The huge oil companies in Northern Alberta are doing it all wrong.
Most of them produce sulphur as a byproduct of natural gas or oil. One that I worked for produced, at start-up, 800 tonnes per day of sulphur.
What happens to the sulphur? It is stockpiled near the plant, outdoors as a huge, yellow block.
So, what good is sulphur? It is the building block for nearly all the industrial acids required to produce chemicals, etc.
Why is it stockpiled? The north of Alberta does not have a railroad to the northern plants, so no shipment.
This huge company also refines the raw oil and produces many thousand tonnes of coke (used by steel mills for steel production). What do they do with this? It is stockpiled, too.
They have no railroad to the plant sites. China and Japan would most likely buy it all if it could be shipped easily.
This plant has expansion plans to double and triple its capacity. They would make more sulphur and more coke, as well as more oil.
If this is continued, the capacity of the export pipeline will not handle it all.
A railroad to the north would enable these companies to ship their oil by rail car - no pipeline or pumps required and no permits.
How else could the oil companies improve? If all the oil produced was refined into final products: diesel, gasoline, motor oil, jet fuel and so on, the companies would be shipping smaller quantities of much more value, thus making more money inside Canada with many more Canadians benefiting from this smart operation.
If I was a large shareholder of any of these companies, I would ask why they are not making many more money here at home.
Each barrel of raw oil exported also contains real jobs (the refining, manufacturing and shipping jobs).
CN or CPR should be seeking to install the first rail link into the north, thus ensuring the shipping market.
These are huge companies producing oil and gas, sulphur and coke, so they also require new material and supplies to be shipped in to their job sites. Two-way shipping - no empty cars equals more profit.
The oil and gas industry in the north is not short term, so a rail link sooner than later just makes sense.
Eventually, the clean-up time will come. Will they deal with the sulphur and coke then? I wonder.
We only have to remember the tar pits of Nova Scotia, tailing ponds of many mines and smelters. History will tell us the truth.
I really want them to clean up as they produce their product and profits. They seem to sort of go together.
If we let this slide, then I predict taxpayers will end up doing the cleanup - if it even gets done.
I am not anti oil production, but it should be done with efficiency and with cleanup along with profits.
Why is this not being done?
Ottawa is swimming with the oil company lobbyists who carry suitcases of money around the city to get their way.