What You Need To Know About The BC Alberta Pipeline

Understanding the BC Alberta pipeline

The pipeline proposal has long been a contentious issue in western Canada. Alberta wants to ship its oil to Asian markets, but in order to do that it needs access to the Pacific Ocean via British Columbia. Until last week the two provinces were unable to come up with an agreed agenda to execute this plan – but a framework has now been agreed upon, moving one step closer to building the pipeline that would carry Canadian oil from the Alberta to the BC coast.

BC Residents Oppose The Proposal

While this framework does not indicate any specific project, reaction to energy companies’ plans, such as Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project, have been mixed. BC residents are opposed to it for a number of reasons, including the environmental impact, the infringement on the rights of aboriginal people and the unclear economic benefit they would see from Alberta oil flowing through their province. Here’s how the framework stands so far and what we can expect in the near future.

Five Conditions To Move Forward

BC’s Premiere Christy Clark is insisting Albert agree on its demands in order for British Colombians to feel comfortable with such a landmark project. Clark wants:

  1. A successfully completed environmental review process
  2. World leading oil spill response
  3. World leading land oil spill response
  4. Aboriginal treaty rights assessed.
  5.  BC’s fair share of the economic benefit.

Opponents to the pipeline argue that many of these demands are impossible to meet. This includes installing a world-class response team in the case of an oil spill on land or water. Critics say the two provinces don’t have the resources to have a proper response team in place.

Alberta’s Economic Benefit

For Alberta Premier Alison Redford, a pipeline to sell oil to the outside world is a winning situation. Alberta has the oil supply to meet the world’s growing demand. The website dedicated to the Northern Gateway Pipeline claims Canada would see a $270-billion boost to its GDP over the next 30 years, create more than a 1000 long term jobs and further Canada as an oil exporting nation.  It also claims it will bring $400 million in employment and contracts for Aboriginal communities and businesses and $4.3 billion of labour-related income across Canada during construction.  Governments will benefit from $2.6 billion in local, provincial and federal government tax revenues.

How Much Would It Cost To Build?

As mentioned, the agreed-upon framework does not take any single project into account, but most prevalent to the public eye is the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project. It would be a 1,777 km pipeline stretching from the Alberta oil sands to the west coast with the capacity to transport 525,000 barrels of oil per day. The pipeline could be in operation for 60 years exporting oil to Asia and parts of the U.S. that were unavailable to Canada’s oil market before.

So – Should We Be Pro BC Alberta Pipeline?

It’s always a good idea to consider a project that could have a net benefit to the Canadian economy. But, like the Keystone pipeline, this one is also very controversial. It won’t necessary have any impact on the day-to-day costs for Canadians, but it will open up decades of viable trading of our resources to the rest of the world. This could mean more foreign money in Canada and revenue for the governments at all levels to fund infrastructure and R&D initiatives. A pipeline though BC would connect Canadian oil sands to many Pacific Rim countries that have a large demand for oil This is a market that is yet untapped for Canada.


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