Perhaps, I thought, pipelines are just the thing our culture wants, only we just don’t know it! Pipelines are the locally crafted conveyer of the most organic product in earth! Lets not forget, oil is natures compost; sweet crude compost! In an effort to be sustainable, and not waste any of this organic fuel, billions have been spent to extract every drop from the ground as efficiently as possible and in some truly innovative ways; be it steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), multi stage fracturing or an array of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods. All told, there have been a variety of developed means to ensure that the oil industry is being responsible to the environment and respectful of the resource. Surely, one wouldn’t harvest a bovine for only one T-bone steak! No, you use the entire animal, as that is just common sense responsible; the oil and gas sector is the same.
Perhaps a name change is in order, the Organic Fluids Recovery Stewards, now that has a more appealing ring to it. Wouldn’t that look good on an organic bamboo t-shirt? And what about the conveyor itself? The pipeline (even typing pipeline now I feel like I am saying a bad word), the term that raises the hairs on the necks of every ill-informed basket weaving PhD who spends their day sputtering out a regurgitated blog about the new evil force our world faces, the ominous unpredictable PIPELINE! But wait! What about the local artisans who crafted this important part of the world’s economic engine, the ones whose work is buried in the earth in the remote regions of our country never to be seen again. The person who carved you that traditional, local driftwood art gets to sell it at the next craft fair without picketers demanding he stop removing the wood from the beach. When it comes to developing a craft whether its wood carving, painting, glass blowing or…welding, it takes years of practice to hone your craft and produce quality results that stand the test of time. The artists that substitute paint and brush for rod and flux are called welders and they painstakingly melt steel with fire to create a new metallurgical bond that did not exist before. Like a painter, each welder has his own style and character in his work that thus produces a unique piece of art one joint at a time. Each joint is x-rayed for quality and then buried. No sign is hung on the weld stating “crafted by local artisan” no organic gluten free field berry muffins are served with the display to entice onlookers to come and inspect the intricacy of his skill. In the pipeline industry, there is no time to marvel at the art he or she has created because our world needs energy quickly. As most people have grown accustomed to a prevalence of ultra accessible energy, the organic oil or gas soon to flow through this art installation needs to get to that relatively impatient wood carver so he can power his workshop, fuel his Westfalia and wash his poncho (eventually).
Alberta and Canada are at a cross roads, we can either build pipelines to tidewaters and get our product to a demanding market or, we can cower behind fear and ignorance and deliver a blow to our economy and well being by not approving pipelines. The fact is that when oil comes out of the ground it can not go straight into your car, it needs to be refined, and we don’t refine oil, we produce it, thus we need to send it to countries that do our refining in an economical way. By blockading the development of pipeline projects we are effectively shutting our doors, no more sales, in other words, and no table at the craft fair. When politicians say they are against the transportation of unprocessed bitumen, they are saying they don’t want to sell our oil, because it’s all unprocessed!
Fear is a powerful thing but not as powerful as ignorance. Ignorance has the capacity to mobilize entire people groups to make irrational claims and act on a whim without a single thought about the larger picture. Ignorance hears the word pipeline and says “no”. But why? Because someone breezed through a twitter feed on the terribleness of pipelines while riding the bus? Or because another person googled Keystone XL and clicked on the results from Greenpeace or the NDP? Knowledge is power, and when it comes to pipelines, the impact of having or not having them garnering a well-rounded factual understanding of what is being proposed is more powerful than ever. If we only cared as much about our country enough to research the proposed pipelines, compared with how much thought an effort we put into making sure we buy, locally sourced, crafted, organic and gluten free products then maybe we would find that pipelines are everything we are looking for from the energy sector.
So rather than investing time in determining if the chicken we are about to eat at the local, owner operated, bistro is free range, hand fed and had a good life, we should instead invest time investigating if the locally crafted transporter of organic fluids that is being proposed to help bolster our economy and increase our quality of life is being approved and if not, why? It symbolically checks all the same boxes that the free-range, hand fed chicken does.
– Adam Jones is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing/Partner for the NTL Group of Companies.