The Politics of Canada's of Dilbit Pipelines are a Web of Deception, Special Interests and PR

A few days ago the Vancouver Observer, a leading progressive voice in left coast environmental politics, published 'Two giant oil pipelines proposed to speed "doubling" of tar sands' by Mychaylo Prystupa. Like i said yesterday, even the most progressive outlets have knuckled under to the deceptive propaganda by calling all of the pipelines 'oil' pipelines not the correct term 'dilbit' pipelines. Words matter, the mental pictures we frame information in are determined by the subconscious definition we assigned those words. Constructing acceptable frames is how PR operates.

Dilbit is not oil. You can even see the chunky nature of the dilbit,. Dilbit has special risks when transported in pipelines. For example, due to the high the viscosity and specific gravity of dilbit, shipping it in a pipeline requires higher pressure and higher heat than ordinary crude oil.  This makes dilbit pipelines especially subject to cavitation, friction, fluid hammer, and piezoelectric effects, which can produce vibrations, resonances, shock, explosions, weld failures and pipeline ruptures. Let’s hope the media starts reporting this correctly, but the Vegas odds are very long on that.

i'm not picking on the Vancouver Observer, i agree with their perspective by and large, using such a reknown progressive voice as an example gives it more clout IMO. Mychaylo Prystupa's article says, "If all five [proposed pipelines] are green-lighted - with help from speedier Harper government approval processes - more than 4.1 million barrels of oil per day will flow by 2018." Adding, "The $12-billion eastward line would pump a neck-breaking 1.1 million barrels of oil per day - a flow double what Northern Gateway proposes to bring to B.C.’s west coast."

Nowhere does Prystupa's article mention that, as Elizabeth May points out,  "All the controversial pipelines now under debate -Keystone XL, Enbridge’s Line 9, Line 3 replacement, Transmountain Twinning and Northern Gateway - are intended to carry a 70-30 mixture of bitumen and diluents – brilliantly described as “dilbit.” So that means those dilbit pipelines would be transporting 1.5 million barrels a day of dilbit too. No mention either of where all that crap will come from or how it'll get back to Alberta to be reused

Again from Elizabeth May, "According to Enbridge’s evidence in the NEB hearings, its twinned pipeline will carry imported diluents from Kitimat to Alberta to be mixed with the bitumen. And the diluents will be purchased from the Middle East, and put in tankers to Canada. So much for being a domestic source of oil." Then the combined crud would be tankered to China where, presumably, the diluent would be separated and sent back to Kitimat for another go around. The other 4 haven't even publicly announced where all this diluent would come from or how it would be recycled. [more on all that coming soon].

The politics Canada's of dilbit pipelines is an exercise in fuzzy logic:

The Conservative Government, to their credit, clearly do what they believe in. They believe that unimpeded market capitalism is the only solution. They are financed by the corporations and banks, none more so than the fossil fuel industry in Alberta. The Harperites believe, like all good fundamentalist Christians, that God created the earth's resources for human use and that nothing we do can cause any lasting real damage to God's creation.

The official opposition party - the NDP - which was once Canada's progressive party and still hold a few progressive positions on certain issues, is more and more a servant of the special interest group that pays their bills - the big unions. Consequently, especially since Jack Layton died and Thomas Mulcair took over the leadership, the NDP supports any and all projects that big unions support. And, as a friend of mine said the other day, big unions have never seen a mega-project they didn't love.

The Liberals, now led by Justin Trudeau, stand firmly for nothing, as they always have. They support all of the pipelines but have 'serious concerns' about dilbit which equals bullshit. To be fair the Liberals have ruled Canada for most of the last century by always trying to be the kings of the mushy middle. Prince Justin is just doing what comes with the territory. Justin has taken a few strong positions, his 'legaize maruijuana' position being one.

The Green Party, led by Elizabeth May, say they "oppose moving bitumen out of Alberta.  It has to be (at least) upgraded to synthetic crude before shipping to refineries. That eliminates the two way flow in toxic diluent and the creation of dilbit. We favour refineries in Alberta.  But this only makes sense in the larger context my article sets out - a sensible energy policy, carbon reduction plan, and a stabilized planned oil sands production - ending the crazed plan to triple output." The Greens and E. May are the only party that consistently call dilbit dilbit not oil. For that alone they deserve thanks.

More tomorrow on how the politics of pipelines trumps the science and economics of each party's position on the dilbit deception.