Oil, Trade, War

March 1st, 2012 - C. P.

The Conservative government has turned up the heat in its aggressive pursuit of oil exportation. Just as the 2011 census results reveal Canada's paradigm of power shifting to the West, the Tories are more keen than ever to keep the power flowing.

Last month, the EU's fuel quality directive, which aims to reduce the imports of dirty fuel, was delayed following the EU's indecision on whether the Canadian oil sands are as harmful as once thought. The initial proposition triggered an explicit threat from Canada's ambassador to Europe, David Plunkett, suggesting that Canada will stop at nothing to sell its oil by exploring “every avenue at its disposal”. The letter from Plunkett also made insinuations of a possible trade war with Europe.

Through extensive lobbying and private strategy meetings, the Harper government has made it clear that Canada will not be “held hostage” by U.S. interests. The Prime Minister has also suggested, on numerous occasions, that the Obama administration was playing politics when it rejected the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Canada's Conservative government has taken the gloves off in what is about to become a no-holds-barred royal rumble.

What has not yet been successfully examined by ethical oil strategists is whether OPEC and Saudi Arabia are potential influence peddlers in this war against Alberta's oil sands. Such allegations would require evidence, and we can assume that Alberta's war machine has already begun to investigate the possibilities of Saudi influence and money being used in an attempt to dismantle and kill Canada's strategy to export ethical, non-OPEC oil to more willing consumers.

More recently, the Obama administration had put in a failed bid on Brazilian oil exports that was ultimately rejected due to adhesive environmental requirements and strict stipulations. Brazil, just like Canada, is not a member of OPEC.

The Harper government has battened down the hatches for what is set to become a long and thorough battle over Canadian oil exports. The odds appear to be against Canada's oil sands and Alberta's strategy to export its “dirty oil”. With environmentalists and First Nation groups inside Canadian borders, a U.S. President who seems reluctant to indulge any controversy during an election year, a power hungry amalgamate of oil producing countries (OPEC), a Europe bent on socialistic and environmental causes, a scientific community with climate change as its main focal point, and a growing trend towards fracking and the hunt for natural gas, the Tories seem at odds with everyone except themselves.

On a more positive note for Alberta's oil sands and on the topic of dirty oil, one of the world's leading climate scientists, Andrew Weaver, has recently published a commentary in Nature magazine that suggests carbon emissions from Alberta's oil sands are unlikely to have a significant impact on climate change. Weaver suggests that the biggest culprit of toxic carbon emissions is not oil, but coal and unconventional natural gas. Weaver's publication concludes that the Earth's temperature would increase by 15 degrees if all of the world's coal reserves were burned, as opposed to only .03 degrees if all of the hydrocarbons and energy from the oil sands were to be consumed.

Continuing on a positive note, most signs seem to indicate that the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline will, in fact, see the light of day. This will ensure that the oil sands will see increases in production for several years to come, regardless of whether the U.S. eventually agrees on an alternative to the Keystone XL.

The Harper government's fight for the oil sands and ethical oil will see some losses, like the rejection of the Keystone pipeline, but it will also see some wins. It will surely be a battle that will continue to gain the eye of global media. We will also see a strong, defiant, and potent version of Stephen Harper that we have not yet seen. Harper's defence of Canadian interests, regardless of environmental contention, will likely gain the admiration of even his most staunch opponents.