Feature Story                                                                                                  Saturday, March 2, 2013


Railing on Pipelines

CN ramps up crude oil transport on Unit trains

Staff/Voice photos


Carole James spoke on a variety of issues at the Lynnwood Retirement Residence last week in a campaign fundraiser for Chilliwack NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic.


othing in the universe is infallible except black holes and super novas. If  you manage oil, you’re going to get your hands oily. When transporting it, there are two options: pipeline or rail.


Considering there are fewer pipeline leaks then train derailments, you're probably going to opt for the lesser of two evils which would be pipelines.


If companies like Kinder-Morgan can't move their product in pipelines to refineries in Burnaby and Ioco, then they will simply increase the amount they ship via trains.


The Voice spoke with Carole James MLA Victoria-Beacon Hill last week about her thoughts on the perils of oil transportation, and she doesn’t think that shipping oil on trains is viable in terms of the environment.


“I think people will have the same kinds of concerns around spills and transportation.We've seen train derailments here in British Columbia and seen the impact of those spills, and I'm not sure that's a good sustainable solution,” she said adding  that currently there are alternatives that the government could be investing heavily in.


“I think that you know we need to be looking at putting resources in to alternative opportunities for energy in British Columbia. We have a chance to be a leader if you look at wind power and tidal power here in BC. That doesn't mean that we're going to get rid of oil and gas. That doesn't mean in ten years you're going to see those industries shut down," she explained.


"But we're never going to make the shift unless we get started, and I think there's all kinds of opportunities for wind or tidal that we just haven't explored. And there's some good work going on in BC, we should be a leader in that area.” 


She said the province could then sell the technology on the world market.


“Wouldn't it be great to sell our entire mental technology overseas instead of sending our oil overseas? What a great opportunity that would be for us in our province.”


Currently, oil companies are shipping heavy crude via “unit trains” to the Gulf of Mexico from Fort McMurray.


There's been recent scuttlebutt about building refineries in the east bypassing the need to transport it west, and thus save the BC Coast from experiencing more tanker traffic.


In a genuine made in BC oil spill situation, how are you going to clean the world's best salmon habitat after a train loaded with heavy crude derails in the canyon? The river will have to flush itself out and push the stuff all the way out to the sea where it will pollute more habitat and taint more seafood.


A localized oil spill from a pipeline would be simpler and easier to mop up by crack company clean-up crews.


On Thursday, CN announced that they and LBC Tank Terminals are teaming up to increase heavy northern Alberta crude oil shipments through a Geismar, La., refinery.


Russ Crawford, vice-president, marketing, Americas, at LBC Tank Terminals, said: "The expansion of the Sunshine storage capacity by 160,000 barrels, with additional rail unloading spots, steaming spots and increased storage capacity, is another step in our long-term global growth program. It will help us accommodate the rise in customer demand as a response to the growth in the movement of heavy crude oil and fuel oil products. CN's service to our facility is a key part of our growth plan."


"CN provides direct, efficient single-line service from northern Alberta to the Gulf Coast, and we are pleased to be working with companies such as LBC Tank Terminals to move heavy crude oil volumes to the Gulf for our customers. Crude oil by rail is one of CN's fastest growing businesses. We moved more than 30,000 carloads of crude last year, and we believe we have the scope to double this business in 2013."


Handling oil is really dirty for dirty. It’s a conundrum that anti-pipeline activists need to fully consider. So far that’s not happening.


When Canadian oil is shipped stateside via trains to be refined, you’re actually exporting jobs along with the oil. Plus, if you want less pain at the pumps, you don’t ship oil by rail because it jacks the cost up.


Until the technology that James is talking about is researched and developed, there's still 300 billion barrels of BC jobs in the tar sands that's going to be coming out.



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