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‘They’re Trying to Take My House’

‘They’re Trying to Take My House’

A massive LNG project faces rising opposition in Oregon. The quiet backer is a Canadian firm.

For the past several years, Mike Williams has had hanging over his head the possibility that a Calgary oil and gas company could kick him and his family out of their home. The Pembina Pipeline Corporation is trying “to fuck me over,” he told The Tyee.

Williams, his wife Jane and their four-month-old daughter live on a rural property in southern Oregon with fir trees “you can wrap your arms around” and a rolling hill leading to a wetland. Several years ago, he started getting calls from Pembina asking him to sell the property. At first, he claims they offered him $78,000, which Williams considered an insult. That would barely allow him to purchase “a trailer in a mobile park,” he said. Then the offer apparently went up to $300,000.

Now Williams worries that the company will use eminent domain, whereby the government allows private property to be taken over for projects deemed in the public interest, to run a 36-inch natural gas pipeline through his drinking water supply and turn the home he built from salvaged materials into a staging area for the construction. “That’s the worst thing,” he said. “They’re going to let a Canadian company eminent domain a U.S. citizen. It’s wrong.”

That may be what’s happening in private. But in public, the pipeline’s defenders are telling a much different story — in fact, their strategy is to not even mention Pembina by name.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP Planned to Use Snipers in Assault on Wet’suwet’en Protest, Guardian Reports

RCMP Planned to Use Snipers in Assault on Wet’suwet’en Protest, Guardian Reports

Newspaper cites planning documents that called for ‘lethal overwatch’ to ensure pipeline built.

RCMP-Pipeline-Camp.jpg
Heavily armed RCMP officers sent to Indigenous checkpoint with instructions for ‘sterlizing the site,’ documents reveal. Photo by Michael Toledano.

The RCMP were prepared to use snipers with shoot-to-kill orders when they launched a raid to remove Indigenous protesters slowing pipeline construction in Wet’suwet’en territory, the Guardian reported today.

The exclusive report by Jaskiran Dhillon and Will Parrish reveals RCMP planning notes included arguments that “lethal overwatch is req’d,” a term for deploying snipers.

The Guardian reports RCMP commanders instructed officers to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want” as they planned the Jan. 7 action to remove a gated checkpoint and camp about 120 kilometres southwest of Smithers.

The RCMP sent heavily armed officers in military-style fatigues to break down a gate, arrest 14 people and enforce a “temporary exclusion zone” that barred anyone aside from police from the area. The police were enforcing an injunction obtained by Coastal GasLink, the company building a pipeline to take natural gas to a planned LNG project in Kitimat.

The Guardian reports RCMP documents note arrests would be necessary for “sterilizing the site.” Plans included arresting everyone in the injunction area, including children and elders.

They also show the RCMP conducted surveillance in advance of the raid including heavily armed police patrols, drones, heat-sensing cameras and monitoring of protesters social media postings.

And the report reveals the RCMP and pipeline company officials worked closely together on strategy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Exclusive: Enbridge Is Behind This Front Group Pushing the Company’s Line 3 Oil Pipeline Project

Exclusive: Enbridge Is Behind This Front Group Pushing the Company’s Line 3 Oil Pipeline Project

Enbridge building

Minnesotans for Line 3, a group established last year to advocate for an Enbridge oil pipeline project, presents itself as a grassroots organization consisting of “thousands of members.”

But a DeSmog investigation has found that behind the scenes, the Calgary-based energy giant is pulling the strings. Enbridge has provided the group with funding, public relations, and a variety of advocacy tactics.

The investigation has also found that a public relations firm behind the operation recently tried to erase its ties to Enbridge.

Facebook Splurge and Secret Tactics

Minnesotans for Line 3 first appeared in the battle over Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project early last year.

Opponents, who this week employed direct action tactics to block initial work on the project and delivered a petition to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, include several Native communities — among them the White Earth and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. Of their main concerns, these groups cite violation of Indigenous rights, risks associated with oil spills, and climate change impacts.

Through a series of TV ads and op-eds, along with a social media campaign and a petition delivered to state authorities, Minnesotans for Line 3 called for approving Enbridge’s multi-billion dollar plan to replace and reroute its aging pipeline that transports Canadian tar sands oil through North Dakota and Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.

Facebook ad library archive for Minnesotans for Line 3 ads

The group spent considerable funds on Facebook advertising, making it the tenth largest digital ad purchaser among interest groups between November 2018 and April 2019. And it allegedly engaged in more stealthy tactics as well: Dozens of young people wearing Minnesotans for Line 3 shirts occupied spots in a line at a state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearing on the project at the expense of the project’s opponents – only to disappear shortly after receiving the tickets.    

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Two Pipelines Shut Down After 43 Barrels of Crude Leak into Missouri Soil

Two Pipelines Shut Down After 43 Barrels of Crude Leak into Missouri Soil

Parts of two pipelines owned by controversial Canadian pipeline companies remained shut down Thursday following the discovery of a leak near St. Louis, Missouri on Wednesday, CBC News reported

Both TransCanada‘s Keystone pipeline and Enbridge‘s Platte pipeline run parallel to each other through the area. The Keystone pipeline, which carries 590,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta, has faced opposition from environmental activists in the area because it transports from Alberta’s tar sands.

“[Leaks] are one more reason on top of climate change to show that tar sands are dangerous and should not be running through our state,” Missouri Sierra Club Director John Hickey told St. Louis Public Radio. Residents are also worried the poor quality of the pipeline’s steel makes leaks more likely, Hickey said.

The leak was discovered by a TransCanada technician 7:14 a.m. Wednesday. The technician found crude oil covering some 4,000 square feet around the pipeline in St. Charles County, Missouri. TransCanada said it was not sure how much oil had leaked, but thought it was around 43 barrels. The company said it was not yet possible to tell if the leak came from the Keystone or neighboring Enbridge pipeline.

“Until you can excavate and see the top of the pipes, you can’t really determine which pipeline the release occurred from,” TransCanada Public Information Officer Matthew John told St. Louis Public Radio.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Alberta Is Playing a Dangerous Game with Pipeline Ad Campaign

Alberta Is Playing a Dangerous Game with Pipeline Ad Campaign

The anti-BC PR blitz fuels the anger of right-wing groups like the ‘yellow vests.’

Alberta-Ads.jpg
Alberta’s ad campaign, with its complaint of being ‘held hostage,’ risks unleashing destructive forces.

Tyee investigation revealed the expensive details of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s national public relations effort to scapegoat British Columbia, including dubious claims of pipeline benefits translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Filipino and Punjabi. 

Not merely cynical and inaccurate, the campaign to portray Albertans as victims also risks emboldening a growing number of extremist elements hijacking “yellow vest” protests. 

Alberta government spin doctors apparently decided on a simplistic strategy of framing any opposition to Trans Mountain as “B.C. against Canada.”

The behind-the-scenes brain trust also arrived at two other Orwellian platitudes: “It’s senseless to pit the environment against the economy,” and, “This is a good thing” — a slogan that might be dreamed up if Martha Stewart worked for Burson-Marsteller

It’s not often that the roof is lifted off the sausage-making factory to reveal the political abattoir in operation. Such as they are, the arguments advanced in the national misinformation onslaught include such untruths as mythicalAsian markets, how expanding exports of unprocessed bitumen are somehow good for meeting our climate goals, and the biggest nose-stretcher of all: how much the absence of a pipeline is costing Canadians. Alberta first claimed it was losing $4 million a day in revenue. That became $40 million a day for all Canadians. Wait! Now it’s $80 million. Isn’t all mathematics really just a matter of opinion?

Government-funded ad campaigns are conveniently unencumbered by the same standards of advertising accuracy required by the private sector — a loophole used to great effect by the authors behind this effort. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another Crucial Canadian Pipeline Runs Into Trouble

Another Crucial Canadian Pipeline Runs Into Trouble

LNG canada

Late last year, Royal Dutch Shell gave the greenlight to a massive LNG export terminal on Canada’s Pacific Coast, one of the largest investments in LNG in years. But like other fossil fuel projects in Canada, the plans have run into some trouble.

Shell’s LNG Canada project hinges on a crucial pipeline that will connect gas fields along the border of British Columbia and Alberta to the Pacific coast at Kitimat. The Coastal GasLink pipeline is to be constructed by TransCanada (or, rather TC Energy, as the company now wants to be known).

The Coastal GasLink pipeline was supposed to mark a departure from previous long distance pipelines in Canada – a project that would, from the start, adequately consult with First Nations. Prior pipeline projects – Enbridge’s Northern Gateway and Line 3; TransCanada’s Energy East; as well as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion – ran into stiff resistance from various First Nations.

TransCanada hoped that Coastal GasLink would be different. But, it too is now meeting resistance. Members of the Wet’suwet’en nation threw up makeshift barricades to stop construction on their land in recent weeks. On January 7, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke through those barricades and arrested at least 14 people. RCMP said it was enforcing a court order, but the clash made national and international headlines.

The situation is complex because the Wet’suwet’en nation never signed a treaty with Canada, so their territory is neither ceded nor even formally acknowledged by Canada. “What I see is a long history of the Canadian government doing its best to avoid acknowledging the existence of other systems of government,” Gordon Christie, a scholar of indigenous law at the University of British Columbia, told The Guardian.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

First Nations Pipeline Protest: 14 Land Protectors Arrested as Canadian Police Raid Indigenous Camp

In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the police breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory. TransCanada Corporation has been seeking entry into indigenous territory, where they are planning to build the massive $4.7 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline. Land protectors from First Nations clans set up two encampments where they had been physically blocking entry to TransCanada workers.

We speak with Karla Tait, a member of the Unist’ot’en House Group of the Gilseyhu Clan. She’s the mental wellness manager for the Northern Region with the First Nations Health Authority, serving the 54 First Nations in Northern British Columbia. Dr. Tait is also the director of clinical programming for the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In Canada, armed forces raided native Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia Monday, with at least 14 arrests being reported. Land defenders faced off with Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the officers breached two checkpoints set up to keep pipeline workers out of protected territory. Indigenous leaders are reportedly being blocked from their territory.

WET’SUWET’EN LAND DEFENDER: The Wet’suwet’en have won rights and title to their lands. We did not hurt anyone. The hereditary chiefs say, “No, you cannot go through our lands.” And under your law, the authority is them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

Caspian pipeline

Things have been quite active in the Eastern Mediterranean lately, with Israel, Cyprus and Greece pushing forward for the realization of the EastMed pipeline, a new gas conduit destined to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and find a long-term reliable market outlet for all the recent Mediterranean gas discoveries. The three sides have reached an agreement in late November (roughly a year after signing the MoU) to lay the pipeline, the estimated cost of which hovers around $7 billion (roughly the same as rival TurkStream’s construction cost). Yet behind the brave facade, it is still very early to talk about EastMed as a viable and profitable project as it faces an uphill battle with traditionally difficult Levantine geopolitics, as well as field geology.

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland. Since most of its subsea section is projected to be laid at depths of 3-3.5 kilometer, in case it is built it would become the deepest subsea gas pipeline, most probably the longest, too, with an estimated length of 1900km. The countries involved proceed from the premise that the pipeline’s throughput capacity would be 20 BCM per year (706 BCf), although previous estimates were within the 12-16 BCm per year interval. According to Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, the stakeholders would need a year to iron out all the remaining administrative issues and 4-5 years to build the pipeline, meaning it could come onstream not before 2025.

The idea of EastMed was first flaunted around 2009-2010 as the first more or less substantial gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Tamar gas field in Israel’s offshore zone, paved the way for speculations about an impending gas boom.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Alberta’s Problem Isn’t Pipelines; It’s Bad Policy Decisions

Alberta’s Problem Isn’t Pipelines; It’s Bad Policy Decisions

Bitumen prices are low because the province has ignored at least a decade of warnings.

The Alberta government has known for more than a decade that its oilsands policies were setting the stage for today’s price crisis.

Which makes it hard to take the current government seriously when it tries to blame everyone from environmentalists to other provinces for what is a self-inflicted economic problem.

In 2007, a government report warned that prices for oilsands bitumen could eventually fall so low that the government’s royalty revenues — critical for its budget — would be at risk.

The province should encourage companies to add value to the bitumen by upgrading and refining it into gasoline or diesel to avoid the coming price plunge, the report said.

Instead, the government has kept royalties — the amount the public gets for the resource — low and encouraged rapid oilsands development, producing a market glut.

With North American pipelines largely full, U.S. oil production surging and U.S. refineries working at full capacity, Alberta has wounded itself with bad policy choices, say experts.

The Alberta government and oil industry is in crisis mode because the gap between the price paid for Western Canadian Select — a blend of heavy oil and diluent — and benchmark West Texas Intermediate oils has widened to $40 US a barrel.

Some energy companies have called on the government to impose production cuts to increase prices.

The business case for slowing bitumen production was made by the great Fort McMurray fire of 2015.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

TAR SANDS OPERATIONS GO FROM BAD TO WORSE: Now Losing Billions A Month

TAR SANDS OPERATIONS GO FROM BAD TO WORSE: Now Losing Billions A Month

The situation at Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands Operations has gone from bad to worse as the super-low oil price is now costing the industry billions of dollars each month.  Unbelievably, the price for the Western Canadian Select heavy oil fell to a gut-wrenching $14.65 yesterday down from a high of $58 in May.  Tar sands oil is now selling at an amazing $40 discount to U.S. West Texas Oil which is trading at $56.

The main reasons for the falling price of Alberta tar sands are due to Canadian pipelines full to capacity as well as midwest U.S. refineries shut down for seasonal maintenance.  Furthermore, the announcement by a U.S. Federal Judge to block the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline on November 9th, didn’t help.

According to data from the Natural Resources Canada, the Alberta Tar Sands Operations were producing 2.7 million barrels per day (mbd) of oil in 2017.  I would imagine production this year is likely to reach close to 3 mbd.  The largest tar sands producer in Alberta is Suncor.  Suncor produced a record 476,000 barrels per day of tar sands in the third quarter of 2018.

Now, Suncor reported a handsome $1.4 billion profit in Q3 2018 on $8.3 billion in revenues.  However, that profit was based on much higher Western Canadian Select (WCS) oil price which was trading over an average of $35 for the quarter.  Unfortunately, the average price of WCS so far in the fourth quarter is $20.75.  And, if the price of WCS stays at the current low price, the tar sands operators will be receiving less than $20 a barrel.

In the article, Capacity shortages costing Canadian producers $100M/day, it stated:

“Heavy-oil producers are getting 40 percent of what they normally would be paid if we had access to markets,” said Grant Fagerheim, CEO of Calgary-based Whitecap Resources, which produces about 60,000 barrels per day.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bakken Prices Crumble On Pipeline Woes

Bakken Prices Crumble On Pipeline Woes

Pipeline

Oil production is growing so quickly in the Bakken that the region is starting to suffer from painful pipeline constraints.

U.S. shale is not new to pipeline bottlenecks. The Permian basin has suffered from steep discounts this year, with WTI in Midland trading as much as $20 per barrel below WTI in Houston at times. Meanwhile, the midstream bottleneck is especially acute in Canada, where the inability to build a major pipeline out of Alberta has led to price discounts that have reached as high as $50 per barrel. Western Canada Select fell as low as $15 per barrel in recent daysafter a U.S. federal judge blocked construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, dealing yet another blow to Canada’s oil industry.

Now, the pipeline woes could be spreading to the Bakken. Production in the Bakken has jumped this year, rising from 1.188 million barrels per day (mb/d) in January to 1.354 mb/d in November, according to the EIA’s forecast in its Drilling Productivity Report. It is a dramatic turnaround for the Bakken after it had hit a temporary peak in late 2014 at 1.26 mb/d, before falling to 0.956 mb/d two years later. Since bottoming out at the end of 2016, however, production has slowly rebounded, with a record output level expected this month.

Rising output has been good news for Bakken shale drillers, but now they face an uncertain near-term future as pipeline capacity fills up. While the Bakken is producing over 1.3 mb/d in output, the region’s pipeline systems can only handle 1.25 mb/d, according to Reuters and Genscape. With pipelines essentially tapped out, oil producers are starting to turn to rail, just as they did years ago when the Bakken first burst onto the scene.

To make matters worse, cold weather could disrupt rail loadings, an unfortunate bit of timing as takeaway capacity dwindles.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Germany Clashes With The U.S. Over Energy Geopolitics

Germany Clashes With The U.S. Over Energy Geopolitics

Nord Stream 2

The United States and the European Union (EU) are at odds over more than just the Iran nuclear deal – tensions surrounding energy policy have also become a flashpoint for the two global powerhouses.

In energy policy, the U.S. has been opposing the Gazprom-led and highly controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which will follow the existing Nord Stream natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea. EU institutions and some EU members such as Poland and Lithuania are also against it, but one of the leaders of the EU and the end-point of the planned project—Germany— supports Nord Stream 2 and sees the project as a private commercial venture that will help it to meet rising natural gas demand.

While the U.S. has been hinting this year that it could sanction the project and the companies involved in it—which include not only Gazprom but also major European firms Shell, Engie, OMV, Uniper, and Wintershall—Germany has just said that Washington shouldn’t interfere with Europe’s energy choices and policies.

“I don’t want European energy policy to be defined in Washington,” Germany’s Foreign Ministry State Secretary Andreas Michaelis said at a conference on trans-Atlantic ties in Berlin this week.

Germany has to consult with its European partners regarding the project, Michaelis said, and noted, as quoted by Reuters, that he was “certainly not willing to accept that Washington is deciding at the end of the day that we should not rely on Russian gas and that we should not complete this pipeline project.”

In July this year, U.S. President Donald Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that “Germany is a captive of Russia because they supply.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pipeline that Exploded in Pennsylvania Part of Push to Build Fracking-Reliant Petrochemical Network

Pipeline that Exploded in Pennsylvania Part of Push to Build Fracking-Reliant Petrochemical Network

And that’s when it all hit us what was happening,” Belczyk told NPR’s State Impact. “You knew the pipeline went.”

A column of fire shot 150 feet in the air and destroyed a home, a barn, and several cars. Residents of over two dozen homes, including Belczyk, were evacuated, with one family barely escaping the flames that engulfed their home, neighbors said. Interstate 376 was shut down amid concern over falling power lines, including a half-dozen high tension towers, which left 1,500 people temporarily without electricity. No one was injured or killed by the blast, authorities said, and because of recent rains, the possibility of a forest fire was averted.

The 24” diameter pipeline responsible for the blast had gone into service just seven days earlier. It’s owned by Energy Transfer Partners, the same pipeline company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline project and the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has said it suspects that the blast was caused by heavy rainfall, which they believe may have caused the pipeline to slip on the saturated ground, break, and then explode.

Energy Transfer Partners dubbed its new “gathering” line the Revolution pipeline. Revolution was built to connect individual gas wells to a new cryogenic plant, the Revolution gas processing plant, where so-called “wet gas” from Marcellus wells would be separated into natural gas liquids and dry gas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fate Of Key Gas Pipeline In The Balance As Putin, Merkel Begin Meeting

“Russian influence will flow through that pipeline right into Europe, and that is what we are going to prevent,” an unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal just as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel meet outside of Berlin on Saturday centered on the two countries moving forward with the controversial Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, but also involving issues from the Iran nuclear deal to ending the war in Syria.

Intense pressure from Washington is overshadowing the project, construction of which is already in advanced stages, as the WSJ citescurrent and former US officials who say sanctions are under discussion and could be mobilized in a mere matter of weeks.

These potential sanctions, ostensibly being discussed in response to US intelligence claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election,could target companies and financial firms involved in the massive pipeline’s construction.

This comes after comments from President Trump at the opening of a NATO summit in July made things uncomfortable for his German counterpart when he said that Germany is so dependent on Russia for energy that it’s essentially being “held captive” by Vladimir Putin and his government.

“Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia. They pay billions of dollars to Russia and we have to defend them against Russia,” Trump told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg at a televised opening breakfast.

The pipeline has been opposed by multiple US administrations, who have long accuse the Kremlin of seeking to accrue political leverage over Europe given the latter’s already high dependence on Russian natural gas. The pipeline has been a frequent talking point and target of attacks by Trump, who has threatened to escalate the trade war against Germany going back months if it supported the construction of the pipeline.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy

Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy

Photo by Luke Jones | CC BY 2.0

The national debate about how to get diluted bitumen to trans-oceanic markets by means of a twinning of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline route between Alberta and British Columbia – known as the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project – illustrates the sad state of economic planning, diversification and vision in Canada.

The current policy of dependence on the sale of carbon-based energy resources, coupled with reliance on residential real estate construction and sale, is a short-sighted environmental and industrial strategy for a nation such as Canada. The country’s forecast continued dependence on the extraction of oil and gas, the burning of which our planet can no longer sustain, along with our primary devotion to the FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) model of wealth creation does not serve the well-being of all Canadians nor preserve our natural environment. Instead, we should be considering alternative economic approaches that affirm Canadian economic sovereignty through the creation of jobs and socially re-invested dividends linked to a sustainable future.

It is time we organize our economy along different lines, putting people, communities and the environment ahead of pipeline revenues, quarterly profits, and energy stock prices. That this may pose challenges is not a matter of dispute. Nevertheless, our reluctance to revise or discard established ways of doing things has been an impediment to change in the past.  This was noted fifty years ago by the distinguished Canadian economic historian Harold Innis, who, in discussing our political culture, noted our “infinite capacity for self-congratulation.”  This complacency is perhaps not surprising when one considers our rich abundance of resources, land, and water; our good fortune to be situated next to the world’s economic behemoth which possessed an apparently insatiable appetite for our raw materials and commodities; and, finally, our small population occupying an immense landmass according each individual an almost blessed sense of space, ease and, for a time, opportunity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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