Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project: ‘Approved’

Joint Review Panel recommends approving the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, Dec 19, 2013

CALGARY ― The Joint Review Panel (the Panel) for the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project today recommended that the federal government approve the project, subject to 209 required conditions.

Based on a scientific and precautionary approach to this complex review, the Panel found that the project, if built and operated in compliance with the conditions set out in its report, would be in the public interest.

The Panel also recommended that the Governor in Council determine that the construction and routine operation of the project would cause no significant adverse environmental effects, with the exception of cumulative effects for certain populations of woodland caribou and grizzly bear.

In these two cases, the Panel found that cumulative effects as a result of this project and other projects, activities or actions are likely to be at the low end of the range of possible significance. The Panel recommended that these effects be found to be justified in the circumstances.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project
Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project

The Panel concluded that the environmental burdens associated with project construction and routine operation can generally be effectively mitigated and that continued monitoring, scientific research and adaptive management could further reduce adverse effects.

The Panel stated that “the environmental, societal and economic burdens of a large oil spill, while unlikely and not permanent, would be significant.” The Panel found that Northern Gateway had taken steps to minimize the likelihood of a large spill through its precautionary design approach and its commitments to use innovative and redundant safety systems.  The Panel also found that, after mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects resulting from project malfunctions or accidents is very low.

The Panel found that “opening Pacific Basin markets is important to the Canadian economy and society.”  The Panel also found that “the project would bring significant local, regional, and national economic and social benefits.”

After weighing all of the oral and written evidence, the Panel found that Canada and Canadians would be better off with the Enbridge Northern Gateway project than without it.

The Panel’s conditions, which would be enforced by the National Energy Board, include requirements for Enbridge Northern Gateway to:

  • Develop a Marine Mammal Protection Plan;
  • Implement the TERMPOL Review Committee Recommendations;
  • Prepare a Caribou Habitat Restoration Plan;
  • Develop a Training and Education Monitoring Plan;
  • Prepare an Enhanced Marine Spill Trajectory and Fate Modelling;
  • Develop a Research Program on the Behaviour and Cleanup of Heavy Oils;
  • Conduct Pre-operations Emergency Response Exercises and Develop an Emergency Preparedness and Response Exercise and Training Program.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is a proposal to build and operate two pipelines and a marine terminal. The pipelines would run 1,178 kilometres from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, where the marine terminal would be built.

One 914 mm (36 inch) outside diameter line would carry an average of 83,400 cubic metres (525,000 barrels) per day of oil west to Kitimat. The other line, a 508 mm (20 inch) outside diameter pipeline, would carry an average of 30,700 cubic metres (193,000 barrels) of condensate per day east to Bruderheim. Condensate can be used to thin bitumen for pipeline transport. The Kitimat Marine Terminal would have two tanker berths, three condensate tanks and 16 oil storage tanks. Costs for the project are estimated at $7.9 billion.

The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel assessed the environmental effects of the proposed project and reviewed the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and the National Energy Board Act.

The report, this news release, a backgrounder on the hearing process and a list of frequently asked questions can be found on the Panel’s website at: www.gatewaypanel.review.gc.ca

The Next Trillion-dollar Business

by John Brian Shannon

High energy costs to pump crude oil from the bottom two-thirds of an oil reservoir is one of two main reasons that some of the largest oil wells have been capped and abandoned. Therefore, until recently much of the global proven reserves have lain dormant in so-called ‘ageing’ or ‘spent’ oilfields.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) can allow oil companies to resume extraction of crude oil at previously abandoned facilities.

This kind of CCS is a fine way to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions by storing the CO2 deep underground forever — and helping to help bring crude oil to the surface.

https://i0.wp.com/www.ico2n.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ICO2N-Enhanced-Oil-Recovery-Carbon-Capture-and-Storage.jpg
ICO2N Enhanced Oil Recovery – Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage

Recently, and where vast quantities of CO2 are available locally from industry, millions of tons of CO2 gas have already been pumped deep into the underground crude, increasing the volume and raising the overall pressure of the oil reservoir, thereby ‘forcing’ more crude oil to the surface. This is starting to become a common practice in Canada, the U.S.A., and in Saudi Arabia.

More often than not, this process has made economic sense based on it’s own economic merit, but government subsidies have also been employed on and off over the years — on an experimental and case-by-case basis.

So, why isn’t this being done everywhere if it is such a great idea? It turns out that much of the industry-produced CO2 that is available for CCS use is already being used for that purpose. But two factors have (so far) limited more CCS injection for oilfield rejuvenation:

  1. The remote locations of some oilfields can limit the use of industrial CO2 emissions for use, as pipelines to deliver the gasses to capped wells are expensive.
  2. The high energy costs of pumping supercritical (liquified) greenhouse gasses deep underground at high pressure — and pumping the crude oil up the pipe and out through the wellhead

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And… Voila! Just like that, high energy costs are no longer a factor in that equation — thanks to the dramatic fall in solar panel prices over the past 26 months! What?

It’s true! Up ‘till now, the high cost of all kinds of energy have prevented many CCS projects from going forward, as Carbon Capture and Storage requires huge amounts of energy. But solar costs have now dropped so dramatically that free energy from the Sun is being harnessed to inject liquified CO2 deep underground to rejuvenate massive oilfields — while at the same time, sequestering millions of tons of harmful greenhouse gasses.

Semprius Inc. 33.9% efficiency solar panel arrays mounted on Solar Tracker

It’s a win-win for the environment. Some might argue that point. But each year, our civilization is consuming more crude oil producing billions more tons of greenhouse gasses.

“The burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tonnes (21.3 gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, but it is estimated that natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount, so there is a net increase of 10.65 billion tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year…” — Wikipedia Fossil Fuel

We can continue to allow those gasses to escape unimpeded into the atmosphere, further warming the planet — or we can inject billions of tons of these gasses underground where they will stay for millennia.

The millions of tons of CO2 per year already being injected underground (now) and billions of tons of CO2 per year (in the near future) can only be seen as positive. If only all of the industry-produced CO2 could be so treated! Suddenly, that noble goal seems a lot closer to becoming a reality.

Who could have predicted that the oil industry and the solar industry would become such strong and complementary partners in this great and lofty enterprise?

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JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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