The non conformer's Canadian Weblog

September 13, 2009

Canada’s oil sands



RiskMetrics report says oilsands could be riskier investment than Gulf of Mexico The Canadian Press – Tue May 18, 12:45 AM The report comes as the world’s attention remains fixed on the aftermath of an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Crude has been spilling into the sea for nearly a month as BP PLC scrambles to contain the leak. The risks of developing the oilsands are “arguably greater” than in the Gulf, the report said. “It’s like the Gulf of Mexico spill, but playing out in slow motion. From a climate and ecological perspective, we’re really no better off,” Doug Cogan, director of climate risk management for RiskMetrics, said in a statement. 
The  Albertan  governments are  greedy, and greed was why many people moved to Alberta now as well. Follow the money. It’s the oldest rule in journalism. The truth? It’s all about money, as it always generally is. Alberta’s main income is still oil.
Reality: Alberta’s oil industry likes to say that the oil sands aren’t really so villainous – that they contribute only five per cent of Canada’s total output of greenhouse gases. But bear in mind Alberta’s planned increase in oil output would raise this to 12 per cent by 2020, according to an Environment Canada estimate. Alberta . Its politicians deem it has an inalienable right to grow still fatter. .. worth pondering as  .. Quebecers make sacrifices in the years ahead – sacrifices whose benefits Alberta’s greed will cancel out.. 
Working at Canada’s oils sands is difficult, there is nothing to do in Fort McMurray after work, you have to be careful about real bears in the woods even.. the living accommodations are not even great.. but the food at the Syncrude Plant cafeteria is great.
Alberta . Its politicians still  deem they have  an inalienable right to lie as well to attract much much needed capital, investors . The new very unpopular Premier of Alberta, ( Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is the highest-rated provincial head of government in Canada, according to an Angus-Reid poll  remains a hit with is province, with more than three in four respondents (78%) approving of Williams’ performance. That’s a far cry from the two premiers at the bottom of the online survey – Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty scored 18% and Alberta’s Ed Stelmach scored 14%. Quebec Premier Jean Charest received a positive review from only 25% of respondents, while the proportion is slightly lower for British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell (21%) and New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham (20%). Following the federal Liberal’s popularity path?)  Ed Stelmach    is not of much help cause he  was a useless Twit under the previous useless premier, drunk Ralph Klein. Calgary  itself now often likes to boast it is the 3rd largest  city in Canada.. cause they have nothing  else to boast about basically too.. and  the whole population of Alberta does not even match the poulation of the city of Montreal, Quebec in reality. Calgary and Edmonton continue to face major problems..  Calgary and Edmonton are the two  main and  largest cities, both nearly the same size too,  in the Province of Alberta, Canada.  There are no other significantly large towns in this province as well. The main economy of Alberta is cattle farming and the oil industry. The provincial government has never been able to diversify the economy. Oil which was first discovered in Alberta in 1902   did not become a significant industry in the province until 1947 Alberta’s  quickly found itself at the centre of the ensuing oil boom and grew when oil prices increased with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The population increased significantly  in the years between 1971 and today. Mainly bcause of the governmental  misleading spins that Alberta was a place to get rich fast, but this is not at all true. Few people got rich in Alberta, many went broke though.  Alberta’s economy is so closely tied to the oil industry that the  subsequent drop in oil prices were cited by industry as reasons for a collapse in the oil industry and consequently the overall Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton  economy.  This is still mainly a one horse economy, province.  Do see   also How many rich people in Calgary, Edmonton Alberta? 

McGuinty, Stelmach vie for least popular: poll The Gazette (Montreal) – Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty are Canada’s two least-loved premiers, according to a new Angus Reid poll.

Braid: Stelmach has Tories in one very deep mess Calgary Herald Tories should distil and bottle Stelmach Edmonton Journal

The rapid population growth associated with the oil boom meant a need to build new houses and roads, and related services.. these were costly undertakings which  explains why the land, homes, taxes are so high even now as well. The cost of living has increased more rapidly than the wage increase  in the last few decades too causing a lot of discomfort, personal stress as well which continues until today. The lack of local industries even presently necessitates most items to be imported from else where adding to the products costs .. Even the electrical energy costs are especially high as electricity has to be manly generated by expensive coal  firing plants. Because of the high costs of living in Alberta has had a real problem in both even attracting, and keeping competent, professional technical support personnel in all areas. Many of the new job  arrivals are not adequately still qualified in fact. This is not the land of paradise it is often falsely made out to be, not at all.. The high costs of living too explains also why the divorce rate, drug abuse, and domestic  violence, road rage is so high too. It will be that way for a few decades next too.   
Now the Oil sands are often referred to as unconventional oil or crude bitumen. Oil sands reserves have  only become important  as higher oil prices and   technology enable them to be more profitably extracted and upgraded to usable products. Basically at the ALBERTA, Fort McMurray oil sand PLANTS, sand containing oil is extracted from the ground using excavators and conveyed to a gravel  crushing station using the large dump trucks, where the sand is next transported by conveyors belts to be processed at the local  plant. The processing plant starts up by merely adding high temp steam to the gravel mix and the hot steam causes most of the  the oil to separate from the mixture, the main residue oil is scooped off, and the latter left over residue mix of oil and CONDENSED STEAM, water is pumped to an outdoor  storage reservoir.. and it is these LARGE storage reservoirs that are a major danger of  the local ground water pollution now as well. The seperated oil itself now is futher refined at the local partial refining plant too causing pollution  in the process.
My serious concerns, question still is  is whether the Alberta oil sands industry can really assure us that the surrounding rivers and ground waters now will not be polluted permanently in their greed, exploitation of the oil  sands. Never mind what the spin doctors say now what about the reality?  Do not expect anything really to be done here about potential or actual pollutions, for the greedy federal and provincial governments in Canada are known to turn a blind eye to big business wrong doings when the ends seem to justify the means, the ends means big business being able to hire citizens who who are forced to  pay taxes while big business tends to get more tax breaks as well or pays very little taxes..
The whole oil extraction form the Alberta oil sands  comes at quite an extraordinary environmental price. Firstly extracting the oil from the sand requires much more energy than exploiting the traditional oil wells and secondly do cause   human health effects, changes to the hydrological cycle, climate change, and the ill effects of pollution. Plus include all the water used by such companies to extract the oil, which is becoming a more contentious issue in Alberta by the day as the province’s water supply continues to decline suggest that the costs of exploiting oil sands may far outweigh any benefits to society that they may provide. Local Albertan monetary greed seems to be unlimited..
 Here’s a few facts about the Alberta Oil Sands:

– Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.

– At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in ends up in tailing ponds so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep ducks from landing in them.

– Processing the oil sands uses enough natural gas in a day to heat 3 million homes in Canada.

– The toxic tailing ponds are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. The ponds span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.

– Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil.

– The oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Canada. By 2020 the oil sands will release twice the amount produced currently by all the cars and trucks in Canada 

see TarSands_TheReport final.pdf 963.2 KB

Alberta’s oilsands produce more greenhouse gas emissions than some European countries right now and will produce more than all of the world’s volcanoes in just 11 years if the pace of development continues, a new report says.  People will post 1001 excuses justifying this disaster. until it is too late to do anything about it.. Remember Chernobyl

Economics alone   SHOULD NOT now  control the direct oil sand extraction  process, engineering as well and also now not all firms are equally environmentally conscious, concerned so they all do now need to be better managed here, something that has falsely not been adequately done for sure so far.. and yes neither by the provincial or the federal governments HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB HERE
Do see



Toxic chemical levels higher in water downstream of Alberta oilsands plants Vancouver Sun –  This photo shows how at least one company is bulldozing right to the Athabasca River’s edge. EDMONTON – Levels of toxic chemicals in the Athabasca watershed are up to 50 times higher downstream of oilsands development, a new University of Alberta study …The research, spearheaded by renowned aquatics ecologist David Schindler, also estimates that Suncor and Syncrude deposit the equivalent of an oil spill’s worth of bitumen into the surrounding environment each year. The chemicals are dispersed through two main modes: on airborne particles from plant stacks and dusty mine sites; and through run-off from developed sites. The full paper will be available at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science website at

Pollution levels increase due to oilsands operations: study

Oilsands pollution far exceeds official estimates: independent study An independent study suggests that pollution from Alberta’s oilsands is nearly five times greater than official estimates.  The study says toxic emissions from the controversial industry are the equivalent of a major oil spill repeated every year. Government and industry officials have said contamination in the area’s soil and rivers occurs naturally, but the report links it firmly to oilsands mining.  A study of water quality at 60 sites along the Athabasca River and its tributaries makes it clear the oilsands have added cancer-causing toxins to the environment, a scientist at the University of Alberta says. The highest levels of polycyclic aromatic compounds [PACs], which are known to contain carcinogens, were found within 50 kilometres of two major oilsands upgraders, David Schindler said Monday. On a scale of 1 – 10, as a reputable scientist Dr. Schindler is an 11. If he says there is a problem with tar sands operations poisoning the Athabasca River and other water bodies …. you can be sure that the problem is there and the cause for concern is real. Do you think any of Syncrudes or Suncors top executives are living along the Athabasca River? Not likely.
Alberta drug and alcohol deaths have doubled in the past decade  Edmonton Sun  CALGARY — The number of recorded drug and alcohol deaths in Alberta has more than doubled in the past decade, says the province’s chief medical examiner. From 1998 to 2008, Alberta’s population has grown by only 13% while the annual number of non-suicide deaths attributable to intoxicants has leaped to 437 from 210. Kim Borden, research officer with the chief medical examiner’s office, was at a loss to explain why the number would so far exceed the province’s population increase. “But I do know drugs and drug-related deaths are a huge problem — it’s right up there with car crash fatalities,” she said. “It’s growing every year.” , the figures for deaths caused by drugs are likely much higher because the number of autopsies are so limited.
So vehicular  speeding is not the major cause of accidents, and deaths  but drugsand  impaired driving and yet the Alberta police like to go after speeders, over the drunk drivers still and why was that?
BP itself, cleartly still  hiding behind a barricade of PR-speak, has apparently under reported the extent of the oil disaster and it has been very slow and ineffectual in dealing with it while the unacceptable tragedy continues, even raising frightening questions. “What about the lives of those millions of people, now and for years to come, who depend on the fishery and tourism industries? What about the dying and doomed wildlife? What about the natural beauties of the vast region?” and who really cares?
BP had a “vested financial interest” in downplaying the size of the leak. “They will ultimately pay a fine based on those rates,” Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who heads the House Energy and Environment subcommittee, agreed that the company “had a stake in low-balling the number right from the very beginning.” “I think that they were either lying or they were incompetent,” Noting that BP has consistently provided information that proved to be wrong, Markey said he had “no confidence whatsoever in BP.” “I think they do not know what they are doing,” Markey said, adding: “I don’t think that people should really believe what BP is saying in terms of the likelihood of anything that they’re doing is going to turn out as they’re predicting.” BP “has been making it up as they along the whole way.” They do not know for sure what the result is going to be of anything which they are doing,” Markey said.
“What a surprise! Isn’t it about time we just simply stop drilling for oil in the ocean? This is just ridiculous…. all of the oil money and knowledge can’t plug a leak…  It’s the same story in the oilsands, folks…. none of these oil companies up here are cleaning up their mess. Reality is that we need to end our reliance on oil and gas, and work harder at fining clean sources of energy.  It didn’t work!…. time to tighten the screws on BP and the entire oil industry “
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to halt federal government plans to explore for oil and natural gas in the untouched waters of the Arctic Speaks volumes about his own values here.
The Alberta Stelmach government is so intent on hiding the environmental devastation in the oilsands that they went so far as to call two esteemed researchers liars.”

Latest news..

Dec 2010 OTTAWA – signs of federal-provincial friction Ottawa and Alberta  in the better environmental monitoring of oilsands, federal Environment Minister John Baird said he would be putting Environment Canada in charge of setting up a new water-quality monitoring system. The federal government has clear jurisdiction to take the lead in monitoring because it has responsibility for fisheries, cross- boundary water, national parks and aboriginal people. But in Edmonton, Premier Ed Stelmach opposes the  lead. His provincial environment minister launched a separate revamping of the monitoring system just this week. “Those resources are owned by Albertans.”  Stelmach said he was ready to co-operate  with the federal government — but only to a point. An advisory panel of scientists — convened in September by former federal environment minister Jim Prentice — warned that the public has no clear idea what the impact of the oilsands has been, because data has not been collected and sorted in an organized way. Monitoring is done by a “fragmented” array of authorities and hgroups, with no established baselines for comparisons and no overarching, integrated view of the entire ecosystem, panel chairwoman Elizabeth Dowdeswell told a news conference. “There is clearly a lack of leadership and co-ordination,” said Dowdeswell, former head of the United Nations environment program. “Until these significant shortcomings are addressed, there will continue to be debate about the data. There will continue to be uncertainty and public distrust, both of industry’s environmental performance and governments’ oversight.” The report pointed out that key pieces of data were handed over to the Alberta environment ministry once a year in hard copy only. The federal Liberal environment critic Gerard Kennedy said. “It’s as damning as science gets. Canadians have been unprotected all these years” by lack of standards. The panel recommended a new system be set up to establish baselines, collect all the relevant data, and refer it to a group of renowned scientists for review. Despite the prospect of extra charges, the business community did not immediately attack the recommendations. Rather, like the panel itself, the oil and gas industry association urged Ottawa and Alberta to quit squabbling over jurisdiction and get on with the job. Environmentalists, too, urged the governments to co-operate.

and they did it again
ST. ALBERT, Alta. – Syncrude Canada has been found guilty under wildlife laws of causing the death of 1,600 ducks in a tailings pond at it oilsands mine in northern Alberta.
Alberta — About 125 birds were euthanized after landing on a Syncrude oilsands tailings pond Mc Murray, Alberta  just three days after the energy giant received the highest environmental fine in Alberta history. About 125 of the 200 birds were euthanized after coming in contact with the bitumen, the company said in the statement. Provincial environment officials are investigating. Premier Ed Stelmach said he’s angry about what happened, but noted an investigation is ongoing. “This is sad and disappointing in light of the conclusion of the court proceedings and the judge’s decision last week,” Stelmach told the legislature. “The regulations are there, and obviously we not only enforce them but we took Syncrude to court with the federal government.” Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner called the incident “discouraging in the extreme.” “I cannot express how disappointed and frustrated I am that this incident occurred,” Renner told reporters at the legislature. “Albertans deserve answers to why this happened again and we will do everything we can to get those answers as quickly as we can.”

Syncrude was sentenced on Friday for failing to take reasonable action to prevent the deaths of more than 1,600 ducks at a toxic tailings pond more than two years ago. The company was fined a $3 million — a penalty some environmental advocates contended was too low.The 2008 tailings pond duck deaths garnered international headlines and served as a rallying call for environmental groups and politicians who are pushing the Alberta government to phase-out toxic waste water ponds. See

Ducks today and people next.. the cost of the oil sands just became horrendous..




 Feds Under Stephen Harper’s conservatives had spent thousands on golf balls, candy, toys  OTTAWA – They spent thousands of dollars last year on golf balls, candy, flowers, tickets to gala events and coupons for Tim Hortons. And you paid for it. Documents tabled in the House of Commons this week reveal that while Canadians were tightening their belt and bracing for the recession, many civil servants were continuing to spend thousands of dollars of taxpayers money on frills and small perks of the job. Moreover, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  


Former Quebec lieutenant-governor Lise Thibault will face six criminal charges in connection with her expense accounts. Not surprised at all… they should audit every single expense claim by people in such positions. Most civil and public servants do it but some do it on a larger scale. TYPICAL!! Politicians all think they have a right to the taxpayers money!!! Criminals is what they are.!!! Throw the book at this BI@#$!!! and put her in jail.The law should provide for double criminal penalties for anyone in elected office and quadruple criminal penalties for anyone in appointed office. To that, of course, seizure of assets to compensate not only the malfeasance, but offset the cost of prosecution and incarceration.

Heads roll as scandal hits Montreal city hall Toronto Star  MONTREAL–With a municipal election looming, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay has cancelled the biggest contract awarded in the city’s history after a scathing auditor general’s report and months of damaging questions about the ethical conduct of city

Scandal in Montreal mayor’s election bid Globe and Mail

The Gazette (Montreal) – CTV Montreal – Canada NewsWire (press release) – CJAD
all 16 news articles »

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