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Rethink pipeline ideas

Dear Editor: Re: Pipeline politics coming for B.C., Opinion, Burnaby NOW, Nov. 16, by Keith Baldrey.

Dear Editor:

Re: Pipeline politics coming for B.C., Opinion, Burnaby NOW, Nov. 16, by Keith Baldrey.

While Canada, in the interest of a rational trade policy of market diversification, needs to look for new outlets for Alberta oil, it would be folly to attribute a strategic U.S. long-term significance to what clearly is a tactical short-term electoral manoeuvre on the part of the Obama administration to delay a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline until after the 2012 U.S. elections.

Quite apart from the political uncertainty of China as a reliable trading partner, there are significant strategic barriers to the proposed alternative expansion of both the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan existing pipeline systems to the Pacific coast for crude shipments to Asia.

Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, extending from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, would require the lifting of a ban on coastal oil tankers. Also, negotiations with B.C. native groups along the proposed Northern Gateway route are tangled by land claims which are certain to end up in protracted Supreme Court challenges.

Proposals by Kinder Morgan to increase capacity on its TransMountain pipeline, terminating near downtown Vancouver and making use of the narrow and shal-low waterway of Burrard Inlet as a route for supertankers, are most likely to end up "dead in the water."

As such, pending resolution of their very real barriers, neither the Keystone XL Pipeline to the U.S., nor the Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific coast and on to China are likely to have any immediate economic impact.

On balance, it seems a North American oil pipeline infrastructure remains the preferred strategic long-term option for both Canada and the United States, and, while regrettable, the short-term politically inspired delay of the Keystone pipeline decision should not cause Canada to "rush" off on a "slow boat to China."

Echoes of the past, when in 1990 the whole world was anxious to learn to speak Japanese !

E.W. Bopp, Tsawwassen