Entries in Enbridge (4)


Tankers and Whales 

I lived on Vancouver’s North Shore for eight years. During that time, our family took the ferries across to Vancouver Island and up the coast on a regular basis. Always, we eagerly watched and hoped for a whale sighting and occasionally were rewarded.

Orca, humpback and fin whales (all species at risk) travel to the waters of the Northern Pacific coast every summer. When water temperatures and atmospheric pressure force coastal waters to move eastward, a phenomenon called upwelling, moves nutrient and krill-rich water from the deep ocean to the surface attracting all manner of sea life.

Those who live and work in this area have shared their experiences with these magnificent creatures of the sea.  Pictures speak much louder than anything I could say about them.

The Pacific Northwest Whales:



The Rare Fin Whale

These magnificent beasts deserve consideration when we make plans to put their habitat at risk of a crude oil spill. Is there another option?

We must reinvent a future free of blinders so that we can choose from real options. David Suzuki



The National Energy Board Hearings

One of the most compelling aspects of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline (NGP) application is the public input piece. Done correctly, this “open, fair and transparent process” could go a long way to re-establish trust in government. 

The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge NGP is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel will assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act.

The three member panel is saying all the right things: “Our job is to make sure that everyone who wants to talk to us about this project has an opportunity to be heard. We personally read and listen to all the information that's on the public record. This is the only information that we use when we reach our decisions. That's why it's so important that people become involved in this process."

It is here where the voices of Canadians, whose lives will be directly affected by the NGP are heard. Many of the voices are those of Canada’s First Nations. I have learned more about their history, culture, and daily lives listening to this testimony than from any curriculum, documentary, book, or newspaper.

It has become clear that the NGP is a symbol for the tension between two things Canadians value. There is a reason why Tim Horton’s commercials show kids on outdoor ice rinks in rural Canada, Toyota sells Hybrids driving through the forest, and we all long to travel to Newfoundland. Canadians have rocks, trees, nature, lakes, rivers in our blood. We are also as addicted to our cars and the mobility they give us as the rest of the world. We have now reached a time when these two values are in direct conflict. I’m sure Enbridge never saw it coming but the NGP has become the lightening rod for multiple complex modern dilemmas.

Hopefully, the Panel will take their concerns as seriously as all other stakeholders in the project. Failure to do so will force compliant Canadians few options for fighting the pipeline. We do value peace, order and good governance, but if the governance is perceived as not good, peace and order will not fall into place.

The decision we need to reach is whether or not this project is in the Canadian public interest. That means that we're asking ourselves whether or not Canadians would be better off with or without this project. Safety and protecting the environment are the top two goals of the National Energy Board.

The key question we need to debate is whether Canadians will be better off with or without this project.  How does one define “better off?” Will all Canadians be better off? What are the "Terms of Reference" for defining 'better off'?


The Business Piece for Pipelines

 Two of Canada’s most powerful energy companies, Kinder Morgan (KMP-N85.50-0.20-0.23%) and Enbridge (ENB-T37.84-0.16-0.42%) are laying competing plans to pipe and ship massive volumes of crude to Asia. Their projects could, for the first time, free the Canadian energy industry from its dependence on the U.S. market while at the same time fattening profit margins.

Enbridge like any other corporation has a vision: we want to be the leading energy delivery company in North America. We deliver energy and we deliver value to shareholders.This is reflected in our growing portfolio of oils sands pipeline projects…to diversify and sustain growth in the longer term in order to maintain Enbridge’s historical growth rate.

And they continue to grow. For the last 10 years Enbridge shareholders have enjoyed increased dividends year after year. Same for Kinder Morgan. If you own this stock, you have received an increase in dividend value year after year. This is the twelfth consecutive year the Board of Directors has raised the dividend. Pretty amazing considering the economic turmoil we've been experiencing.How do they do it? A company with rising gross and operating margins often fuels its growth by increasing demand for its products. If it sells more units while keeping costs in check, its profitability increases.I guess that means more and more pipelines.

Who buys the crude in the pipelines flowing out of Alberta now? Some makes its way to a few Canadian refineries, less gets to the Port of Vancouver and is shipped to Asia but most goes to the US for refining for their use or onto the world market (via the Gulf).

There is a short term glut of oil heading toward Cushing, Oklahoma which is a hub for oil activities. The glut has occurred because the market is being flooded with Bakken shale oil, rapid expansion of the oil sands, and the shut down of some pipelines and refineries. At the same time North American demand for oil is dropping, while Asian demand is rising even faster.  Asia demand will be there for a long, long time.

How could they anticipate the 2008 meltdown,the end of the Iraq war, or refinery shutdowns?  Any good business has 5, 10, even 15 year strategic plans. Oil companies have planned badly and created the sudden need to get their product to Asia.

Well, it is the job of business to anticipate all kinds of scenarios. If they don't they soon find themselves out of business.This has played out in the solar industry, as prices for panels, cells, etc. have plummeted more than 50% in the past five years due to a number of unplanned for scenarios. Solar companies are going belly up faster than the fish in the Kalamazoo River did after the recent spill there. But that doesn't happen to oil companies. Business continues unabated, shareholder value increases, the subsidies roll on, executives receive their bonuses, lobbyist continue to lobby, and governments defend them.

Why continue to flood the market with oil sands products when there is a glut? Instead of doing the logical thing and slowing things down they cast there eyes to oil hungry Asia and come up with what any average person would consider a crazy scheme to disregard history (First Nations rights to their lands), disregard the fragile BC rainforest,the commercial fisheries, disregard a moritorium on tanker traffic, and disregard the possibility of shipping oil to Eastern Canada to deal with a short term problem. Apparently our reliance on the oil economy means that any slow down will have serious consequences.

How many pipelines is too many pipelines?

A few years ago the names TransCanada, Kinder Morgan and Enbridge would not have meant much to most North Americans. Where Middle Eastern Wars, high oil prices, economic collapse, devastating oil spills (Exxon Valdez, Gulf of Mexico) failed to stir more than water cooler conversation with your average citizen, recently proposed pipelines have ignited a fuse that will not be stomped out.

Pipelines are not at all like the "canary in a coal mine". Afterall, most of us don't have close relations with canaries and we have never set foot in a coal mine. But pipes, we are all very familiar with. If your're living under a roof, you eventually become intimately acquainted with pipes, usually pipes that have burst, leaked, frozen, or cracked and left you with a mess. So when there is talk about pipelines, we intuitively know that things go wrong.Telling us anything different just won't cut it.

Pipeline companies appear to have not taken this natural defensiveness seriously enough, because ultimately this is where the battle about bitumen will happen.

After the Keystone XL rejection?/delay, pipeline companies are battling back. They have a big task ahead of them. The fact that pipelines have been around for a very long time, means there is lots of evidence regarding the behaviour of pipeline companies. Take a look at their websites and witness the worst kind of soothing, father knows best, drivel about how much they care. Then go to YouTube and search pipelines. Actions speak louder than words and there is no industry that suffers from a more complete disconnect here than the oil industry.

Enbridge's Values

We operate with integrity, honesty and transparency in all of our dealings with stakeholders. We operate to the highest ethical standards with our customers, shareholders, employees, partners, landowners, regulators and others. We communicate openly and honestly.





Pipe Dreams or Pipe Lying?

O Canada, our true patriot love is really being put to the test.

The Northern Gateway Pipeline Hearings have now started and my head already hurts. Canadians are getting bombarded with rhetoric that is divisive, dismissive and downright frightening. When Minister Oliver said: “We can’t let unlawful people oppose lawful development,” he’s really engaging in the lowest form of political doublespeak. “unlawful people”? Quick, hand me a copy of 1984.

I’m surprised no-one has been called a terrorist yet. For some reason our PM is very concerned about “foreign money” and influence (as if Canada hasn’t benefitted hugely from both). We definitely want foreign money in Canada, check out  "Invest in Canada" for more on that.

Enbridge has their lawyers at the ready. Environmentalists, many 1st Nations and others are clearly stating their opposition. Visions of all that riot gear used during the G20 protest keep coming to mind.

I like facts. I like solid data. I like history. I like hearing from the trenches. If our government and the oil industry has any respect for Canadians they should respond to this list of concerns immediately.

1. Safety

Why not immediately institute a program where industry workers who witness safety problems or violations in any and all areas of work are given a bonus and recognized for helping the company be more responsible. That sounds like a serious commitment to CSR. Quite the opposite is done when people with integrity are called “whistleblowers” and end up fired or demoted like this pipeline engineer. Stop demonizing those who are trying to protect the communities affected by the industry. Calling award winning author Andrew Nikiforuk a lunatic just because he writes a book that reveals the problems of the industry does not help the situation. If I could trust that you were doing absolutely everything to encourage a culture of safety and protection I may not be so interested in fighting you on building yet another pipeline.

2. Safety (yes, a second point is necessary!)

Do not obfuscate your own history of leaks and/or other pipeline failures. Indicate that you will be fully responsible for funding any and all situations where your pipeline has failed and caused damage to communities or resources (land and water). No socializing the losses. As my mother was fond of saying: “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.”

3. Research

Show me that you care enough about Canada by spending as much money on researching, acknowledging, understanding, and reducing the damage extraction and production etc. causes, as you do, on a legal team. I suspect that there is more value in retaining 125 scientists as there is in paying 125 lawyers.

4. Job Creation

Outline clearly what kind of jobs will be created. How many are longterm permanent positions? How many shortterm permanent positions? Defend your numbers with facts. Compare this project to other projects of similar size and scope.

Canada may have oil resources equal to those of Saudi Arabia but we certainly cannot develop that resource in the same manner that they have. After all our oil is ethical and theirs isn’t…right?