While its questionable assumptions and unsupportable conclusion grab headlines, a new report from long-time pipeline opponent Dr. Tom Gunton and his small team of academics offers little value in terms of project knowledge.
Titled “Evaluation of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” the latest report of the research team at SFU’s School of Resource & Environmental Management offers no surprises in terms of its biased, negative findings, according to Canada Action Founder and Spokesperson Cody Battershill.
“It’s unfortunate the school continues to publish anti-pipeline papers written on the basis of faulty assumptions. But we’re not surprised in the least. For Tom Gunton, it’s par for the course,” Battershill said.
Battershill takes issue with a number of assumptions in the report, calling those assumptions ‘unsound.’
“For example, the report double-counts pipeline projects, which calls into question other findings in the document,” Battershill explained.
Battershill explains the report claims that the economic viability of Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) has been hurt by market condition changes since the purchase of Trans Mountain by the federal government in August 2018.
But among the market changes Gunton et al cite are TMEP’s construction itself. “That’s double-counting, and it’s a glaring flaw,” Battershill says. “In my opinion, that casts a shadow over the whole document. That, in part, is why we’re giving it a failing grade.”
The SFU authors also wrote that “an additional factor adversely impacting Canadian oil production is the new International Maritime Organization shipping fuel standard to reduce sulphur emissions, which will put further downward pressure on Canadian oil production because Canadian heavy oil is high in sulphur.”
But Battershill rejects this is simply false: “The IMO shipping standard has been in effect for some 15 months, and has produced absolutely no negative impact. It’s scare-mongering, designed to promote a biased anti-pipeline result, and I think it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Battershill added, “every reasonable forecast of world energy consumption anticipates oil will continue to play an outsized role in the energy supply mix for the next several decades. Yet Gunton et al fail to acknowledge the need to replace long-term supply.”
Battershill says he’s disappointed in the report’s shoddy workmanship and findings, and puts it down to the authors’ bias against pipelines.
“It feels like they’ve been saying for years that the pipeline fails the business case. But Canadians know it’s because of a lack of pipeline capacity that the differentials between Canadian prices and other producers realized prices have cost Canadian jobs, investment and government revenues.
“Canadian energy watchers know production growth has struggled as a direct result of constraints on Canadian pipeline capacity. The existing Trans Mountain pipeline, as has been widely reported for years, is operating at maximum capacity.
“But slanted, inaccurate sound-bites masquerading as research have once more confused the issue. And the communities that will suffer won’t simply be the long-standing resource towns we’ve all heard of, but the emerging Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that have gradually built strong community legacies by participating in economic opportunities in energy,” Battershill said.
“In spite of the biased anti-pipeline Gunton report, I know most Canadians are interested in a project like TMEP which is absolutely central to their lives and to the funding of Canadian social programs,” Battershill said.
Canada Action is a volunteer-built organization that supports Canadian natural resources development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.