Never has the issue of how to transport Canadian energy been more in the spotlight than it is today. However, we all need to look past the headlines and examine the facts.
Rail or pipeline? As with all things, we need to diversify.
Fact is, rail transport of our oil is set to quadruple by the end of this year. That’s a lot of energy being shunted around – energy that could be delivered more efficiently by pipeline. And it’s all due to get even busier because Canadian production is poised to increase by more than 1.5 million barrels a day — roughly 50 per cent more, by 2020.
Vancouver-based think tank The Fraser Institute recently published a study that concluded pipelines remain the safest way to transport energy. Not only are the volumes higher than by rail, the research also found that pipeline leaks are barely one-tenth those of rail transport. On a per ton-miles basis, rail spills were four times more likely in the U.S. than pipeline.
Of course, these findings are timely considering tragic derailments on both sides of the border, the aforementioned recent escalation in energy being transported by rail, and the political opposition to major pipeline projects such as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway.
And yet, this doesn’t mean pipelines should be built without thought or concern, crisscrossing our landscapes. As with all things, we need balance – a rational discussion of facts that will optimize safety, environment and prosperity. Let’s recognize the safety argument with regard to pipelines as the scare tactic it truly is. Let’s also acknowledge there’s no perfect answer. One thing is certain: it requires true collaboration to get the solutions we all need and deserve.
Let us know your thoughts on this issue in the comments section provided below.