Do you know where your oil and gasoline comes from? I didn’t until reading about a pipeline that runs from Portland, Maine to Montreal. It was created during WW2 to supply the province’s factories with oil while German U-boats patrolled the St. Lawrence seaway. It still provides Quebec with oil today.
Now, however, there is a movement to reverse the flow of oil in order to export Alberta tar-sands oil to the U.S. Communities in the Eastern townships, led by Bloc Quebecois, are protesting this plan and arguing that Quebec should not support the “dirty” business of tar-sands oil extraction.
While that is a noble cause, it doesn’t make sense. If the oil doesn’t go through Quebec, that “dirty” oil will find its way to hungry consumers in the U.S. some other way. Besides, if you’re a reader of this Blog, you know that the real solution is to reduce demand for oil and gasoline while developing local and sustainable sources of energy for our transportation needs.
By the way, Montreal gets most of it’s oil from three foreign countries, according to the Gazette article below: Algeria, Angola and the United Kingdom. That would make me uncomfortable if I depended on oil (which we all do). Algeria and Angola are both politically unstable while the UK’s oil supply is way past its peak year of 1999 and they already import oil just to send it over to us.
This presents a challenging political decision for the Liberals: cave in to local NIMBY pressure or secure longer-term sources of oil from a reliable, albeit dirty, source in Alberta. In this light, the government’s sustainability plans should be a larger priority.
Source: Montreal Gazette
Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, in partnership with Montreal Pipe Line, has put forward a proposal to reverse the flow direction in the 18-inch pipe in order to start exporting Alberta oil-sands crude to Portland and points beyond. The oil-sands crude, or bitumen crude, would arrive in Montreal by pipeline via transfer point in Sarnia, Ont., and be diverted in Montreal into the pipeline to Portland.
In Quebec, the provincial Parti Québécois and federal Bloc Québécois have jumped on Enbridge’s Trailbreaker project, as the flow-reversal project is called, and begun to mobilize political opposition at the municipal level.
The two political parties say Quebec should think twice about aiding the conveyance of oil-sands oil; at the very least, they say, the government of Quebec should hold public environmental hearings on the proposal.
Opponents of the Trailbreaker project say they fear the reversal of flow along the line of 18-inch pipe will create higher risks of leakage. But experts say flow direction doesn’t really matter, given that the pipes in question are fusion-welded, not connected by male-and-female sleeving like washer-dryer exhaust pipes.
Opponents also say higher pump pressures will be required to move heavier bitumen crude and the 60-year-old 18-inch pipe might not be able to withstand higher pressures.