanded Trans Mountain system will pay $3.7 billion in wages, generate $9.2 billion in GDP, and pay $2.8 billion in government taxes.

The TMX expansion twinned the 1953 Trans Mountain pipeline from near Edmonton to Burnaby (1,150 km) and increased the system’s capacity to 890,000 barrels a day from 300,000 barrels a day.

The original pipeline will carry refined products, synthetic crude oils, and light crude oils with the capability for heavy crude oils. The new pipeline will primarily carry heavier oils but can also transport lighter oils.

And the Alberta Energy Regulator says it expects oilsands production to grow by more than 17 per cent by 2033 (increasing to four million barrels a day from 3.4 million in 2023). And it expects global oil prices will continue to rise.

The TMX expansion finally opened and began to fill on May 1 this year.

And, as our CEO Stewart Muir noted, there was a quick reduction of eight cents a litre in gasoline prices for Vancouver due to completion of the project.

From Trans Mountain’s Westridge Marine Terminal at Burnaby, around three million barrels of oil have been shipped to China or India since the TMX expansion opened.

But because the port of Vancouver can handle only smaller Aframax tankers, more than half the oil has first been shipped to California, where it is then transferred to much larger VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) tankers. That makes for a longer but potentially cheaper journey.

At Westridge, because of limited tanker size, cargoes are limited to about 600,000 barrels per Aframax vessel. The largest VLCCs can carry two million barrels of oil. Westridge now can handle 34 Aframax tankers per month.

Some 20 tankers loaded oil there in June, a couple fewer than TMX had hoped for.

“This first month is just shy of the 350,000-400,000 bpd (barrels a day) we expected ahead of the startup,” said shipping analyst Matt Smith. “We are still in the discovery phase, with kinks being ironed out . . .  but in the grand scheme of things, this has been a solid start.”

The Dubai Angel became the first Aframax tanker to load at Westridge. It took on 550,000 barrels of Alberta crude in the last week of May, and headed for the port of Zhoushan, China.

Now the Dubai Angel is headed to Burnaby for another load, and is expected to arrive there on July 8.

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Economy

Trump’s Promise Of American Abundance, Fueled By ‘Liquid Gold’

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By JAMES P. PINKERTON

 

One of the brightest nuggets of policy in Donald Trump’s July 18 acceptance speech to the Republican convention in Milwaukee was his ode to “liquid gold.” That is, oil.

As part of his inflation-fighting plan, Trump offered a gleaming solution: increase energy production, thereby decreasing energy prices. “By slashing energy costs,” Trump declared, “we will in turn reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing and all household goods.”

He continued: “We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other country by far. We are a nation that has the opportunity to make an absolute fortune with its energy.”

Indeed. According to the Institute for Energy Research (IER) technically recoverable oil resources in the U.S. total 2.136 trillion barrels. At the current price of around $80 a barrel, that’s some $171 trillion. And so, Trump concluded, “we will reduce our debt, $36 trillion.”

As former Alaska governor Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha.” In Palin’s Alaska, oil is so abundant, relative to the population, that everyone gets a check from the state. Last year, it was $1,312. For a family of four, that’s more than $5000. Our goal should be that every American gets such an energy dividend.

Moreover, the abundance of America’s carbon fuels is not limited to oil. According to IER, we have 3.391 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That’s worth $165 trillion.

To be sure, these staggering dollar totals can’t be counted directly against the national debt—or in support of some future tax cut. Yet every dollar of our energy assets would contribute to the economy, and if even 10  percent of the humongous total could be available to the public, we could, in fact, pay off the national debt.

Moreover, thanks to fracking and other enhanced recovery techniques, we keep finding more energy: Human ingenuity has upended old beliefs about energy shortages, ushering in an almost Moore’s Law-ish surge in production.

Indeed, there’s so much oil and gas (and coal) that an emerging school of thought holds that carbon fuels aren’t “fossil” at all, but rather, the product of earth’s vulcanism. The core of this earth, after all, is the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Perhaps all that heat is cooking something.

In any case, we keep finding more oil, and not just in the U.S.

So how, exactly, do we take advantage of this planetary cornucopia? As Palin said, as Trump said, and as the convention crowd chanted, “drill, baby, drill.”

Okay, but what about climate change? Most Republicans don’t worry too much about that, but if Democrats do, they should be reassured that we can capture the carbon and so take it out of the atmosphere. Trees and other green vegetation have been capturing carbon for eons; the element is, in fact, vital to their very existence. Similarly, the human body is 18 percent carbon. Yes, all of us ourselves are carbon sinks.

So we, being smart, can capture vastly more carbon — capturing it in everything from wood to cement, from plastics to nanotubes. These in turn can be landfill, construction materials — maybe even a space elevator.

We can, in fact, establish a a circular carbon economy: carbon fuels extracted, burned, and then recycled back into feedstocks. By this reckoning, carbon fuels are renewable. Such creative thinking can power all those energy-hungry data centers on which Big Tech and AI depend. So there’s the makings of a bipartisan “Grand Carbon Bargain,” uniting mostly blue-state tech with mostly red-state energy. More energy + more tech = more wealth for all.

In Milwaukee, Trump spoke of American “energy dominance,” and that’s great. But with all the energy we can produce and consume, we can speak of economic abundance — and that’s even greater.

James P. Pinkerton served in the White House domestic policy offices of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He is the author, most recently, of “The Secret of Directional Investing: Making Money Amidst the Red-Blue Rumble.”

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Energy

The Flood Of Energy Absurdities Never Slows

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By DAVID BLACKMON

 

I often write about absurdities in the energy space, the kinds of stories in which nothing seems to make sense and which result in the wasting of massive amounts of money on rank boondoggles.

Indeed, I maintain an entire Substack focused on what is an amazingly target-rich environment.

Despite enjoying such a wealth of absurd potential content, I found myself suffering from a bit of writer’s block Tuesday morning — thanks in large part to all the breaking news about debates and attempted assassinations  permeating our society in recent days. But that was before two gloriously absurd stories popped into my in-box.

The first of these absurdities comes to us from the ritzy Massachusetts island of Nantucket, where debris from one of President Joe Biden’s vaunted offshore wind monstrosities — speaking of rank boondoggles — was found littering the beaches in recent days. The Nantucket Current reports that the debris, apparently hard fiberglass material from a broken blade, originates from the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore project, whose first ten massive turbines were activated less than a month ago.

So much for that advertised 30-year life, huh?

The operators of Vineyard Wind said the debris is the result of an “offshore incident” in which a blade suffered damage. The company also characterized the debris as “non-toxic fiberglass fragments,” adding that they are “not hazardous to people or the environment.”

No word from the company on the nature of this “incident,” or on how frequently Nantucket residents can expect such litter from their 62 government-subsidized, 850-feet-tall turbines (almost the height of the Eiffel Tower) and blades to wash up on their beaches. But the fact that the first “incident” came during the first month of operations was not exactly encouraging.

Then the story got even worse for Vineyard Wind: Boston.com reported Tuesday that Nantucket officials made the decision to close the beaches to public access due to dangers from what they called “floating debris and sharp fiberglass shards” that were part of the debris. Worse still, the Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced late Tuesday the development’s operations have been “shut down until further notice” due to the safety hazards to the public.

Despite the inconvenience and potential hazards caused by Biden’s offshore wind boondoggles, we can be sure that Nantucket residents will enjoy paying their future power bills that are being inflated by the power-provision guarantees deftly negotiated by their state leaders. It is, after all, a small price to pay for such a glorious virtue signaling opportunity.

The next story comes to us from a report at LiveScience.com detailing a new study predicting that earthquakes will now be caused by the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-causing, all-powerful boogeyman we refer to as “climate change.” No, really, I swear I’m not making that up. Promise.

It is a real report, headlined, “Will we have more earthquakes because of climate change?”

Naturally, the story suggests this will be the case. What else would a good climate alarmist say? It is a requirement for researchers to blame literally every bad thing in our lives on climate change because, if you don’t, you won’t get that next government grant, now, will you?

That is the game. It has been the game for 30 years now, and many believe the net effect has been the increasing corruption of what we call “science.” The raising of outlandish claims such as this in glaring headlines or by hyperventilating weather people on our local news channels is exactly why a constantly rising percentage of the population holds the field of climate “science” in contempt.

One X user who tweeted this story out said: “I miss the days when we used to blame witches.” That is really funny. I wish I had thought of it first.

I know this frustrates all the alarmists out there, but I am just the messenger here. If you want the winds of public attitudes to ever shift in your direction, you are going to have to stop spreading ridiculous nonsense like this. All your cynical efforts to raise alarm are backfiring, and it could not happen to a more deserving bunch of people.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

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