Local jobs lost while NEB favours foreign industry

The Burnaby Chevron refinery is at risk of closing because of decisions by the National Energy Board (NEB) and Kinder Morgan Canada, who operate the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.  With the NEB’s blessing, Kinder Morgan has called for open bidding for their pipeline transportation services, leading to fears that Chevron will be out-bid by foreign investors.  This would mean less crude would be refined locally for local consumption, jobs would be lost, and more crude would be shipped out of Port Metro Vancouver, creating increased tanker traffic.

“With the huge appetites of super refineries in India and China, the Canadian Chevron refinery will be out-bid by foreign companies, and will no longer be able to secure feed.  This would inevitably result in closure and a loss of jobs for highly-skilled Canadian workers,” said Green MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May.

“The NEB has ignored the fact that there is a tanker moratorium on the BC coast. The shipping of oil from Burnaby was grandfathered back in 1972 but expanding tanker traffic fivefold while shipping out Canadian jobs with the crude has got to stop,” added May.

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline currently transports crude oil and refined products from Edmonton to the Greater Vancouver Area and Puget Sound, with the main line terminating at the Burnaby terminal.  Crude oil is used to feed the existing Chevron refinery in Burnaby or is shipped overseas by tankers via the Westridge marine terminal in Port Metro Vancouver.  The Chevron refinery in Burnaby was opened in 1935, and currently refines crude oil into petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and asphalt, supplying roughly one third of transportation fuel to BC’s Lower Mainland.

“The problem is that Canadian jobs are not taken into account when the National Energy Board evaluates pipelines for the export of crude oil,” said May.  “We should be securing our own domestic supply of oil, not shipping it overseas.”

Russ Day, a spokesman with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), said Chevron recently lost out in a bid 20,000 barrels a day of crude from the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which represents over a third of the refinery’s maximum capacity.  Mr. Day has said the union, which represents about 140 workers at the Chevron refinery, has been told to expect reduced operations in March.

Kinder Morgan Canada is also considering asking the National Energy Board for approval to twin the Trans Mountain Pipeline, more than doubling its capacity from 300,000 barrels a day to 700,000 barrels a day.  If the entire volume is open for international bidding, Chevron, with its maximum capacity of 55,000 barrels a day, will most certainly be outbid. With increased pipeline capacity, less crude refined for local markets at the Burnaby refinery, and more oil being shipped out of the Westridge marine terminal, tanker traffic leaving Port Metro Vancouver can be expected to increase substantially.

“The Green Party of Canada, along with the CEP and countless other stakeholders, has repeatedly expressed our need for a national energy strategy.   Without a comprehensive and collaborative national policy that includes energy security, competitiveness, renewable energy, greenhouse gas management, Canadian jobs will continue to be eliminated, our resources will continue to be exported, and our ecosystems will continue to be in danger,” said May.