Apocalypse Soon? Canada's "Fuelling Fortress America" While Running Out of Energy
Today's Winnipeg Free Press contains a timely editorial by Fraces Russell, who calls the state of Canada's energy and environmental policy directions a "political scandal" at every level of government.
"Canada has less than 10 years of proven conventional oil reserves left, Statistics Canada reports. In 2004, our oil production averaged 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd). We exported 1.6 million bpd to the U.S., requiring us to import some 963,000 bpd to meet our domestic demand of 1.75 million bpd. Canada has only 8.7 years of domestic natural gas supply remaining, also according to StatsCan. We produce 17 billion cubic feet per day (bcf) and export 9.7 bcf to the U.S., leaving us with less than half, 7.3 bcf. Even the ever-optimistic and industry-serving National Energy Board now admits Canada's natural gas situation is 'unsettling.'
"Exploitation of Alberta's Athabasca tar sands, chiefly to serve the U.S. market, is now Canada's Job One. But every barrel of tar sands oil requires 1,000 to 2,000 cubic feet of natural gas and from three to six barrels of water. By comparison, an average Canadian home burns 9,000 cf of natural gas per month in winter. In full production, Fort McMurray's tar sands plants will demand an additional 175 million litres of water per day above the 138 billion litres a year already allocated.
What happens when -- and it is when, not if -- Canada, a cold country, reaches a domestic supply crunch sometime in the next decade? Thanks to the proportional sharing clause contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement, we can't turn off the tap on either oil or gas. We can't even turn it down. We will have to go short ourselves."
She supports her arguments with links to a report from the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute, the Polaris Institute of Ottawa and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, called Fuelling Fortress America. According to this report,
"Most of the oil to be taken from the tar sands will go to the United States. In effect, the Athabasca deposits will be the centrepiece of a new continental energy grid. Its main purpose will be to provide a secure supply of fuel for the American industrial and military machines. Canadians are already paying a steep price for feeding the voracious American addiction to the dwindling world reserves of oil and gas.
Given that the rapidly increasing exports of Canada ’s oil and gas to the U.S. puts our own energy security as a nation in jeopardy; that Canada, despite being a petroleum-producing country, is already forced to import nearly half of the oil its people need; that Canada has less than a 10-year supply of conventional oil and natural gas remaining; that most of the tar sands oil is earmarked for export to the U.S., and most of the natural gas from the North is also intended for the U.S. market or to fuel extraction of the tar sands crude — the continuation of current energy policies is clearly not in the national interest."