National energy strategy the right move
Alberta Premier Allison Redford is right to push for a national energy strategy that would include new pipelines to move oil and gas from BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to markets south, east, and west. Canada and the world needs the next most affordable oil and gas.
The existing 13,500 kilometers of Enbridge pipelines are part of a vast network of four million kilometres of oil and gas pipelines in the USA and 700,000 kilometres in Canada. The Enbridge pipeline carries two million barrels of oil per day to Eastern Canada and the USA.
It would take almost one million rail tank cars per year to carry that oil. Nothing is without some risk, but data for the past 10 years shows that the current pipeline spill rate for Enbridge is one teaspoon per 45 gallon barrel, and that the amount of material that would be spilled by rail tankers would be twice the amount spilled by pipelines.
Pipelines are more energy efficient than rail transportation because those one million empty tank cars would have to be returned for reuse. Pipelines are less disruptive to wildlife migration than rail or road right-of- ways. But BC Premier Christy Clarke is also right to insist on world-leading pipeline spill prevention measures for the environmentally sensitive areas of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. If that means a higher per barrel pipeline transit fee, then so be it.
Hugh Holland P.Eng. (Retired)