Just the Beginning of Canada's Filthy Tar Sands
A Qualitative Jump Down a Black Hole
Date Written: 2013-05-07
Year Published: 2013
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX14961
The technology used in Canada's tar sands will be used to open up other potential oil deposits that could more than double all know oil reserves. The disaster threatens to keep expanding.
The breakneck pace of tar sands development in Canada is well known; it is the sheer size of the multiple mines, in-situ plants, upgraders, pipelines, rail lines, refineries and more across all of North America that earned the nickname “the Gigaproject.” Now, what if we took the most destructive aspects of tar sands mining, combined that with the worst parts of in-situ, and put them together into a project that was even worse than any tar sands development for the climate?
Climate activists are in a bind; stopping a pipeline filled with tar sands bitumen from being constructed is important politically, to establish that such things can indeed, be stopped. However, the mines still operate 24/7 and continue to heat up the atmosphere and become more financially efficient doing so. Fighting the Gigaproject from expanding is not wrong, but insufficient.
But as Canada is to tar sands, Brazil and Estonia are to Kerogen/Oil Shale. For decades, both as a part of the USSR and now, Estonia has had both oil and electricity provided by extracting energy from Oil Shale.
The Oil Shale rush is taking place almost in the opposite manner. Almost every corner of the earth is now being staked, contracts are being signed and new mines are being proposed and in some cases, already constructed– but the main developers are only a few. Today in the world, only three countries are commercially producing oil from shale: Estonia (with Eesti-Energia), Brazil and China.
Then there is Brazil, who have developed what they titled “Petrosix” technology in their commercial oil shale mines in the south of their country, relatively close to the border with Uruguay and Argentina. Since 1953 they have been mining oil shale, and since the 1990’s they have been doing so for profit. However, the global expansion of Petrosix technology also borrows from Alberta-based technology and access, through multi-country partnerships with TOTAL SA of France. TOTAL collaborates with Petrobras directly in two of the places on the planet furthest along in being opened up for shale mining into oil: the Kingdoms of Morocco and Jordan.
Globally resistance is more connected, intertwined and interwoven than ever. It must remain and expand at that level, because if we thought that climate justice organizing was going up a sisyphean mountain, we need to recognize the size of the behemoth. In the size lies the transformative hope, however. If organizing to dismantle this can begin, it will have to take place at an international level, and discard nationalist sentiments entirely. And that has always been the only means by which we can even hope to address climate change, anyhow.