A lesson from Russia on energy policy

The Power of Siberia gas line from Russia to China. – Gazprom graphic.

I hear some people at this time of the year begin to sift through files and discard those which meet the criteria of the “discard” grade, and ponder on those documents which may be important enough to upgrade to the “think about it” level.

I offer up another tab for your reference that I call the “just in case you missed it” file.

This is an appropriate title in this country’s case because as a global energy power we are on the verge of missing it, mainly because our politicians never got it.

But someone sure got it.

While we piddle away the years just trying to expand the 66-year-old Trans Mountain 1,100-km crude conduit, the Russians, after just five years from the first shovel in the ground, turned the taps on a 3,000-km natural gas pipeline to China.

So, the Russians got it!

And, so will the Chinese, as this will deliver to them 5 billion cubic feet per day of product in 2020, ramping up to 38 billion cubic feet per day in 2025.

Just in case you missed it (or is it just me who missed it), the purpose of the TMX expansion is, or maybe it’s now “was,” to expand our customer base for crude oil from one to perhaps two – that being the above-mentioned Chinese market.

OK, so what if our potential for crude oil exports to Asia evaporates because of Russian nat gas competition? Well, we’ll always have our friends to the south as the backbone to our export demand, won’t we?

Better be careful with that thought, though.

In case you missed it, 10 years ago the U.S. was importing 10 million bpd of crude and refined petroleum products. Just this past September the same U.S. of A reversed itself and exported 89,000 bpd of crude and those same crude related products.

Meanwhile, we in this country haven’t solved the problem of exporting Alberta’s crude to ourselves, that meaning interprovincially, let alone internationally. We will however, and for some reason, continue to import Saudi and Russian crude to feed refineries in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to toss all this dreary information into a new file called… Let’s call it, “Justin’s case and how he missed it.”

~ The Grouch

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Roger McKnight is the Chief Petroleum Analyst with En-Pro International Inc.
Roger has over 25 years experience in the oil industry, and has held senior marketing management positions responsible for national and international accounts. He is the originator of the card lock concept of marketing on-road diesel that is now the predominant purchase method of diesel in Canada. Roger's knowledge of the oil industry in North America, and pricing structures has resulted in his expertise being sought as a commentator by local, national, and international media. Roger is a regular guest on radio and television programs, and he is quoted regularly in newspapers and magazines across Canada.

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