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October 28, 2017 5:18 am

Do You Have A Choice In How Crude Oil Will Move

Monday, March 16, 2015 @ 3:45 AM

I very rarely respond to a comment written by an individual , unless it smacks of trying to discredit 250news. I also think I have a right to defend my writing.

On March 13th-Sine Nomine  wrote a comment critical of both areas I have mentioned. I have included the piece for your reading.

This is a pretty comical piece. Maybe you should stick to gossip and speculation about local politics, Ben. Even if it were true, that “WE” had to choose between rail and a pipeline, it’s not even a question of which common sense and basic mathematics would choose. Rail would be unquestionably the better choice for this province, because for starters the limited capacity would mean that much less would move, the total environmental impact of a spill would be much mitigated, it would create more jobs and investment and would have much less impact when the winds change. However, since there isn’t anywhere near the capacity with rail that is wanted, it’s a total red herring. The pipeline will still not ever be built though. It will be tied up in the courts until it’s an anachronism.

I am always troubled by the fact that some people feel they can write what they want without fear of reprisal , while hiding behind a veil of secrecy, knowing full well at the time that if they were writing these comments under their own name they would be subject to being exposed as to who they are and the criticism that goes with that. They fear being judged by the entire readership and hence the reason to hide behind the veil.

But to the topic at hand . I wrote the piece because the issue of whether crude oil will move by rail or pipeline is very much an issue that we will face in this province in the near future. Crude oil can move by rail without being subjected to the rigors that the pipelines face, and we are seeing that increasing daily.

Sine Nomine writes that it’s not even a question of which common sense and basic mathematics would choose. That is the question that I asked.

I am not prepared to trip all over myself to suggest that oil should move by rail tanker . You might want to start by asking the survivors of Lac Megantic , the 47 people who died in the blast can’t speak,  what would they choose. You might also want to ask the people living near the Mattagami River,in Northern Ontario,  where there have been two CN derailments in less than one month. 38 cars of a 94 car train carrying crude oil on fire, and 35 to 40 cars less than three weeks earlier, again a train carrying crude oil. In the latest case the tanker cars were the newer model version, but they still caught fire, and they dumped 1 million litres of crude into the Mattagami River.

The move is afoot to move crude oil from the tar sands to the west coast of either Kitimat or Prince Rupert. The Enbridge pipeline is designed to carry about 500,000 barrels a day through the line. A 120 car train carries about 75,000 barrels. Seven trains a day and  , you have the same capacity as Enbridge.

Now to that matter of common sense. Would you sooner have seven trains a day running through the center of, for example Prince George, Vanderhoof, Smithers, Terrace and McBride just to name a few?

There are about 100 level crossings, between Edmonton and Prince Rupert . That means  7 trains a day x  100 crossings, = 700  per day,  x  30 days = 21,000 crossings  every month, or 252,000 a year . No problem there I guess  according to Sine Nomine, common sense would prevail.

Now let’s address the matter of the trains moving along the rivers and lakes of BC. The rail lines were built along the river banks  for ease of building. The rail lines were built to go through towns and cities  in order to service those centers. Look no further than the oil tanker fire in Prince George along the banks of the Fraser,  or the fire and explosion on October 19th-2013 in Gainford , Alberta from a crude oil tanker train that forced the evacuation of the town and its 100 residents.

Now for the matter of if the Railways intend to move crude by rail. There are orders in North America in 2015  for 48,000 tank cars, 30,000 of them  for the transport of crude . Now if you have seven trains , with 120 cars , 840 cars to move the crude from the tar sands to the coast becomes very small. Why in the world would you order 30,000 cars if you weren’t going to use them?

The issue was and still is, would you prefer to have the crude oil move by rail or by pipeline, because when you look at the risks involved in the movement by rail suddenly a pipeline attracts your attention.

Problem in all of this,  CN does not need to go through the same rigors as the pipeline in order to reach their goal, They only need to have a new type of car in place by 2017, and will that prevent the inherent problems?  You need to be the judge .

I’m Meisner and that’s one man’s’ opinion.


Unfortunately Ben people jump on the bandwagon and rarely think things through most people just hear enough to get themselves in trouble without thinking things through which is a fairly common practice with all sides in any dispute and rarely do people get the full facts because often people don’t want to hear them because often invalidates their argument or view.

Ben, a very well timed piece. People still have a choice in deciding if oil will transit our area on the way to the west coast for export. If you vote for Harper, the oil will flow west(either by rail or pipeline) by hook or by crook. The best result for Canada would be for the oil to flow east, and for that to happen people have to vote NDP or Liberal.

I am a complete loss as to how voting anything but “Harper” guarantees a the federal government will force privately held companies working within Alberta not to ship their product wherever the heck they like over the existing transportation network.
It is this dumbing down of any exchanging of ideas that is so encouraged on the left. I wouldn’t place so much faith in a one-time high-school drama teach with a familiar last name.

i don’t want more oil or bitumen to go through our province at all. why are there only two choices? you point out death and destruction by rail so it would be fare for me to point out death and destruction due to oil spills in the ocean!!Exxon Valdes or the Gulf of Mexico why don’t we ask the people effected if its worth it. and we can also focus on the oil spills from Enbridge pipelines Kalamazoo Michigan, Romeoville Illinos, Fort McMurray in 2007 there were 65 reportable spills totaling 13,777 barrels. all this info is easy to get so why is it ignored? so when you say by rail or pipe I would say neither. And people who moan about jobs and the economy I wonder how many real jobs are we going to get shipping this stuff to China? beyond this i worry about the environmental costs of the oil sands to the air we breath the water we drink and the land we live on. and if this makes me an eco-terrorist so be it. we live in a large country with an educated population so why does our economy have to be based on non-renewable resource extraction?

Privately held companies are subject to government regulations so they can’t just do whatever they want to do. Unless that has already been changed in the last 8 years as well!

Oil, being a non-renewable resource, will play a declining role in the next couple of decades. Rail transport on the other hand will still be around after energy sources other than oil are being used for our daily requirements. Think solar, wind, wave, tidal and geothermal power. The potential billions invested in pipelines can be invested in rail infrastructure which is of the latest heavy duty rail and rail bed technology, including the elimination of level crossings via overpasses and underpasses.

I agree with the Herbster comment above. Harper will not back down for political reasons. We must wait for the outcome of the next election so that all the alternatives and long range implications may finally be included in the discussion and final decision.

My choice would be the pipeline route. Not excited about that either but if its in our best interest to find a way to do it, this seems to be safer than rail by far.

Why would we accept either of the two. Is it a problem of transportation and how about exporting all this pollution. Does climate change come in into consideration or is all just about a corporation making big bucks and the hell with our environment.

Retired 02. Look out your window at the number of cars on the Freeway everyday and you have your answer. The whole world usages oil and gas, including the shipping, and airline industry. This will increase as China, and India go more and more to driving cars.

To suggest that we, or the world can get by without this product is foolish. There is no answer in the short term, we are slaves to the automobile and gas/diesel.

There is more to this equation than just transportation across the province.

Let’s not forget the tankers through Douglas Channel, and the tank farm with 11 550,000 bbl tanks situated on Douglas Channel, in an earthquake zone. Rail or pipeline makes no difference once it gets to port.

This gorilla needs top be tamed. If we continue to allow all the pollution that the tar sands are dumping into our environment out grand kids will be living on the Sahara Desert. The Chinese have more resources then we do and its time they started to look at alternate sources for their power.

Jimmy Hughes

Both Trudeau and Mulcair have come out against more tanker traffic off BC’s coast. Unless you think you could fly the stuff out of Rupert, the choice is pretty simple. Vote Harper if you want to see oil to our coast, otherwise vote Liberal or NDP.

my2bits– I think you have made a good point. There are many risks to worry about after the oil gets to port.

Crude oil shipments by rail in BC increased to 175000 barrels per day from just under 24000 BPD in 2012. Crude oil shipments by rail across Canada and the USA have had huge increases.

The debate on how crude will move has already been settled, and it looks like it will be a mix between pipelines and rail. Railways are building loading yards all over the Western Provinces and the Western USA for loading crude oil.

So will the Railways ship crude to Prince Rupert, Kitimat, or will they ship that crude to Vancouver, or some US Port, or will it go East. Who knows?? In any event if the decision is made to allow ships to load this product in Prince Rupert, Kitimat, then the process will begin with rail shipments, and over time the product will be shipped by pipeline.

One way or the other this oil will move. Canada has a huge investment in the oil industry, and thousands of jobs depend on this industry.

Seems the point is – they can already legally move crude via rail. It would take a change in the law to stop them, and with it, compensation to the affected companies. If the crude moves by rail, it will still go on tankers, with all the same problems whether it gets on those tankers by rail, or pipeline.

So, the awkward position we’re in, is to submit to the pipeline which is purported to be the safer way to move this stuff, or deal with the consequences of rail.

I will say one thing about rail though, is it probably would leave more jobs in B.C. Once that pipeline is built, the manpower to maintain it is minimal, vs keeping trains running. But, pipelines generally won’t be running right through the center of towns, which means fewer people’s lives will be at risk.

It’s almost like you’re at the mercy of a psychopath whose giving you the choice of saving your wife or your kid, but he’s going to kill one of them, and you have to figure out which choice you can live with. You can say neither, but he’ll just kill both then.

It makes a difference to Canada on where this oil will be shipped. It can be shipped unrefined to China or Texas via Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain or Keystone. Or it can be shipped to waiting refineries in Ontario, Quebec or New Brunswick, providing value added jobs to Canadians, and ending our need for unethical oil imports from the Middle East. Harper has made it abundantly clear that he is in favour of Northern Gateway and Keystone, and the continuing hollowing out of Canada.

The next election will be important in deciding Canada’s future.

Well first off we keep hearing all these oil companies spewing about the environment. If they truly wanted to do what’s best for the environment then they would refine the crude on site. Then it would reduce what they shipped big time no matter how they decide to ship it. Right now if they go by pipeline they need to,send a extremely hot condensate along the pipeline to keep the crude liquid enough to pump.. So there are two possible leaks to worry about..the actual crude, then this condensate. Which will be loaded with chemicals. with rail cars CN has a horrible track record for derailment.. With them it’s not if there are spills..it’s when, how big and how many.

It’s only a win for,the oil companies and the government.. We just get to,stand by, pay high prices for gas and wait for,the environmental catastrophe. Just look at what happened to the tailing pond last summer.. Nothing.. They are using it already.. That’s what our provincial gov thinks of the environment, how will they handle a crude spill..?

@ Ben . Thanks for letting us post annonymously . Have you read the book ” blacklist ” ? If you are interested , there is an Interveiw and trailer for the book @ vice.com .

The book title is blacklisted , not blacklist .

Re: rail lines going through cities. Could we not build new sections of track as a dangerous goods bypass around urban areas? Why assume we have to use all of the existing track?

NMG, the rail lines through our fine city are already designated dangerous goods routes. You do not want to know what goes through this city by rail, or sits for days in our city. There is know way they will pay to run new tracks for this when they already have ones to use.

How about we start getting top dollar for are resources, vs giving them away. No party has the political will to demand it. We are near the bottom of the heap regarding income/unit on most Canadian resources. Maybe then the extraction rush would be easier to stomach. Same as it ever was.

I’m a CN shareholder. I vote oil by rail

Oh I know that P Val. What I was getting at was that just because they are labelled as dangerous goods routes, doesn’t mean they really meet that purpose.

Where there is a will, there is a way . . .

Am I missing something?
The railway runs through reserve land and not just territorial lands!
Through First Nations Villages in Fraser Lake, Endako, Burns Lake and on and on.
The legal battles are already on. If we have trouble moving oil through the bush, then how are we going to move oil through my farm and First Nations Villages
Bill C51

You would think that after the explotions in Lac Magantic that bitumen be deemed explosive rather than FLAMABLE liquid . The two are treated dramatically different . Or has that been watered down as well .

frankgeorgeson – I hear what you’re saying, but it’s a much more difficult situation. The pipeline – first nations are on pretty good ground in resisting anything built on their land. Rail lines, the deals have already been done. Stand in front of a train, you go to jail. And even if they let you stand in front of the train, consider that if the train carrying oil is blocked, so is every train behind it including the one’s carrying lumber, grain, minerals, etc. Highly unlikely the Federal government will tolerate a protest that shuts down the whole economy. And it won’t take long before public sentiment turns when people lose their jobs because products can’t get to/from market.

Ski 51

I am interested in your earlier analogy that choosing between rail and pipeline was like a psychopath holding your wife and child hostage. Given that oil to the coast will only happen under Harper, why not just call a spade a spade? Harper is a psychopath?

Instead of asking ski . Ask google that question . I think you’ll be surprised .

I am not sure why people think they have a choice between rail and pipelines.

Here is your choice: will they build a pipeline

No: okay, they will use rail then
Yes: they will use the pipeline and some rail

You know herbster, Canada has some pretty strict libel laws so I’ll pass on answering that question. This is really more like extortion – we can ship by rail, but…., if you let us build a pipeline – well….? Slinky is right.

Ski51, natives have never gone to jail for road or rail,blocking, they even murdered a cop at one road block and nothing was done. Non natives have seen jail time for road blocks though.. What a shock..

Train shipments are supposed to be set up to keep unfriendly cargo away from others, wouldn’t want caustic right next to acid etc so if (when) there is a derail it will be easier to handle,and contain..supposedly …

No, we have no choice in how the oil will be moved, to answer Bens question. Although I’m pretty sure Gateway will never be built. Serves them right for not settling treaties years ago.

Personally, they should be building refineries in Alberta and moving finished, value added, products. Then they could figure out how to ship those.

Amd talkknmg about reading a book try “This changes Everything.” by Nomi Kline.
You are all concerned about moving oil across Canada but forget that if our climate change and temperatures rise by 2c you will have another problem. Summer’s are already getting warmer and the hurricane’s that have been going across the southern USA are just a warning.

And there are other alternatives then using oil for our gold. Wake up people.

Ignorance is “Bliss”

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