CPE has reached a stage where it is obvious that we need to make a positive statement about solving the problem of increasing the export of oil along BC’s coast. Often we hear: “We understand what CPE is against, but not what you are for.”
In response the following is CPE’s statement with regard to export of oil and products and how and where is the safest way to ship.
We support the development and export of our natural resources as a significant part of our Canadian economy, providing that the development and export of these commodities is done in a manner that minimizes the risk or damage to our environment.
In the case of exporting Tar Sands product, we believe:
- That the product (bitumen) needs to be upgraded and have the petroleum coke removed, so the remaining product, light crude oil can be shipped. If a spill were then to occur, from a pipeline or tanker there is a greater chance of limited cleanup whereas with dilbit very little if any will be cleaned up (out of site out of mind).
- We should be using existing pipeline corridors if possible, to minimize the impact on the pristine environment.
- We should choose a port from which to export that minimizes the risk to the marine environment.
- Northern export port – our view is that the safest northern port is the one that has the least exposure of tankers in confined areas. Kitimat is not acceptable as it is 160 nautical miles from the open ocean, a journey that will expose the tankers to mishaps for at least 16 hours. Prince Rupert offers access to the open ocean of two hours and Port Simpson, less than one hour. Rupert and Port Simpson involve extending the pipeline from Terrace to Prince Rupert (180 and 210 km respectively) through difficult slide and earthquake prone territory at a high cost – probably more than two billion dollars. We believe this cost is the main reason why Enbridge chose to go to Kitimat. Alternate harbours must be thoroughly investigated and their associated navigational risks evaluated.
- Southern export route – the presently proposed Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) involves a second pipeline buried in the existing right-of-way with route modifications in the Fraser Valley, branching at Sardis to Anacortes, with the main branch going to Trans Mountain’s terminal in Burnaby, located in eastern Burrard Inlet. This proposal would multiply the marine traffic by a factor of about seven: going from one tanker per week, to one tanker per day. The risks of this route are high due to the need to transit the Vancouver harbour, passing under the Second Narrows highway and railway bridges. Many collisions have historically occurred between ships and the bridges, particularly at the railway bridge. One of the major concerns is that even with four escort tugs, vessels in transit will have difficulty in maneouvering should there be a rudder failure. The cost of compensation should there be a major spill would be very high because of its impact on other users of the port, and the residents of Burrard Inlet.
- CPE believes that other alternative routes must be thoroughly studied, including considering alternative terminal location at Roberts Bank , and American alternatives like the port of Anacortes in Washington State.
- If the expansion of TMX goes ahead, it should be considered that the new pipeline should be large enough to handle the existing capacity as well as the proposed capacity, and when complete – the old pipeline should be removed as it is our opinion the old pipeline has reached its fatigue lifetime.
- CPE agrees that the rate of expansion of export of oil and other commodities like natural gas must force Canada to take a serious look at responsible resource development planning. In particular, this must apply to resource towns like Fort McMurray, and include minimizing the overall impact of pipeline corridors.
- It makes sense that development of new corridors in northern BC should result in much safer pipeline transit if one major corridor could handle the required number of pipelines to meet the export capacity. This would result in much less degradation to the landscape and would reduce environmental impact.