US city mulls blocking Canada’s oil sands crude from reaching its port
The city of South Portland, Maine, could be the first place in the US to pass a law that would prevent Canada’s crude from Alberta’s oil sand from getting anywhere near its waterfront.
CBC News reports that the city has already imposed a temporary moratorium on any new structures used by oil companies to help load oil from a pipeline on land, to oil tankers in their harbour, the third-largest oil port on the US East Coast.
“We have no interest in having the world’s dirtiest oil come through our community," Tom Blake, the former mayor of South Portland, told CBC.
When Canada's National Energy Board approved the reversal of Enbridge's (TSX:ENB) Line 9B to bring oil sands bitumen east to Montreal early this month, the community of South Portland assumed it was only a matter of time before that oil would be heading south to their port for export.
With recent advances in mining and processing technology, Alberta’s oil sands are shifting the balance of global energy production, giving Canada the world’s third-largest known reserves of recoverable oil, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Paired with the oil and natural gas boom in the northern plains of the United States, the oil sands could provide North America with energy independence and free the US from Middle Eastern entanglements.
Canadian firms, however, continue to face opposition, both locally and across the border. So far, they have been unable to access new markets in Asia and better prices as pipeline projects to the west coast languish in a regulatory morass.
TransCanada’s (NYSE:TRP) is advancing a west-east pipeline called Energy East, but after several years its Keystone XL project still has not received the green light to cross the border into the US.
Enbridge's other big project, the Northern Gateway pipelines, seems an ever-diminishing prospect.
Kinder Morgan’s (NYSE:KMI) proposal to expand its existing pipeline to the Pacific coast, is also facing fierce opposition.