Frustrated with roadblocks erected by other provinces, environmental groups, First Nations, and the Obama administration in the U.S., to three existing pipeline proposals to deliver Alberta bitumen to market, Premier Jim Prantice announced today that his government had had enough.
Flanked by industry officials at an outdoor press conference at a science park, Prantice said that Alberta would begin construction soon on a pipeline that would drill straight through the Earth to deliver bitumen from the province direct to China.
“The idea came to me when I was watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon the other day,” Prantice recalled. “Elmer Fudd was hunting Bugs with his shotgun, and to escape Bugs dug a deep hole. Like he said after, ‘I knew I shoulda taken that left toin at Albuquerque.’ But he didn’t, and he ended up in China instead.
“After I’d finished wiping away the tears from laughing so hard, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, maybe that Wascally Wabbit is on to something.’”
The next morning, Prantice revealed his idea to cabinet. “They all thought it was a no-brainer. So I had Frank [Oberlay, Alberta’s Energy Minister] contact our partners in the oil patch to arrange a meeting.
“Oil’s in the crapper now price-wise,” Prantice admitted. “But boom times will return. And we intend to be ready.”
Alberta has long argued that to maximize its oil wealth it needs access to global markets — especially energy-hungry southeast Asia. But proposed pipelines heading west to the Pacific (Northern Gateway), south to the Gulf of Mexico (Keystone) and east to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick (Energy East), are all stuck in regulatory limbo. As a result, analysts say, the Alberta government and oil industry are missing out on billions in revenue.
Responding to reporters’ questions about the project, which would require drilling through 12,000 km of solid rock comprising Earth’s crust and mantle, Prantice admitted they were still figuring out the exact angle they’ll need to drill at to reach China. But he insisted the project, which he declined to give a cost estimate on, was doable.
“Remember, we’ll be able to use Earth’s gravity to move bitumen to the core. We’re also examining the feasibility of using the intense heat and pressure there to refine the bitumen into light crude that would be easier to pump the rest of the way to China.”
It would be a huge undertaking, the premier admitted. “But once the oil’s flowing there’s sweet F.A. all the tree-huggers and anti-Alberta types will be able to do about it. As Porky Pig would say, ‘Th-Th-That’s all folks!’”