Lest there be any doubt as to the attitude of the Canadian Government towards the recent unrest in Venezuela, we have this from Embassy News last week:
“Canada has a major role to play in the region. The efforts to expand the scope of opportunities for Canadian investments in Latin America must be accompanied by high standards for the respect of fundamental human rights, the rule of law and democratic rights in the region. The time has come for Canada to take a leadership role in Latin America and promote effective mechanisms for the protection of democratic values.”
This statement, tucked into the middle of a repetition of the corporate media’s worst distortions on Venezuela (“Brown Shirts,” anyone?), was written by a man who also celebrated and lauded the appointment of Ben Rowswell as Canada’s ambassador to Venezuela in the midst of a disruption campaign.
If the US military is to operate in a world of peak oil but expanding temporary access, using oil as a weapon needs to be available. It is here in general– and with regard to pipelines in particular– the
strategic importance of Canada’s tar sands to possible Western imperialist strategies of confrontation with either Venezuela or Russia going ahead. It may be of geopolitical significance. It wouldn’t be the first time– but it may indeed be the largest chip yet.
Building up tar sands infrastructure to provide flexibility in trying to achieve a military full-spectrum dominance. That’s the plan, by accident or design. That is either a really lucky by-product or not, but either way it makes the desire of the Harper administration to use all foreign affairs posts to promote tar sands clear. It further shows why doubling tar sands production may be even worse in terms of “collateral damage” than we previously realized. But there are other destructive products of all this still unmentioned.
The Energy East pipeline appears to be blitzing its way through regulatory hurdles, and is intent on making the expansion of tar sands happen through “facts on the ground.” But is doubling tar sands, as a climate campaigner, as bad as it sounds? No, it is several times worse.
The tar sands are composed only of 20% mine-ready shallow deposits, almost exclusively in the Athabasca region near the famous epicenter of Suncor and Syncrude currently. 80% of the tar sands judged “recoverable” exist in in-situ leases and potential leases– scattered across four regions of bitumen in Alberta (as well as Saskatchewan).
Tar sands in-situ leases like to lay claim to being better at water recovery, but in the vast majority of cases water use is projected at a lower rate– sometimes multiple factors in difference– than is actually used. Put simply: They use more water than they say they are going to, and after constructing the plant, they always get access to larger quantities.
On average, tar sands in-situ plants use three times the energy to produce synthetic oil than sourced from a giant strip mine; the strip mines on average use three times the energy as conventional oil. Then we need to add variables: As with all industrial recovery of a geological resource, the easy stuff is taken first. The areas that will grow are more dubious, and will come on line as replacements for mines that become exhausted over time.
In certain plants, water needs were estimated at reasonably comparable levels to existing operations elsewhere, such as at Shell’s Peace River plant, that on occasion has used as much as over a dozen barrels of water to achieve one barrel of mock oil.
The Long Lake Plant, bought with the buyout of Israeli-sourced Opti and Canadian Nexen into the twin properties of CNOOC from China, uses Israeli derived “Or Crude” tech to separate and burn “asphaltenes” in a coal like manner to produce energy on site. The entire operation has already required (after applications were approved that promised the opposite) water use from the Clearwater River near the indigenous community of Anzac, and where it flows through Fort McMurray northwards after.
This is just a proverbial tip of the iceberg. The fact is that given most increases in over-all tar sand production will come from in-situ, and were in-situ to be the primary source of tar sands mock oil pumped through Energy East and the revamped other pipelines? We could end up with a four-fold increase in climate changing emissions, not “merely” doubling, from tar sands alone.
For the United States and Canada to double down on overthrowing the Bolivarian Revolution means having a contingency for the roughly 10% of US daily supply that still comes from Venezuela today. The impossibility of this has been at least a significant factor in preventing overt action against Venezuela for 15 years–instead relying on covert coup, economic disruption and/or sabotage to chip away. It appears that the farthest right in Venezuela’s storied opposition has decided to go for broke, causing disruptions and hoping for a joint Colombian-CIA attack to finish the job.
In order for this to work, Canadian arguments for tar sands pipelines such as KXL become far stronger for the imperialist ear. Enbridge’s Gateway and other means of piping tar sands bitumen to the Pacific Coast also are attractive for the same reason– The tankers could terminate in California, providing US refineries with the needed supplies for jet fuel in the largest single consumer of carbon emissions on the planet: The US military.
The arguments for the Orwellian “Ethical Oil” advocates have always relied on ignorance around the government in Venezuela, and have countered that KXL and Canadian bitumen would be replacing Venezuela’s oil supply to Texas and Louisiana– but given Canadian and American moves towards Venezuela, building a pipeline to an alternative supply might not just be horribly bad ecology approved for the sake of business, but in fact infrastructure for a possible means to use oil to attempt to subvert Venezuela’s elected government by ever deeper force.
In the case of the War on Iraq, the invasion of that country unleashed the tar sands Weapon of Mass Destruction on the atmosphere as well. The skyrocketing price of oil resulting in the first place from the Iraq War (followed by Hurricane Katrina) has stabilized to become “the new normal”; Today, drops in the price of oil per barrel are known to be temporary. But tar sands, while not anywhere near as efficient on producing gasoline for a civilian car, produces jet fuel very well indeed.
The end game here, of course, is that the only tar sands belt larger than the Athabasca region on the planet is the Orinoco in Venezuela– that region currently is not at the service of the same North American capital interests as the tar sands in Canada. The plan, in an overly simplistic but broad stroke, may be to use one tar sands deposit for supply to get control of the other, and cook the future for all in the process.
The crash investments into the Athabasca tar sands that followed were a result of the war crimes committed on the people of Iraq; Today, the infrastructure of the tar sands may be facilitating future wars on Russia, Venezuela, Syria or elsewhere.
In order for Western interests to strangulate Russia, or even to attempt it, the supplies coming from Russia’s energy pool must be accounted for. To offset disruptions to Russia with as few to the “punishing body”– the nations who impose sanctions–officially or otherwise.
The climate justice movement must involve anti-imperialist thinking and a recognition that what we see as defending the liability of the planet, protecting eco-systems and more is not seen in the negative light as a mere giant money making black hole alone–but it is far more perverse than that: The tar sands are, like Saudi Arabia in 1991, the backup source of jet fuel, hydrocarbon energy and the ability to ride out the coming supply glut as imperial leaders hone in on the next war.
When people speak of climate but block these pipelines, we are also slowing down the ability of North American military assaults on independent countries. This is true objectively– let us proudly proclaim it. War, with the precision of destruction now provided by it, is a greater source of ecological destruction than even the Tar Sands Gigaproject– the largest and most destructive industrial development in the history of humanity. We proudly stand against both war for oil and oil for war.
That industry is working towards a goal of doubling tar sands is not news, but the convergence of future imperial plans–plans that benefit big oil and gas–at a time of rapidly escalating climate change could be frightening. Or, perhaps, it can play as an opportunity for movements to unite to defeat those in charge of the whole system–because these wars and the war on the earth that is tar sands development– are coming from the same boardrooms.
All solutions that are looking to adhere to the same system that is producing this crisis do not, as an end goal, seek to remove the power of those who seek to sacrifice a livable planet for the sake of corporate power. This same power seeks to extend itself through further military escalations that intersect the social justice movements to prevent imperial war and climate destruction. The need for an anti-imperialist and confrontational climate justice movement is now, waiting, at the crossroads of climate chaos and resistance to war.
Certain quotes need repeating, even at the risk of making them cliché. Utah Philips gave us one such gem: “The earth is not dying, it is being killed. And the people killing it have names and addresses!” I ask the question: Do we smirk alone at the correctness of the statement, or do we start collecting some names and addresses?
Doubling Tar Sands Production for Imperial War | Tar Sands World