The time to build new pipelines has passed, even if it would be impolitic for the Premier of Alberta to admit it, a retired fossil executive argues this week in a post on iPolitics.
“The problem a pipeline to tidewater was intended to address,” Ross Belot writes, “doesn’t exist anymore.” That problem was the limited American market where Alberta’s diluted tar sands/oil sands bitumen can be delivered. Locked out of world trade, where crude was soaring, Canadian producers were reduced to being price “takers”.
While that’s still the case, Belot argues, the moment of triple-digit crude prices has passed (they now hover in the mid-US$30 range), and it’s unlikely to return.
“Alberta’s problem is twofold: Its oilsands have been buried by fracked American oil that is both higher-value and cheaper to produce, while longer-term they face marginalization in a world committed to weaning itself off carbon.
“So another pipeline isn’t needed,” he concludes. “Oilsands production won’t be expanding much in the foreseeable future, if it all. Money spent on a pipeline right now would be money wasted. But Notley can’t say that aloud.”