To the Editor:
Shipping Oil – by Rail or Pipeline
Are environmental activists doing more harm than good in delaying pipeline projects? Products have always found a way to market one way or another.
Be careful what you wish for as there is a real factor called “unintended consequences” that emerges every time man tries to tinker with tried and tested methods.
Most people are completely unaware of pipelines running underground because it is a less intrusive method which does not interfere with our daily surface activity. That is why the concept of transporting liquid products in underground (u/g) pipes was viable, economical and went back to the Romans.
In our modern civilized world, we bring water to our buildings in u/g water main pipes buried deep enough for frost protection. We flush our toilets and u/g pipes transport it to sewage treatment. Storm water from our roofs go into u/g pipes then to natural watercourses. Natural gas and electric u/g etc. all mostly un-noticed.
By contrast, surface transportation of product by rail noticeably affects our lives daily. Because of the enviro activists protesting all new pipelines, shipping oil by rail has become a real and growing alternative. The cost difference is approximately three dollars more per barrel which is a small obstacle with oil selling at around $85.
Canadian tanker cars carry approx. 650 barrels each (U.S. = 714 barrels) with 100 car trains used to deliver 65,000+ barrels per day to refiners and other rapid growth terminals all over North America. Rail operators have reported a 30 per cent increase in oil by rail in the last year, only curtailed by the shortage of tanker cars.
Trains go over all the same streams and rivers that pipelines go under/over and there is even a greater risk of spill by rail. (ie. CN’s 2005 Cheakamus river caustic soda spill near Squamish)
So now the agitated anti-oil activists are trying to stop “oil by rail” but it’s too late and they couldn’t anyway because of the over 100 year established infrastructure and practice of shipping liquid chemical materials by rail tanker cars.
CN is one of the biggest oil by rail shippers in North America and they are double tracking to Prince Rupert. BNSF railroad (owned by big Obama donor Warren Buffet) is shipping 350,000 bpday of Bakken and oil sands oil mostly to the gulf and wants to increase it to one million barrels per day. Big rail, big money politics has delayed the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Roland Seguin, Langley