The leftists must be furious; Hillary Clinton has issued the Presidential Permit on August 20, 2009 that Enbridge needs to ship Canadian oil sand’s upgraded crude into the U.S.  With a war under way over public perceptions packed with dis and misinformation swirling about, this news must stick in the shouting throats.  This writer is very happy about that.

Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper Project requires a crossing of the US-Canadian border making a Presidential Permit necessary from the State Department for the project to proceed. Environmental groups have been pressuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to reject the permit based on the greenhouse gas and other environmental tolls taken by oil sands production.

Regular readers will recall that the API provided a tour to such behemoths of reason from the blogosphere including yours truly, Gail the Actuary over at the Oildrum and the sometimes blogging always researching and regularly newslettering Byron King. The links hook to these writers’ latest posts.  We all can be classified as realizing that the access to the Canadian oil sands is good for Albertans, Canadians and Americans.  If the Albertan oil industry gets it way, the supply could reach 40% of the U.S.’ demand.

Depending on how the oil equivalent calculation is done, up to 7 times the supply of Saudi Arabia reserves is up there in the Canadian basin.  All this comes to show the grave importance of the Department of State getting the permit out.  Congratulations, DOS.

It hasn’t been simple getting here. The oil sands are barely economic at $50 a barrel.  The need for personnel is higher than conventional oil recovery, the skills needed are higher, and the capital required is dramatically more.  The flip side is that where the extraction takes place, allowing for the inability to reach everywhere under ground, can be has high as 60% with today’s technology for the in site recovery and nearly 100% when mined or quarried.  The product is well worth having and the pricing while seemingly high today will seem cheap in the coming years.

The permit enables construction of the Alberta Clipper pipeline for the transport of crude oil from the Canadian oil sands to US refineries within the arc seen in the following map.  The energy security issue has a firmed up answer within the region, now.  The U.S. gulf coast enjoys a captive supply of Gulf of Mexico petroleum, both oil and gas.  That leaves the two coasts as vulnerable to the machination of others in exporting and ocean transport.

Enbridge Pipeline Map. Click image for more.

Enbridge Pipeline Map. Click image for more.

The inhabitants of North America are much more energy secure than on August 19, 2009.

The 1,000-mile or1,607-km pipeline will run from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wisconsin. Construction in the U.S. will consist of two components that would have independent uses. First, the Alberta Clipper Pipeline itself and second the Southern Lights Diluent Pipeline.

The 36-inch Alberta Clipper Pipeline will extend 326 miles from the US-Canadian border near Neche, North Dakota across northern Minnesota to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin carrying up to 450,000 barrels of oil sands crude per day, with ultimate capacity of up to 800,000 bpd available from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Canada to refineries in the US.

The Southern Lights Diluent Project will consist of a new 20-inch pipeline extending 191 miles from Superior, Wisconsin to an Enbridge terminal in Clearbrook, Minnesota.  In U.S. territory these pipelines will be constructed at approximately the same time in the same right-of-way, and this right-of way is almost entirely located along an existing Enbridge pipeline right-of-way.  Very little new land use is involved.

The State Department has been delegated authority by Executive Order to receive applications for the construction, connection, operation and maintenance of facilities along the borders of the United States, including petroleum pipelines, and to issue or deny Presidential Permits for such facilities upon a National Interest Determination.  That is the key responsibility, answering the national interest.  While that should be the prime criteria, an application for a permit triggers an environmental review of the proposed project.

The State press release says, “The Department found that the addition of crude oil pipeline capacity between Canada and the United States will advance a number of strategic interests of the United States. These included increasing the diversity of available supplies among the United States’ worldwide crude oil sources in a time of considerable political tension in other major oil producing countries and regions; shortening the transportation pathway for crude oil supplies; and increasing crude oil supplies from a major non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries producer. Canada is a stable and reliable ally and trading partner of the United States, with which we have free trade agreements which augment the security of this energy supply.”

“Approval of the permit sends a positive economic signal, in a difficult economic period, about the future reliability and availability of a portion of United States’ energy imports, and in the immediate term, this shovel-ready project will provide construction jobs for workers in the United States.”

State’s comments are salient but leave out that the Canadian and U.S. economies are joined from the knee to the ear.  Canada is by far the U.S.’ largest trading partner as we are for them.  Most everything that happens in either country affects all of us.

With all the shattering destruction proposals coming from Washington D.C. now in the grip of the leftists across the economy from health care to banking and automobiles, Clinton’s State Department is one last light of good sense and hope that moderate or centrist democrats can rein in the extremists off in the land of centralized controls.

It’s a good thing when a Democrat uses their office to “get out of the way” so that industry can get on conducting, growing and securing the economy.  We need low cost energy to free capital for discovering how to harvest energy in new ways and develop the fuels of the future.


8 Comments so far

  1. Al Fin on August 28, 2009 9:05 AM

    Salazar and Holdren must be furious! Not to mention Barack. Imagine Hillary Clinton signing a presidential decree!

    Leftists are blowing up gas pipelines in the northwest. I suspect they will target the oil sands pipelines as well.

    I wonder if these pipeline saboteurs are being partially funded from Venezuela, Iran, or Russia? Or even the White House?

  2. MattMusson on August 30, 2009 12:50 PM

    I don’t think we need external agitators. We have plenty of home grown crazies here in the USA.

    Personally, I am not ready to drink the Kool-aid for anyone.

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