November 23, 2007
Attached are copies of a couple of newspaper articles regarding announcement of construction of a major new gas pipeline to "feed" tarsands exploitation in Alberta. This proposed new pipeline is intended to transport natural gas east from gas fields in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia -- through the middle of unceded Lubicon Territory -- to tarsands projects in the Fort McMurray area. The articles say, among other things, that:
TransCanada is proceeding with plans to construct a "jumbo pipeline across northern Alberta for express deliveries of natural gas to natural-gas guzzling oilsands plants";
That "projected oilsands consumption in 2015 is equivalent to annual gas use by five million homes, more than all of Alberta";
That "depending on natural gas for oil sands production is probably not the best use of a resource that heats the homes of most Canadians", but that this new pipeline will provide the huge amounts of energy required for tarsands exploitation "right now" until more economic "new technologies (read nuclear power)" can be developed to "feed Fort McMurray":
That "the company seeks speedy regulatory approval";
That "the schedule calls for construction to begin before the end of 2008 if approval can be obtained in time from the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board";
That "jumbo pipe, 42 inches (105 centimetres) in diameter, is on order" and "construction contracts will be awarded soon";
That "no objections were raised in extensive consultation with landowners, native communities and other 'interested stakeholders' in the sparsely populated forests and muskeg swamps the line will cross".
At a meeting in Little Buffalo Lake as recently as last Wednesday (November 14th), TransCanada representatives tabled a non-binding draft "Memorandum of Understanding to establish a co-operative process for the development of a mutually respectful relationship between the Lubicon and TransCanada". This non-binding "Memorandum of Understanding" is designed to meet TransCanada's "duty to consult" under Canadian law should the Lubicons challenge the pipeline in the Canadian courts. It talks about "respecting Lubicon's assertion of traditional and cultural use of their traditional territory" -- which in carefully drafted legal language means limited rights to use the surface of the land but not land or resource rights. It proposes to set up a two person "Joint Working Group" -- one Lubicon representative and one TransCanada representative -- "to maintain open communication and guide implementation of this MOU". It proposes "to contribute a total of $50,000 in equal installments of $10,000 per year...to support Lubicon educational, training or community initiatives as agreed upon by the JWG". It does not answer Lubicon questions about pipeline construction and operation nor respect the recognized fact that jurisdiction over unceded Lubicon Territory is contested.
TransCanada representatives were told that the Lubicons will oppose the proposed pipeline at least until TransCanada answers Lubicon questions about proposed pipeline construction and operation and recognizes Lubicon jurisdiction over unceded Lubicon Territory by obtaining Lubicon approval to proceed prior to making application to the provincial regulatory board. TransCanada representatives promised "to set up a meeting with people (at TransCanada) who call the shots". They said "we are "sure you are very tired of hearing the same thing".
To-date no meeting has been arranged with TransCanada representatives who can answer Lubicon questions. The Lubicons continue to oppose construction of a pipeline about which they cannot get a straight answer to such simple questions as what happens in the event of pipeline failure -- which happens in Alberta all the time. Moreover TransCanada has continued to dance around the issue of disputed jurisdiction choosing to try and rely on slick legal language that in the end commits TransCanada to no more than they are required to do in any event under Canadian law.
The Lubicons will continue to oppose construction of this proposed new pipeline at least until they can get answers to their questions about pipeline construction and operation -- and respect for the fact that they have never ceded their rights to Lubicon Territory in any legally or historically recognized way.
The Edmonton Journal
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Edmonton - A jumbo pipeline will be built across northern Alberta for express deliveries to natural-gas guzzling oilsands plants, under industry plans announced Wednesday.
TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. unveiled the $983-million project, called North Central Corridor, on the heels of a forecast by the National Energy Board that bitumen belt gas consumption will nearly triple by 2015.
The schedule calls for construction to begin before the end of 2008, if approval can be obtained in time from the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board. A target of April 2010 is set for starting deliveries.
No job estimates were released. Comparable oilsands pipeline construction now underway across Jasper National Park employs 560 tradesmen and managers.
Pipeline projects avoid worker shortages by paying top dollar to a national pool of mobile specialists. Hourly wages on the Jasper job are $87.55 for welders and start at $21.42 for labourers.
Jumbo pipe, 42 inches (105 centimetres) in diameter, is on order for the northern gas line, TransCanada communications officer Shela Shapiro said. Construction contracts will be awarded soon, she added.
The company seeks speedy regulatory approval. The proposed route, from a western inlet about 600 kilometres northwest of Edmonton to an eastern outlet in the heart of the bitumen belt midway between Fort McMurray and Cold Lake, follows established "infrastructure corridors" such as power lines, TransCanada said.
No objections were raised in extensive consultation with landowners, native communities and other "interested stakeholders" in the sparsely populated forests and muskeg swamps the line will cross, the firm said.
No industrial customer or cluster of plants has booked up the proposed gas delivery capacity, Shapiro said.
Initial deliveries, of 1.3 to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day, will exceed the planned opening capacity of the $16.2-billion Mackenzie Gas Project now proposed for construction by 2013 at the earliest. But gas use in thermal bitumen production and upgrading, plus oilsands plant power stations, will jump to 1.8-billion cubic feet a day by 2015 from a current 650 million cubic feet daily, the NEB said in a forecast released late last week.
The projected oilsands consumption in 2015 is equivalent to annual gas use by five million homes, more than in all of Alberta. A typical Edmonton or Calgary household uses 135 gigajoules (128,000 cubic feet) of gas in a year, Direct Energy Regulated Services reports.
A new pipeline for express gas deliveries to the oilsands has been on industry drawing boards since the late 1990s and has repeatedly ignited protests by environmental organizations.
Conservationists lined up to resist the Mackenzie project when its roving environmental review panel held Edmonton hearings earlier this year. Protesters said the Arctic would be spoiled only to nurture the most polluting arm of Alberta industry.
But Mackenzie project senior partner Imperial Oil, also a top bitumen producer, said the oilsands rush would continue even if the Arctic gas project froze.
The two major branches of the fossil fuels industry are developing independently, the firm told the Edmonton hearings shortly before announcing a three-year delay of the Arctic pipeline due to climbing costs and slow regulatory procedures.
TransCanada's oilsands fuel line does not rely on the Mackenzie project. Supplies will come from prolific gas fields in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia, Shapiro said.
There will be enough gas to satisfy Canadian needs despite increased consumption by oilsands plants, the NEB predicted. The pinch will be felt in the United States. Gas exports are forecast to shrink by as much as 40 per cent over the next 10 years.
The Globe and Mail
November 22, 2007
TransCanada Corp. plans a $1-billion pipeline to traverse northern Alberta, moving natural gas to "feed" increasing oil sand production around Fort McMurray.
TransCanada said yesterday that it has filed a regulatory application to build the 300-kilometre link, which was first talked about in the 1990s. It is expected to be in service by 2010 and will link northwestern Alberta with northeastern Alberta.
The National Energy Board has forecast oil sands production will nearly triple by 2015, reaching almost three million barrels a day. Natural gas, regarded as a cleaner-burning fossil fuel, serves various purposes in the oil sands. It is burned to produce power to fuel the extraction process, as well as to help generate hydrogen used at mining operations to upgrade raw output into synthetic oil.
The NEB believes the amount of gas used in oil sands production could triple by 2015.
Hal Kvisle, TransCanada chief executive officer, suggested in an interview yesterday that depending on natural gas for oil sands production is probably not the best use of a resource that heats the homes of most Canadians. He said new technologies likely will eventually reduce the amount of gas needed but right now there is a market demand to "feed Fort McMurray."
"We just serve the market," said Mr. Kvisle, who runs Canada's biggest gas pipeline company.
"The market is there in Fort McMurray. ... We'd rather move gas to New York City [collecting higher shipping tolls] than to Fort McMurray."
The proposed pipeline, dubbed the North Central Corridor, also recognizes a shift of Western Canadian gas production to northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia.
Longer term, the North Central Corridor will also be a link in Alberta for the proposed Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline, a project that is struggling but could move gas from the Mackenzie Delta 1,200 kilometres south to northern Alberta.
While the gas wouldn't necessarily go directly to fuel the oil sands, it would add to the mix, and the North Central Corridor would be the link to move Mackenzie gas from where it enters Alberta over to Fort McMurray.
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