A fake “personal note” said their local tour guide in Prague says he learns in school about how “Alberta is the only place you can buy ethical oil”.
“Ethical oil” is a poorly executed front for oil producers. They specialize in demonizing foreigners while hiding their ties to oil. Their sole goal is spreading disinformation on oil sands, climate change and where Canada gets its oil. They try to look like a grassroots movement, but are actually astroturf. See also: their “an open letter to Albertans” scam.
The US is the world’s biggest supplier of oil, so why would ‘Prague’ consider Alberta as the only source? Norway, Scotland, etc. This alone should tell you this is fake news, not a ‘student’.
But let’s take it at face value for a thought experiment: how ethical is Alberta oil?
1) Most of Alberta’s conventional oil is exhausted, so really these guys are shilling for the tar sands, which are the dirtiest to produce and to burn than any other sources.
- Simply saying that production emissions have been lowered is a deliberate attempt to mislead and doesn’t change the fact they are still the worst.
- Claiming that ‘they are a fraction’ is also an attempt to deceive. C02 is cumulative, so Canada’s share is actually much larger, as we’ve been cranking longer. We’re also 7th worst of the industrialized countries, so, like, yay…
2) Abandoning oil cleanup commitments is not very ethical.
- Well north of $50B taxpayer money is required to cleanup existing abandoned wells, and $100B or more for the tar sands.
- Oil companies have walked away from their obligations.
- Tar sands are touted as ‘clean’ yet somehow have over one trillion liters of toxic waste ponds and no plan to deal with them!
“Despite years of public promises from officials that the tailings ponds would shrink and go away, they are growing. And in the meantime, troubling gaps are opening in the oversight system meant to ensure the oilpatch cleans up its mess. Alberta has collected only $1 billion from companies to help remediate tailings — a problem that is now estimated to cost about 100 times that.”
3) Unethical oil companies are refusing to pay their taxes, hurting small towns across Alberta. The amount owed has doubled over the past year, to $173M.
4) And how big a problem is Canada buying foreign oil anyways?
- Canada buys light, sweet crude from outside the country, as most Eastern refineries are not setup to process bitumen from the tar sands. With peak oil in ten years, and a terrible market right now, it just doesn’t make sense to spend over 5 years and $15B to $20B on upgrades and pipelines just in time for the market to start shrinking. Alberta’s bitumen will be the first hit in that shrinking market, as bitumen is more expensive to produce, to ship, and to process.
- 54% from the US, and 11% from Saudi Arabia. Why doesn’t ‘ethical oil’ complain about the US? Because they are harder to demonize than Arabs…
- Canada has imported less oil each year for over a decade, except a spike in 2015.
- Quebec, which can process bitumen, gets 44% of its oil from Alberta (via pipeline 9).
They are really just trying to get federal funding for a pipeline to a coast to try and reach the overseas oil market by making people angry about ‘them dirty foreigners’ because they can’t make a business case.
The harsh reality for Alberta is that the expensive, high-polluting tar sands projects are no longer a solid long-term investment. Funds like Blackrock ($7 Trillion) no longer invest in oil, so even if the oil market was good, capital investment would still be hard to find. Tar sands projects in particular are vulnerable; they are not very profitable without $90/barrel prices. Today’s oil price? $31/barrel!