Sol Sanders | Follow the money No. 97 | A pipeline to …well, almost …eternity

rcwhalen's picture

A version of this column is scheduled for publication Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, in The Washington Times -- Chris

Follow the money No. 97 | A pipeline to …well, almost …eternity

 Sol Sanders

Camouflaged by Congressional political badminton and Pres. Barack Obama’s demagoguery, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project represents solutions to economic and security issues far exceeding its general appreciation.

Half truths on all sides have obscured the project’s underlying fundamentals. Some are only emerging as additional research and technology is applied – most of it, for a change, good news in that it boosts estimates of access to available North American new fossil fuels reserves even if at higher prices.

Contrary to claims of Congressional proponents, the project is not an immediate positive economic bonanza. Like all natural resource development projects, construction employment will be temporary and jobs minimal when the pipeline is actually functional. Of course, given the current environment, any new jobs of any duration not added to the public payroll -- the project is funded privately at something over $7 billion -- is a godsend.

 Its importance lies in its contribution to what should be a longer term U.S. energy strategy, a consideration often missing in heated partisan debate.

First of all, direct access to the Canadian tar sands affords fallback access for the almost bottomless U.S. energy maw – developing rapidly long- term whatever the short-term diminished demand of a temporarily crippled economy. Scandal after scandal is proving the Obama Administration’s so-called green energy strategy corrupt as well as wasteful and  ineffectual. Keystone, on the other hand, would put crude into the Texas petrochemical refinery complex already absorbing Venezuela’s similar heavier oil – those reserves recently reestimated upward with spectacular finds on the Orinoco River.

That would give the U.S. not only an emergency alternative to the Venezuelan crude, fourth largest of our import sources, but leverage against the machinations of gringo-baiting Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez. Given that country’s long troubled history, necessary insurance is needed even in a post-Chavez Venezuela [soon perhaps with reports the fiery demagogue may soon fall victim to cancer largely untreated so he could continue exercising his one-man rule].

The expanded pipeline proposal also now would pick up on its way the more attractive sweet crude from the Bakken strike in North Dakota, already one of the largest in U.S. history and apparently linked by new successful prospecting and new shale recovery technologies to huge neighboring regional deposits. With Bakken already having added an estimated 10% to American reserves, these could turn into the largest petroleum find in U.S. history.

As the pipeline travels south, it also aims at untangling a crude gathering traffic jam in Oklahoma and expanding the tanker delivery scene on the Texas coast.

But radical environmentalists had chosen – with the help of the usual Hollywood suspects assuaging their guilt for their gratuitously huge earnings – to make Keystone a major test. That was despite three years research by experts for the State Dept. had not turned up sufficient environmental issues to block the project. When local interests in Nebraska– ignoring the relatively clean record of the country’s vast pipeline networks – argued spills might threaten a critical local aquifer, the Canadian company countered with a $100-million-dollar detour around it.

Washington rumors are Sec. of State Hillary Clinton was not only not consulted but not forewarned when Pres. Obama, anticipating the 2011 election, threw a bouquet to enviromentalistas who had been increasingly jaundiced at his 2008 promises. But with even normally loyal trade unionists joining the outcry against the White House postponement to go ahead until after next year’s election, it was inevitable the issue would become a cudgel for the Republicans.

Canadian threats to transfer their affections to the Chinese market might have some validity – although even Chavez is arranging swaps with Iran for his Chinese sales with Venezuelan crude supposedly sold to Beijing flowing into Texas. But level-headed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – an economist and native of Canada’s provincial giant oilwell, Alberta– may have overestimated American common sense. [Recent hints suggest Ottawa feels it is dealing with an overburdened, troubled U.S. and has to demonstrate inordinate patience for both their sakes. One has to wonder what the two chief executives talk about in frequent and what appear to be pleasant meetings!] But, in fact, Canada’s role as No. 1 foreign energy supplier to the U.S.– something forgotten in much of the talk about “American energy independence”  – probably, rightfully, isn’t going away in the near future. The Republicans may be seeing to that.



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JOYFUL's picture

I gather that this article is to be read as a short story fiction entry?

level-headed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – an economist and native of Canada’s provincial giant oilwell, Alberta

Stephen Harper grew up in the western suburbs of Toronto, went to preppy Richview Collegiate, and then crawled his way up the  ladder to the top of the economist fraternity via a job in the mail room at an oil company office in Alberta. 

I'm not aware of Mr Harper having held any kind of job subsequently that wasn't of a political nature.  So now we finally know: an economist is somebody who avoids the private sector religiously and knows no more than the next guy about anything except getting ahead in the corporate-state kleptocraptic world. 

If this is the kind of "intelligence" that gets filed in Washington, no wonder foreign imbroglios have been the trade mark of successive US governments ever since Reagan.  Is Sol Sanders a retired CIA intelligence analyst cum science fiction writer?

ItsDanger's picture

Listen to him speak on different issues and compare to other politicians.  You might change your opinion.   Not saying that your comment isnt factually correct but its worthwhile to look beyond a resume.

JOYFUL's picture

I've listened to him speak far too often, and would rate his speaking style as just slightly less grating than chalk on a blackboard. 

As to substance, well I suppose you are lauding him from the angle of not requiring a teleprompter to appear in public?? Well comparisons with the current crop of international 'leaders' is a slippery slope....I seem to remember not too long ago him being caught reading almost verbatim the same speech as the Australian quisling puppet of the moment.  Since they all read what the Rothchilds foreign affairs dept directs them too, how the heck are we to suppose anything he says is an original idea>!?!?

Lord Koos's picture

"Radical environmentalists"?  What a crock of shit propganda piece this is... what, are you on the Koch brothers' payroll?  There are legitimate concerns about the contamination of the Ogallala Aquifer and the construction of this pipeline.  In the long run, water WILL be worth more than oil. The Ogallala water table supports the agriculture of Wyoming, S. Dakota, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas -- 27% of the irrigated land in the USA.  Oh yeah and people drink it too.

We've had 35 years to prepare for peak oil, and this is the best we can do... it's pathetic.  And even at this point, there is no serious national initiatve to conserve fossil fuels.

GNWT's picture


If we had taken all of the mopney from the Iraq and Afghan wars and spent it on giving solar/wind at whatever cost to any home that could use it effectively, we wouldh'a have to be in the middle east begging or waging war.

So, you are about to say, but it is not cost efficient.

If you add up the cost of the wars we fight, 9/11, etc., it is inexpensive.

You are not going to be energy independent with pipelines next to water supplies.

Oh, I know, they are safe.

So were Japanese nulcear plants.

Please get real, and stop with the Obama this and Republican that stuff, they are owned by the same masters.

Those masters are banks that have interest in oil speculating - GS - and oil companies.

Is that so nuanced that those of you who believe that oil companies are overregulated cannot see it?

And most of all, if you think the energy solution is going to come from smiliing geologists who tout fracking and the oil companies, got this Euro Bond here for sale.

Think out of the box please or you will die in one.

apberusdisvet's picture

"I will totally transform the United States of America"

(to a certifiable banana republic.)



SAT 800's picture

It is economically significant; pipeline building jobs are high paying jobs and it isn't going to get done in five minutes; Anyone who dithers to protect their voting profile from 15 hippies until the pipeline goes to BC for the Chinese should be tried for treason.

steelrules's picture

It ceases to amaze me how the province in Canada which now supplies nearly 3 million barrles of oil a day to the US has a 3 billion dollar deficit?

Some how some way the oil is being given away.

Forgiven's picture

They have this little thing up there in Alberta called, "socialism."  It tends to be like cancer anywhere it be found.  The province spends money like drunken irishman drinks double after double.

SAT 800's picture

Nobodies giving anything away. The subject is a little more complex than you imagine.

Lord Koos's picture

It's not complicated at all. Take resources from public lands, without letting the profits from said resources benefit the people of that region, while huge private profits are enjoyed. Destroy residents' environment as a bonus. Appalachian mining comes to mind.

I got the Bull by The Horns - HELP's picture

Fellow ZH's,

If you are relying on a Chinese internal bailout of its economy I would not hold your breath. The pump priming of the Chinese economy has gone astray.

An email from a contact in China:

"At this present time, I work as a Foreign Supervision Group 1 Leader, on a construction of a 40km (out of 60km) long section of High Speed Railway (HSR), between Hefei and Fuzhou in China.

There are problems here ranging from rampant corruption, to piss-poor quality of work, and even worse safety standards, and the government has almost stopped the funding to 90% of these projects, mainly because of it, and is trying to sort it all out. The Minister of Railways, and his deputies, were jailed last February for embezzling over 24 billion US $!!! Because of these uncertainties, and also other issues, I'll, most probably, be leaving China early next year, "
BigInJapan's picture

He won't be leaving after his minders figure out who exactly your friend is.

Mr. Fix's picture

This country is in desperate need of a safe and secure supply of oil.

 Which is exactly why Obama will never let that happen.

Lord Koos's picture

Yeah well we should have thought about that 30 years ago.  If we had been practicing conservation for the last 30 years instead of driving Escalades and Hummers we'd be in a lot better shape now.   But just like any addict, we are now at the point where anything and anyone who stands between us and our supply, is expendable.