Gassing Up

Mackenzie Gas Project as trigger for Alberta tar sands expansion

As huge as it is, the Mackenzie Gas Project is just a first phase in the industrialization of the Mackenzie Valley. Dozens of significant discoveries of gas and oil await the pipeline’s completion. Another proposed pipeline, the Northcentral Crossing Project, would connect the southern terminus of the Mackenzie pipeline to Fort McMurray, allowing Mackenzie gas to flow across northern Alberta to fuel expansion of tar sands developments. Mackenzie gas would then be burned to produce hot water and steam to separate oil from the tar.

Increasing oil exports from tar sands is industry objective

The overriding objective for oil companies is to quadruple or quintuple oil production by 2030 from the Alberta tar sands for shipment to southern Canada and the United States. Three new pipelines are being planned to export oil from the tar sands: the first from Edmonton to Prince Rupert through Jasper National Park; the second from Edmonton to Vancouver through Jasper National Park; and the third from Alberta south to the U.S. mid-west.

Canada unlikely to meet Kyoto targets if tar sands expansions proceed

Extracting and refining oil from tar requires massive amounts of natural gas. Tar sands oil produces two-and-a-half times as many greenhouse gases as conventional oil production, making it the world’s most harmful type of oil for the atmosphere. Tar sands projects are projected to be the largest single addition to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions producing 70 megatonnes by 2010 –12 per cent of Canada’s Kyoto target for that year.

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