Petroleum commentary: Cooperation eludes politicians

TMXOne thing I really like about our Canadian winters is that it lets me watch sun-soaked tennis on TV during the Australian Open, so we can see there’s balance in the world today — when we’re freezing, we watch them sweat! Who says Canadians aren’t cooperative?

Alas, balance and cooperation aren’t included in the current lexicon of our elected representatives.

Just look at their thought balance brain cramp when support for any proposed crude oil project, in theory or practice, is practically and impartially ignored. Or, is it just not understood?

Cue the drum roll

B.C. premier Horgan’s attempt to do an end run on the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX) got him rear-ended with a resounding and almost immediate legal ruling, that he and the province could neither dictate rules to the court nor the entire country on interprovincial pipelines, let alone what type of crude oil flows through them.

May I point out that the current TMX is a batch line, which means that it moves not only crude but refined products in batches. Imagine a train pulling railcars with each loaded with a different product.

This means that it supplies the Burnaby refinery with crude and the Lower Mainland with gasoline and diesel directly from Edmonton. If and when the TMX is twinned, the new line will just transport diluted bitumen, which will allow for more pipeline space on the existing line to supply gasoline and diesel to the Vancouver area, where prices are currently the highest in North America.

So, all will be in balance.

Now that it appears that the TMX is on the verge of construction and Alberta’s crude will finally find an alternative market in Asia, I have to ask myself why the Energy East pipeline is the Energy Least in favor by our current government – an administration that actually had to buy the TMX in order to expand it?

I’m getting dizzy spinning the logic on that merry-go-round!

Why does it appear that everything is being done to not get anything done when it comes to getting Alberta crude out of the ground, into a pipeline, and out of the country?

Alberta has been, and still is, the economic engine of the entire country including Ontario and Quebec. We can keep the engine from stalling by moving Alberta crude East.

Yes, but that means crossing political lines as opposed to provincial ones.

Somehow attempting to convince Quebec of the importance of using Alberta crude is beyond the grasp or interest of the federal government. Nor is it seemingly possible to remind that same premier of the recent TMX ruling and experience that pipelines fall under Ottawa’s jurisdiction.

Everything is out of balance in this county. After all, what stays in the West just stays in the West, because it can’t go East. That’s out of balance.

~ 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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