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Higher Alberta Levies Threaten Oil Sands Pipeline Plans

Hyun Young Lee, Dow Jones Newswire
Raising Alberta’s oil and gas royalty rates could threaten at least C$15 billion in proposed oil sands pipelines, as producers delay or cancel projects to develop the resource, a report said late Tuesday.

Calgary-based brokerage First Energy Capital added that higher royalties also would speed up the decline in conventional oil production, as well as stymieing efforts to develop carbon sequestration in the province.

Last month, a government-appointed panel recommended increasing Alberta’s annual take from oil and gas revenues by a fifth or C$2 billion, which sparked a barrage of criticism from energy executives and analysts.

…Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the industry could also suffer. Conventional oil producers have started injecting carbon dioxide into reservoirs to increase oil recovery but investment here could be cut short, Paget said.
(17 October 2007)
Note that the report comes from an energy broker. Interesting argument – need to keep taxes low on oil producers to help prevent peak oil and global warming. -BA

Tar Sands and the American Automobile

Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi, The Dominion (“News from the grassroots”)
Heavy crude largely heads south to fuel American cars
A traffic jam during shift change, near Fort McMurray. The tar sands will primarily fuel North America’s vast fleet of cars. Photo: Dru Oja Jay

The following is an edited excerpt from a forthcoming book by Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, tentatively titled Stop Signs: A road trip through the USA to explore the culture, politics and economics of the car.

Across the globe, sprawling auto-dependent development is pushing oil extraction into increasingly sensitive environments. Far from the “light sweet crude” of the Niger Delta, the heavy oil trapped in Alberta’s tar sands is among the filthiest sources in the world; with up to three-quarters of the final product destined for the US market, tar sands oil extraction has been labelled the most destructive process known to mankind. Viewed from above, the tar sands are as picturesque as a pair of dirty lungs and the stench of gasoline can be smelled for miles. Amid a tangle of pipes, waste ponds and smoke, an environmental demolition derby of 50 ft, 300-tonne monster trucks roam a wasteland riddled with 200-foot-deep open pits. Gouged out with dinosaur-sized claws, Athabascan oil is mined, not pumped.

Describing the tar sands as “hideous marvels,” Globe and Mail columnist, Jeffrey Simpson writes: “They are terrible to look at, from the air or from the ground. They tear the earth, create polluted mini-lakes called tailing ponds that can be seen from space, spew forth air pollutants such as sulfur-dioxide a
(18 October 2007)

US Coal Plant Plans Scrapped, Delayed

Matthew Brown, Associated Press
BILLINGS, Mont. – At least 16 coal-fired power plant proposals nationwide have been scrapped in recent months and more than three dozen have been delayed as utilities face increasing pressure due to concerns over global warming and rising construction costs.

The slow pace of new plant construction reflects a dramatic change in fortune for a fuel source that just a few years ago was poised for a major resurgence. Combined, the canceled and delayed projects represent enough electricity to power approximately 20 million homes.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s latest tally of pending coal plants, released last week, shows eight projects totaling 7,000 megawatts have been canceled since May. That’s besides the cancellation earlier this year of eight plants in Texas totaling 6,864 megawatts. Utilities have also pushed back construction on another 32,000 megawatts worth of projects, according to the Energy Department report.
(17 October 2007)