The pipelines exporting tar sands out of Alberta are almost full, according to new analysis released today by Oil Change International. Without major expansion-driving pipelines such as Energy East, Kinder Morgan or Keystone XL, there will be no room for further growth in tar sands extraction and tens of billions of metric tonnes of carbon will be kept in the ground. This would be a significant step towards a safer climate, cleaner water and air, and healthier communities.
The report, entitled, “Lockdown: The End of Growth in the Tar Sands” can be found here: http://priceofoil.org/2015/10/27/lockdown-the-end-of-growth-in-the-tar-sands
“The tar sands have run out of room to grow,” says Hannah McKinnon of Oil Change International. “Production is close to peaking, and now it is time for a recognition that tar sands production has no place in a climate safe world.”
All proposed new pipeline routes out of Alberta are facing legal challenges, opposition by local authorities and regulators, and broad-based public opposition.1 All of the major projects have been significantly delayed with some cancellations seemingly imminent. No pipeline has been built since 2010, despite active industry efforts.
To assess the impact of these pipeline constraints, Oil Change International built a new and comprehensive model called the Integrated North American Pipelines model (INAP). It finds:
- the current system is 89% full; and
- the industry will run out of transportation capacity as soon as 2017.
Subsequent economic and carbon analysis of the model data finds:
- further growth in the sector is unlikely to be viable without major pipeline expansion;2
- transporting tar sands by rail is found to be too expensive to justify major new growth; and
- the emissions savings of no new growth would be 34.6 gigatons of CO2 equivalent (equivalent to the annual emissions of 227 coal plants over 40 years).