Category Archives: oil
A return to optimism in mining puts Canada at a crossroads
February 16, 2017
The Canadian Mining Association
To download a copy of Facts & Figures 2016, go HERE
Action needed for Canada to capitalize on potential rebound
Cautious optimism is returning to the global mining industry, which could spur mining companies to make new and significant investments. However, a new report from the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) shows evidence of declining Canadian competitiveness and the prospect for major exploration and mining investments to flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally. The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness. The time is now to put the right policy pieces in place to better compete for those investments and regain our leadership in mining,” stated Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC.
MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016 report notes several indicators that reveal that Canada is not as competitive as it once was. Foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining sector dropped by more than 50 percent year-over-year in 2015. This is disproportionate to Canadian mining direct investment abroad, which only experienced a 6 percent decline. This imbalance indicates that companies are investing in project development, but may be less interested in doing so in Canada. Canada also no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, having conceded first place to Australia in 2015. Further, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016. If these trends continue, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects that become operational mines in Canada.
“The policy landscape in Canada is full of uncertainty as we await the outcomes of major government decisions. The federal government is reviewing federal environmental legislation, is implementing a pan-Canadian climate change policy, and is working to address long-standing transportation and infrastructure issues. These are all necessary and positive steps, but they must result in boosting Canada’s attractiveness as a place to do business. At risk is a key sector of our economy, and one that leads the world in sustainable mining practices,” stated Gratton.
MAC’s report also revealed the mining industry remained a strong contributor to the Canadian economy despite the downturn in 2015. The industry directly employed more than 370,000 people across Canada and remained the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis. An additional 190,000 worked indirectly in mining, with more than 3,700 companies supplying goods and services to the Canadian mining industry. In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Policies that improve Canada’s mining competitiveness:
1) Improve the federal project review process – the process should be effective and timely, from pre-environmental assessment (EA) to post-EA permitting, with meaningful consultation with Aboriginal communities.
2) Invest in critical infrastructure in remote and northern regions – introduce strategic tax measures and ensure the new Canada Infrastructure Bank has a strong economic development focus for northern Canada.
3) Improve access to trade – ensure trade policies provide access to new and important markets, including China, and improve Canada’s transportation network to more efficiently move mineral and metal products to market.
4) Address climate change while protecting Canadian businesses – adopt policies that lead to meaningful greenhouse gas emissions while protecting emissions intensive and trade-exposed industries (EITI), like the mining industry. Failing to protect EITI sectors will result in “carbon leakage”—the shifting of production and the associated economic benefits from countries that are taking action on climate to those that are not.
5) Help expedite industry innovation – The Canada Mining Innovation Council is seeking a $50 million investment for the Towards Zero Waste Mining innovation strategy from the Government of Canada to accelerate the adoption of disruptive technologies that will support the transition to a lower carbon future.
To download a copy of Facts & Figures 2016, go HERE
The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit www.mining.ca.
Canada losing ground as mining investment destination
Feb 16, 2017
Source: MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016.
While optimism is slowly but steadily returning to the global mining industry, Canada doesn’t seem to be in a good position to benefit from the increasing number of companies ready to make new and significant investments.
At least that is the conclusion from a report released Thursday by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), which also warns of the possibility of seeing major exploration and mining investments flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally,” MAC President and CEO Pierre Gratton said.
Elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays, uncertainty and major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing to the country’s declining appeal.
The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness, Gratton noted.
The report also highlights the policy areas that Canada needs to pay attention to in order to seize future growth opportunities and re-gain its leadership in mining.
Some of the figures included in the report are quite telling. In 2015, foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining industry dropped by more than 50% from the previous year. In contrast, the country’s resources sector direct investment abroad only experienced a 6% decline.
According the industry body, such imbalance proves that Canada no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, a top place it lost to Australia in 2015. Further, MAC says, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016.
If these trends continue, the association warns, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects to become operational mines in Canada.
Despite the challenges, the sector remains a key contributor to the Canadian economy, employing more than 370,000 people across the country and being the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis.
In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Clear signs of recovery for oil service companies: Yager
If your definition of success is a return to 2014, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re still in business after the past two years, this is a measurable and meaningful improvement for the part of the industry that’s chasing rigs.
By David Yager
Feb. 15, 2017, 2:56 p.m.
The most frequently referenced barometer of oil service prosperity is the number of active drilling rigs. But this is only part of the story. There are multiple ways to measure progress or success.
The oil service recovery currently underway is not evenly distributed or positive for all participants. But after two years of contraction and misery, the outlook has improved sufficiently to justify optimism for most.
On January 20, JWN’s Rig Locator reported 340 rigs moving or making hole. This is the highest number in nearly two years since Feb. 10, 2015. Utilization is reported to be over 52 per cent, but that’s because the available rig fleet has shrunk to 653 from over 800.
At an average cost of $5 million per machine, nearly $750-million worth of drilling iron from two years ago is parked or obsolete. That’s a huge price for contractors to absorb for a modest mathematical increase in rig utilization.
Service rig utilization is a broader measure because activities involving production workovers and abandonments, not just new well completions. The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors reported in November that 32 per cent of the 1,003 available service rigs were working, the highest rate in 2016 and the past year. In the dark days of early 2016, when wells went down, operators often couldn’t justify spending the cash to fix them.
That all changed with higher oil prices in mid-2016.
Oil prices are higher, but many don’t appreciate how much. On January 20, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada and GMP FirstEnergy commodity pricing report had synthetic crude at C$71.92 and Edmonton mixed sweet at C$65.92. Western Canadian Select, the perpetually depressed blend of bitumen, synthetic and condensate (mixed for easier transportation), fetched C$52.18.
Noteworthy is all three averaged more than $30/bbl higher than a year ago. For an industry producing 4.5 million bbls/d of these three crude types plus natural gas liquids (which have enjoyed a similar increase), this is $135 million/day more than a year ago. These are big numbers.
The ARC Energy Research Institute, a unit of ARC Financial, publishes a weekly macroeconomic report on the upstream petroleum industry. On January 16, ARC estimated 2017 revenue from all oil and gas production could be $110 billion, a whopping $32 billion (or 41 per cent) higher than 2016. Higher oil prices are aided by natural gas being expected to benefit from a 50 per cent boost this year. Revenue from existing production remains the number one source of cash flow for reinvestment. This explains why most operators have announced increased spending.
ARC estimates after-tax cash flow to more than double in 2017 to $45 billion from only $20 billion last year. This supports an estimated 40 per cent increase in capital spending on conventional oil gas from last year, to $28.8 billion compared to only $20.5 billion. While this is still lower than historical levels, the estimate does not anticipate improvements from capital inflows from new equity issues. As for debt, oil companies will be dedicating a meaningful portion of their improved financial fortunes to balance sheet repair.
If your definition of success is a return to 2014, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re still in business after the past two years, this is a measurable and meaningful improvement for the part of the industry that’s chasing rigs.
The recovery is not even. ARC estimates oilsands investment will decline yet again to only $13.2 billion this year, the lowest level since 2009. It was $16.2 billion last year and $22.9 billion in 2015. For major processing projects, the $8.5-million North West Redwater Sturgeon Refinery construction is winding down. The workforce has been reduced by 2,000 in the past year and further reductions will follow. Start-up is anticipated for the latter half of the year. Two new projects totaling $7 billion from Pembina Pipeline and Inter Pipeline to build plastic feedstock plants have been announced, but they aren’t going to materially move the employment and trades needle for most of 2017.
The oilpatch is not yet firing on all cylinders. The macroeconomic uncertainty ranges from Donald Trump to pipelines to carbon taxes. Activity may never return to the go-go years of 2012 through 2014.
But it is much better than 2016.
Oil firms resume rail shipments as crude oil pipelines fill up again
Jesse Snyder | February 13, 2017 4:08 PM ET
CALGARY — A looming pipeline shortage could force more barrels of Canadian oil onto rail cars over the next few years, as oilsands companies look for alternative shipping options amid a gradual rise in production.
The oil industry’s pipeline woes have eased in recent months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved two major pipeline proposals, and after U.S. President Donald Trump invited TransCanada Corp. to resubmit the Keystone XL pipeline permit.
However, the earliest date of completion for any new pipeline project is around the end of 2019 — if there are no delays. With oilsands production expected to rise over the next five years, and with Canada’s pipeline system near capacity, oil firms are tapping crude-by rail once again.
“The reality is, without additional physical steel being put in the ground there will come a point where that pipeline system will be overtaken,” said Kevin Birn, an analyst with IHS Cera in Calgary.
Volumes of crude moving by rail are already on the rise. Canadian crude oil exports by rail surpassed 120,000 bpd in November 2016, the highest in 13 months.
Recent volumes are nearing their peak of 172,000 bpd in March 2014, when several deadly accidents involving crude-laden trains turned oil-by-rail transportation into a contentious topic, according to the National Energy Board.
The prominence of oil-by-rail transportation came as oil prices were riding high, causing pipelines to reach their capacity. Producers began expanding their rail capabilities at great expense, but oil production tapered off after oil prices crashed in late-2014. Pipeline operators also began finding ways to more efficiently move liquids through their systems, which further dampened demand for rail shipments.
Today, rising oilsands output is setting the scene for a modest oil-by-rail resurgence.
GMP FirstEnergy analyst Martin King wrote in a recent research note that higher oilsands production was raising the “potential for (rail) activity to return to previous highs set in 2014.”
That is partly because analysts expect that much of the efficiencies wrung out of the Canadian pipeline system in recent years have reached their maximum.
Midstream companies like TransCanada and Enbridge Inc. have begun moving higher volumes of liquids by replacing older pumps along their pipelines; blending various types of crude together to better utilize space; or adding chemicals and lubricants that allow for better flow.
“Midstream companies’ ability to optimize that system has been very good in recent years, but it’s going to get increasingly tight,” Birn said.
The looming pipeline crunch caused several oilsands companies to buy into rail capacity as a way to diversify their customer base.
Oilsands operator Cenovus Energy Inc. moved an average 15,000 barrels per day by rail in the third quarter of 2016, up from 6,600 barrels in the third quarter of 2015.
“It does allow us to move barrels to refiners that otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive them,” said Cenovus spokesperson Reg Curren.
The company owns roughly 100,000 bpd in rail capacity, including the roughly 70,000 bpd rail terminal in Bruderheim, Alta., that it purchased from Canexus Corp. in 2015.
Imperial Oil Ltd., another oilsands operator, and its joint-venture partner Kinder Morgan, own roughly 210,000 barrels per day of rail capacity out of a terminal based in Edmonton, Alta. The companies did not divulge recent shipping volumes.
With oilsands production set to rise between 600,000 bpd and 800,000 bpd in the next five years, according to some estimates, producers have begun to show more interest in rail options.
Canadian oil production averaged 3.7 million bpd in 2015, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. But that number could reach as high as 5.2 million bpd by 2021, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.
“People have been calling us, hedging their bets,” said John Zahary, the CEO of Altex Energy Ltd., an oil-by-rail logistics firm.
The company today moves around 20,000 bpd of crude through its three main rail offloading facilities. That is lower than the 30,000 bpd it moved when oil-by-rail shipments were at their peak, but Zahary says current volumes could rise as more supply comes on stream.
However most analysts don’t see foresee a similar boom in rail shipments as the rapid build out of rail terminals in 2013-2014 led to an oversupply of capacity.
That undersupply, coupled with low pipeline availability, sent costs skyrocketing for Canadian producers.
“We don’t expect to see the blowouts we’ve seen in the past because of all the infrastructure we’ve seen built out in recent years,” Birn said.
Industry estimates that, on average, rail shipments can cost between $15 and $18 per barrel, compared to $7 to $10 per barrel to ship via pipeline.
Trudeau, Trump vow to tighten energy ties, starting with Keystone
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 6:31PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 7:17AM EST
After meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump signalled his desire to strengthen the bilateral-trading relationship, as the two leaders committed to improved energy trade and singled out the Keystone XL pipeline as an important infrastructure project.
Mr. Trudeau visited Washington on Monday with a cadre of cabinet ministers and several female business executives who participated in a roundtable on women entrepreneurs and business leaders. At every opportunity, the Canadians stressed the highly integrated nature of the two economies and the need for an open border.
In their joint statement, Mr. Trump and Mr. Trudeau noted that U.S.-Canadian energy and the environment are “inextricably linked” and that they are committed to “further improving our ties” in those areas.
“We have built the world’s largest energy trading relationship,” the statement said. “We share the goals of energy security, a robust and secure energy grid, and a strong and resilient energy infrastructure that contributes to energy efficiency in both countries. …
“As the process continues for the Keystone XL pipeline, we remain committed to moving forward on energy-infrastructure projects that will create jobs while respecting the environment,” it added. Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Trudeau mentioned climate-change policies, though their statement did speak of co-operating on “clean energy.”
Like other exporters, Canadian oil and gas producers have worried about protectionist rhetoric employed by Mr. Trump, and a border adjustment proposal in Congress that could effectively place an import tax on goods entering the U.S. market.
In a joint news conference, Mr. Trump indicated that Canada is not the target when he complains about the unfairness of the North American free-trade agreement and that he is aiming for a “stronger trading relationship between the United States and Canada.”
However, he did suggest there would be some “tweaking” of the deal as it relates to Canada-U.S. trade, and he did not address the threat of a border adjustment levy or Buy America policies that can discriminate against Canadian exporters. When Mr. Trump revived the Keystone XL project last month, he also said he wanted American steel to be used for the pipeline and directed his Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross to prepare a plan to maximize the use of U.S.-sourced steel in all pipeline projects.
After having the project rejected by former president Barack Obama, TransCanada Corp. has re-applied for approval of the Keystone XL line, which would deliver Alberta oil sands crude to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast. The President ordered the review to be expedited.
The Alberta-based companies fear they could face new market-access problems in what is currently virtually their sole export market. Several analysts have warned of a dire impact on the oil and gas sector if the proposed border adjustment levy was enacted.
“Such fears were wildly overblown in the first place, at least from the oil-industry perspective,” said Robert Johnston, president of Eurasia Group, a political-risk firm in Washington. Eurasia Group has argued that the U.S. government was unlikely to impose any measures that would drive up energy costs or impede imports from Canada.
Still, the industry welcomed Mr. Trump’s reassuring statements, said Terry Abel, executive vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “They tend to echo the long history we’ve had with a very strong, mutually beneficial trade relationship,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau had one key message for the President: that liberalized, crossborder U.S. trade benefits American middle-class workers as much as it does Canadian. One statistic was used to tell that story: that Canada is the most important export market for 35 states. It is a figure that was repeated by Mr. Trump at the news conference and even by CNN anchors covering the visit.
“Millions of good middle-class jobs on both sides of the border depend on this partnership,” Mr. Trudeau said.
In addition to oil and gas producers, manufacturers worry about maintaining their access to the American market, and whether they’ll be hit by new Republican protectionism – arising from the White House or Congress.
“It’s early days but [the meeting] was very encouraging,” said Dennis Darby, president of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association. He said the two sides appeared to make progress in a some specific areas, including expedited customs clearings for goods moving across the border, and harmonizing regulations.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us [in beating back protectionist measures] but this is a way better start than many predicted,” he said.
Suncor CEO confident Tillerson will shield oilpatch from border adjustment tax
Geoffrey Morgan| February 9, 2017 7:37 PM ET
CALGARY – The head of Canada’s largest oil company thinks Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, could help shield domestic crude from a border adjustment tax.
The possibility of a border tax, which would raise the cost of exporting to the U.S., caused alarm in the Calgary oilpatch in recent weeks as the vast majority of Canada’s oil – the country’s largest export – is shipped to the States.
But Suncor Energy Inc. president and CEO Steve Williams downplayed the risk Thursday saying, “I think the probability of a border tax as we’re currently thinking about it is relatively low,” and praised former ExxonMobil Corp. chief executive Rex Tillerson, who is now the U.S.’s top diplomat.
“There’s a lot of support for the oil and gas industry. There’s a lot of expertise in the government with Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. The secretary had not just great experience in the industry but in the Canadian oilsands,” Williams said.
ExxonMobil is the majority owner of Canadian oil major and pioneering oilsands developer Imperial Oil Ltd., and is the second largest shareholder after Suncor in the Syncrude Canada Ltd. venture.
Tillerson understands American refineries rely on Canadian heavy oil imports, Williams said, adding, “I think we’re still a critical part of that mix.”
Williams’ comments were intended to soothe investor fears during Suncor’s fourth quarter earnings call over Canada’s place in a new U.S. energy doctrine that focuses on “unleashing” domestic oil and natural gas production.
Williams also said North American demand for refined oil products had declined in recent years but the outlook for refined products could now improve. “With the new regime in the U.S., that (trend) may potentially reverse,” he said.
One area where Trump’s policies could affect the Canadian energy industry, Williams said, was his overall encouragement of the sector in the States.
“The new regime down there is going to probably reduce corporation taxes and is probably going to encourage business in a way that we haven’t seen for a while,” Williams said, adding both Alberta’s provincial NDP government and Canada’s federal Liberal government “have realized that we have to stay competitive.”
The company also announced it would hike its dividend by 10 per cent but also that the anticipated cost of its Fort Hills oilsands mine had risen approximately 11 per cent to between $16.5 billion and $17 billion.
To offset the rising cost of the Fort Hills project, Suncor announced the project’s expected production capacity had also been revised upwards by 7 per cent from 180,000 barrels of oil per day to 194,000 bpd.
“On the surface, it looks like costs are going up more than the nameplate capacity,” GMP FirstEnergy analyst Michael Dunn said. He added that Suncor’s goal is to keep its per-barrel costs steady at $84,000 per barrel.
Teck Resources, a partner in the Fort Hills project, said in a statement it will post an after-tax impairment charge of $164 million in its fourth-quarter results due to the increased capital cost.
Fort Hills is expected to begin producing oil by the end of the year, adding significantly to the company’s fast-growing production. The company produced a record 738,000 bpd on average in the fourth quarter, including its share of Syncrude’s output, and now produces more oil than Qatar, which pumped out an average of 650,000 bpd last year.
JP Morgan analyst Phil Gresh said in a research note that Suncor’s results beat earnings and cash flow expectations. The company recorded net earnings of $531 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a net loss of $2 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.
AltaCorp Capital analyst Nicholas Lupick said in a research note the financial performance “was largely the result of stronger than anticipated production volumes from Syncrude” and better profits from Suncor’s downstream refining business.
Suncor has been working to improve performance and drive down costs at Syncrude since it became the majority owner of the project in 2016. “As it turned out, performance improvements materialized more quickly than we had planned for,” Williams said.
“I would just say, it’s a little bit premature to expect this level of performance to continue every quarter,” he said.
Suncor and other oilsands companies have focused on cutting costs over the last two years during the prolonged oil price collapse.
MEG Energy Corp. announced Thursday it had driven its operating costs down to $8.24 per barrel in the fourth quarter even as the company’s net loss rose to $305 million, from a loss of $297 million in the same quarter a year earlier. However, net loss for the year shrank to $429 million compared to $1.17 billion in 2015.
Wall on energy – let’s stop the misrepresentation of this industry and instead focus on continued innovation
From Brad Wall’s Facebook Page:
Some in this country are uncomfortable with our energy sector..as an energy-producing nation, we need to address that.
The world will be primarily dependent on coal, oil and gas for decades. Saskatchewan and Canada is one of the safest and most sustainable producers of that energy.
So let’s stop the misrepresentation of this industry and instead focus on continued innovation to ensure Saskatchewan and Canada are global leaders in supplying energy to a world that needs it.
Public Offerings of Petroleum and Natural Gas Rights Total $50 Million for 2016-17 Fiscal Year
Released on February 9, 2017
Tuesday’s public offering of Saskatchewan’s Crown petroleum and natural gas rights raised $1.7 million for the province, bringing the total for the 2016–17 fiscal year to $50 million.
This was the last public offering of the current fiscal year, with the total surpassing the $43 million raised in the previous fiscal year.
“This is an indicator that a tough, forward-looking industry continues to see opportunities for oil and gas development in Saskatchewan,” Energy and Resources Minister Dustin Duncan said. “Saskatchewan is considered one of the world’s top jurisdictions for petroleum investment. We continue to work on building that reputation and improving our capabilities to meet the needs of the industry to help grow our economy.”
Among the reasons for Saskatchewan’s strong reputation is the Integrated Resource Information System (IRIS)—the result of a six-year program to replace the Ministry of the Economy’s aging computer and paper-based systems related to the oil and gas industry.
Since its implementation in 2015, IRIS has significantly enhanced service provided to the industry. It allows companies to conduct a comprehensive range of business and regulatory tasks online with the Government of Saskatchewan via web-based, self-service functionality 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A detailed overview of the benefits of IRIS can be viewed online at http://publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=84098.
Tuesday’s public offering saw four leases located north of Lampman receive bonus bids totalling $537,079 for 583 hectares; these parcels are prospective for multiple targets including the Midale and Frobisher-Alida Beds of the Madison Group as well as the Bakken Formation.
The highest bid per hectare was $3,201.87 for a 48.564-hectare parcel west of St. Walburg.
The next public offering of petroleum and natural gas rights will be held on April 11, 2017.
For more information, contact:
Sanitation crews work to remove massive amounts of garbage from DAPL protest camp before spring thaw
By Sara Berlinger
Posted: Mon 5:36 PM, Feb 06, 2017 |
Updated: Mon 6:53 PM, Feb 06, 2017
CANNON BALL, N.D. – Last week, we showed you all the garbage that was left by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at the Oceti Sakowin Camp.
Now, we’re showing you where all that trash will end up.
Sanitation crews are working hard to dispose of six months’ worth of garbage from a community the size of Wahpeton or Valley City. The mountains of debris need to be moved before the spring thaw occurs.
Making a dent in the immense amount of trash being hauled out of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp is being hindered by the weather. All the garbage that was left behind is now frozen into massive chunks of junk.
In a month, all this trash could become toxic.
“Standing Rock Environmental Protection Agency and Dakota Sanitation are working together to try and advert an environmental tragedy,” says Tom Doering, Morton County Emergency Manager.
It’s estimated it will take 250 trucks filled with litter to clear the camp.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” says Doering.
Each load that’s dumped is inspected by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.
“We are looking for, as I said, anything illegal, anything that might be used to, I guess, harm our officers during a protest,” says Jay Gruebele, Morton County Sheriff’s Office Captain.
Authorities are also searching through the piles for evidence they hope they don’t find.
“As bad as it sounds, we’re looking for people that may have died and could be wrapped up in a canvas or a tarp or tent,” says Gruebele.
Logistics make cleaning up this mess more difficult.
“Because the bridge is closed, they have to take the long way around, so it’s adding haul time,” says Doering.
Twenty-three loads have been dumped at the Bismarck Landfill since the cleanup started.
The clean-up effort started about a week ago.
Wed Feb 8, 2017 | 6:48am EST
Controversial Dakota pipeline to go ahead after Army approval
By Valerie Volcovici and Ernest Scheyder | WASHINGTON/HOUSTON
The U.S. Army will grant the final permit for the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline after an order from President Donald Trump to expedite the project despite opposition from Native American tribes and climate activists.
In a court filing on Tuesday, the Army said that it would allow the final section of the line to tunnel under North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, part of the Missouri River system. This could enable the $3.8 billion pipeline to begin operation as soon as June.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N) is building the 1,170-mile (1,885 km) line to help move crude from the shale oilfields of North Dakota to Illinois en route to the Gulf of Mexico, where many U.S. refineries are located.
Protests against the project last year drew drew thousands of people to the North Dakota plains including Native American tribes and environmental activists, and protest camps sprung up. The movement attracted high-profile political and celebrity supporters.
The permit was the last bureaucratic hurdle to the pipeline’s completion, and Tuesday’s decision drew praise from supporters of the project and outrage from activists, including promises of a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
“It’s great to see this new administration following through on their promises and letting projects go forward to the benefit of American consumers and workers,” said John Stoody, spokesman for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.
The Standing Rock Sioux, which contends the pipeline would desecrate sacred sites and potentially pollute its water source,
vowed to shut pipeline operations down if construction is completed, without elaborating how it would do so. The tribe called on its supporters to protest in Washington on March 10 rather than return to North Dakota.
“As Native peoples, we have been knocked down again, but we will get back up,” the tribe said in the statement. “We will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact. We call on the Native Nations of the United States to stand together, unite and fight back.”
Former President Barack Obama’s administration last year delayed completion of the pipeline pending a review of tribal concerns and in December ordered an environmental study.
Less than two weeks after Trump ordered a review of the permit request, the Army said in a filing in District Court in Washington D.C. it would cancel that study. The final permit, known as an easement, could come in as little as a day, according to the filing.
There was no need for the environmental study as there was already enough information on the potential impact of the pipeline to grant the permit, Robert Speer, acting secretary of the U.S. Army, said in a statement.
Trump issued an order on Jan. 24 to expedite both the Dakota Access Pipeline and to revive another controversial multibillion dollar oil artery: Keystone XL. Obama’s administration blocked that project in 2015.
At the Dakota Access construction site, law enforcement and protesters clashed violently on several occasions throughout the fall. More than 600 people were arrested, and police were criticized for using water cannons in 25-degree Fahrenheit (minus 4-degree Celsius) weather against activists in late November.
“The granting of an easement, without any environmental review or tribal consultation, is not the end of this fight,” said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the primary groups protesting the line.
“It is the new beginning. Expect mass resistance far beyond what Trump has seen so far.”
LEGAL CHALLENGE TOUGH
Any legal challenge is likely to be a difficult one for pipeline opponents as presidential authority to grant such permits is generally accepted in the courts. The tribe said in a statement the decision “wrongfully terminated” environmental study of the project.
Deborah Sivas, professor of environmental law at Stanford and director of Stanford’s Environmental Law Clinic, said a challenge by the tribe would likely rely on the reasons the Army Corps itself gave for why more review was needed in December.
“The tribe will probably argue that an abrupt reversal without a sufficient explanation for why the additional analysis is not necessary is arbitrary and should, therefore, be set aside,” she said in an email.
Supporters say the pipeline is safer than rail or trucks to transport the oil.
Shares of Energy Transfer Partners finished up 20 cents at $39.20, reversing earlier losses on the news.
(Additional reporting by Liz Hampton in HOUSTON and Brendan Pierson in New York; Writing by David Gaffen and Simon Webb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)