Tar Sands in T&T?A look at the world’s dirtiest oil, fromCanada to Trinidad and Tobago
Authors’ Preface .............................................................................. 1Overview: Tar Sands in T&...
PREFACECanada has an image that in most cases does not match              in Canada before the industry was developed. In ...
Overview: Tar Sands in T&TTar sands are the dirtiest oil, dirtier even than a smelter  It was February 13, 2009. People th...
gas-fired power plant that could suffice to power tar             industrial projects in the southwest are specifically or...
Tar sands 101An introduction to the world’s dirtiest oilTar sands, sometimes also called oil sands by industry,           ...
What would tar sands meanfor Trinidad?Canada’s example points towards a toxic futureand climate chaosIf tar sands were to ...
ed. While further studies into these numbers have been              Fort McMurray lives under the poverty line, the vastre...
Trinidad and Tobago oil production                                                                                        ...
Climate Chaos, World WideWill a lack of cheap oil collapse the economy beforean abundance of cheaper oil collapses the cli...
Canada; the number one source of that supply within                    Maldives are set to disappear, while temperatures r...
Major Tar/Oil Sands Deposits         -10-
eposits and Projects in Trinidad                    -11-
What is rag?“This struggle permits us to become revolutionaries         RAG seeks a new possibility of community. The com-...
Tar sands or Oil Sands? Both terms represent the same thing, a deposit of bitumen mixed with clays and sands and silts. “O...
Spin CyclePushing tar sands means goinginto public relations overdriveThe story of the tar sands in Trinidad isn’t exactly...
Dirty oil incorporatedHow tar sands extraction went globalTar sands technology and know-how from Alberta are           for...
Myth vs. Fact       Myth: Tar sands and similar extreme forms of oil can replace conventional oil,       and supplies are ...
Big win against dirty smeltersCulture of resistance stops aluminum barons intheir tracksIn the early days of a fight that ...
news coverage from unexpected quarters. “There was            Austin’s words seem especially prescient today, as newan agg...
Stop the PaveCamp-out against highway continuesOn May first, international workers day, dozens of            This direct a...
PHOTO: Soldiers and police officers handcuff lead activist of the Highway Re-route Movement, Wayne Kublalsingh, during the...
AH  PLAYIN      Stop! Stop! Stop!            And crawled out from the pri-                 Yeaaah…!     And doh get tie up...
Everyone’s Downstream 2012          Trinidad and Tobagoa conference on environmental issues and in    opposition to tar sa...
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Tar Sands In T&T

  1. 1. Tar Sands in T&T?A look at the world’s dirtiest oil, fromCanada to Trinidad and Tobago
  2. 2. Authors’ Preface .............................................................................. 1Overview: Tar Sands in T&T .......................................................... 2Tar sands 101 .................................................................................... 4What would tar sands mean for Trinidad? ............................. 5Infographic: Oil Production in Trinidad & Tobago ............... 7Climate Chaos, World Wide ......................................................... 8Map of Tar Sands Projects in Trinidad ..................................... 10Glossary: Tar Sands or Oil Sands? ............................................. 13Spin Cycle .......................................................................................... 14Dirty oil incorporated .................................................................... 15Myth vs. Fact ...................................................................................... 16Big win against dirty smelters .................................................... 17Stop the Pave ..................................................................................... 19Poem ..................................................................................................... 21This booklet was written by Macdonald Stainsby, for oilsandstruth.org.Edited by Dawn Paley. Layout and design by Sakura Saunders. Cover art by Kit Joseph.All photographs by Macdonald Stainsby, unless otherwise noted.Back cover by Dru Oja Jay. Printed in Montreal by Katasoho, katasoho.com.Background photo: Burning tar sands during forest fire, April 2010.
  3. 3. PREFACECanada has an image that in most cases does not match in Canada before the industry was developed. In Trini-reality. Within the territory of Canada, vast destruction dad, bitumen has been mined on a small scale quarryoccurs in Alberta and elsewhere, in the name of the level for pavement, but no conversion to oil on a com-tar sands industry. Over time in Trinidad and Tobago, mercial scale has happened – yet.one notices the same image gap in play in the TwinIsland nation. Canada, through its largest banks, has In Trinidad, there is no political party with an anti-held strong imperial designs on T&T since indepen- tar sands analysis at this time. Historically the Baseodence. Today many of those banks have made a come- Panday administration tendered the first agreementback into Trinidad and Tobago, including the Royal with Western Oil Sands of Canada, which was ter-Bank of Canada (RBC). minated in 2008. Later, an exploration permit was announced for Petrotrin by Conrad Enill when heRBC is already the largest financier of Canadian tar was Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs in 2009,sands operations, which have been nicknamed the working for the Patrick Manning led PNM govern-“Gigaproject” as a shorthand reference to the sum of ment. The first Minister of Energy and Energy Affairsthe multiple megaprojects planned together. Com- of the People’s Partnership, Carolyn Seepersad-bined, this is the largest project in human history, and Bachan, promoted tar sands as viable, while currentmany say the most destructive on the planet. Commu- energy minister Kevin Ramnarine has been blatantnities living downstream of tar sands mines and else- about the government rationale for seeking tar sandswhere have seen unexplained health problems. developments fromThe extraction process poisons water with a toxic soup Indian, Canadian and other sources. If there is to be aof heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. “What we need national discussionIn addition, when you take pipeline and other tar sandsinfrastructure into account, we are looking at the third are projects that replace the Alutrint and decision on in-fastest rate of deforestation in the world. smelter,” on the dustrialization inPerhaps most immediate to the headlines is that Union Estate, he said. the southwest pen-Canada has started to become isolated internationally, insula, it will be be-other than from the United States of course, due to the History tells usclimate policies that are a direct result of tar sands ex- that Trinidadians cause communitytraction. Before Canada withdrew from the Kyoto pro- will rely on them- members organize.tocol, the country had seen rates of carbon emissions selves to makego up much faster than even the US totals. The federal decisions that set the destiny of the islands, and willgovernment doesn’t even bother denying this is directly make the politicians follow. If there is to be a nationalrelated to tar sands expansion over the last decade. discussion and decision on industrialization in the southwest peninsula, it will be because communityThere are many parts of both the Canadian story and members organize. A smelter that would have broughtthe plan for a similar industry in Trinidad and Tobago devastating but smaller amounts of pollution and risksthat RBC, Canadian and other energy corporations to the region was already stopped by an informed andand corrupt government officials do not want to have mobilized population. The right to know what is beingtold. While it may be fundamental to democracy that proposed for Trinbagonians – especially those whopopulations have a right to know what the risks, costs live in or near La Brea – is the first step to democraticand possible outcomes of such an industry might be, participation in the future of the country. We hopesuch information was never made available to people this publication helps further this informed reality. -1-
  4. 4. Overview: Tar Sands in T&TTar sands are the dirtiest oil, dirtier even than a smelter  It was February 13, 2009. People throughout Trinidad Refineries are a key element of the proposal. It is notwere celebrating the annual Carnival. For a day or possible to use a refinery that was constructed fortwo, few people were keeping up with government an- conventional oil for bitumen refining without a mas-nouncements. It was then the People’s National Move- sive upgrade.ment [PNM] government and the former Minister ofEnergy and Energy Affairs, Conrad Enill, announced In Trinidad, the Point-A-Pierre refinery has under-publicly that Trinidad and Tobago had given an ex- gone two major, multi-year long upgrades in the lastploration license to Petrotrin to possibly develop tar two decades costing billions of TT dollars. Tar sandssands as an industry similar to the Canadian model. refining has long been a part of the plans. In 2002,Carnival finished and life returned to normal. while working for Petrotrin, Kelvin Harnanan told the Oil andFast forward a little. In early 2011, the governing Peo- Gas Journal This is not to say allple’s Partnership [PP] Minister of Energy and Energy that PetrotrinAffairs, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan addressed a crowd is “focused in the or even any of thein Sangre Grande about illegal quarrying, heavy oil in medium term proposed industrialthe Gulf of Paria and other issues. on sulphur in gasoline and projects in the south-Seepersad-Bachan also promoted tar sands development: diesel and west are specifically the feasibility “Another way we can increase crude production, for tackling the or even primarily especially at today’s oil price would be to mine the bottom of the barrel.” for tar sands close to 2 billion barrels of oil in place that we have The so called bottom of in the South West area of our country. We know the barrel, according to development. there are environmental challenges to the mining of tar sands. But we also know there are players Harnanan, includes However, every huge quantities in the international marketplace who have been of bitumen in single one of these successfully mining tar sands in a safe and environ- mentally acceptable manner, for the production of Trinidad’s South- infrastructure west. synthetic crude.” projects make The area of inter-These pro-tar sands industry comments were made est for tar sands tar sands cheaper,the same day Petrotrin released documents related development be- more practical andto planned developments for Trinbagonian tar sands. gins approximate-Highlights include talk of mining for bitumen at a ly one kilometre more viabledepth of 600 feet, and a note that tar sands licenses southeast of the than without them.for Petrotrin are “to be granted outside the competi- Pitch Lake, neartive bidding process to undertake a specific scope of Vessigny. Associated industrial sites would extendworks.” north of the eastern stretches of Point Fortin. The Pitch Lake and surrounding areas are known for theirAlongside potential large scale investors are large sulphur content.physical components required for tar sands bitumenextraction. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces are lining Synthesizing bitumen on a large scale requires vastup and interlocking in Trinidad and Tobago’s South- energy inputs, in the case of Trinidad this would bewest peninsula. supplied by natural gas. Near La Brea there is a new -2-
  5. 5. gas-fired power plant that could suffice to power tar industrial projects in the southwest are specifically orsands extraction. As it was built on the site of the even primarily for tar sands development. However,defeated smelter, the plant’s proximity to tar sands every single one of these infrastructure projects makedeposits is so convenient it appears pre-planned. tar sands cheaper, more practical and more viable than without them.A stone’s throw southwest on the other side of theSouthern Main Road from the power plant is the loca- Indications are that Trinidad and Tobago’s govern-tion of a desalination plant, which will convert water ment does not wish to have public participation infrom the ocean into fresh water. Given the lack of discussions about moving forward with the tar sands.fresh water in the region, the water needed for extrac-tion could be supplied by this plant. Reliance Energy of India has already signed a Memo- randum of Understanding with the T&T governmentThe industrial equipment from giant trucks to convey- to construct a bitumen upgrader, another essentialors, slurries and upgraders all require large roadways. component for extraction and synthetic productionThe highway expansion project in southwest Trinidad into crude. Current Minister of Energy and Energyfrom Point Fortin to two points outside San Fernando Affairs Kevin Ramnarine only publicly spoke of thiscould greatly assist in the moving of tar sands related agreement following the T&T trade delegations returnheavy industrial equipment. In fact, the southeastern to the Twin Island nation in January, 2012. The agree-point of the proposed tar sands area of interest also ment was signed the previous Fall.coincides with the contested portion of the currenthighway expansion projects. The Mon Desir to Debe All told, there can be no doubt left that now is thestretch of the proposed highway may allow for heavy time to decide the future of southwest Trinidad:traffic to bypass San Fernando all the way to the refur- Should Petrotrin and foreign corporations be allowedbished Point-A-Pierre refinery. to turn the Peninsula into a toxic, permanent sacrifice zone? Will Trinis have a say in massive decisions overThis is not to say all or even any of the proposed a vast area of their small country?PHOTO: Construction of a desalination plant, across the Southern Main Road from Union Industrial Estates -3-
  6. 6. Tar sands 101An introduction to the world’s dirtiest oilTar sands, sometimes also called oil sands by industry, toxic to produce one barrel of synthetic oil. This water,are deposits of clays, dirt and bitumen all mixed to- which will remain toxic for a predicted six centuries,gether and spread throughout many parts of southwest contains heavy concentrations of lead, mercury, zinc,Trinidad. cadmium, arsenic and most deadly of all – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]. In Canada, it is col-For decades, tar sands have been quarried on a small lected in enormous tailings ponds so large that theyscale to make a relatively harmless substitute for as- are visible from outer space.phalt and sold off of trucks to locals who wish to pavetheir driveways with this somewhat spongy form of Water usage varies greatly; some in-situ operationsnatural asphalt. Bitumen, however, can be artificially have used less fresh water than mining while oth-extracted from the clays, dirts and silts it is mixed with ers have poisoned over a dozen barrels of fresh waternaturally, chemically altered and later upgraded into per barrel of synthetic crude produced. The water isa synthetic crude oil that can further be refined into either left in the deposit when bitumen is extracted ormany petroleum based products. is re-injected into the same well after it returns to the surface with the bitumen. This toxic water then mayThere are two main procedures for creating this syn- easily get intothetic, mock crude oil. One is a form of surface min- the surrounding three to five barrelsing. The other is called in-situ, which usually involves ground water and of fresh water area process called Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage, or aquifers.SagD. Less common for in-situ extraction is Cyclic made toxic for whatSteam Stimulation, or CSS. In-situ operations is predicted to be produce far more airWhen tar sands are mined, the area that is identified to pollution than min- six centuries tocontain bitumen is cleared of all forest cover. Then the ing operations. produce one barrelcompany extracting the bitumen breaks ground, which The same metalsmeans to suck all of the water off the surface areas and and toxic chemical by- of synthetic oilprevent further water collection. Then the company products released into the water are released into theremoves what industry calls overburden – all the life air in large quantities with in-situ operations. All of thegiving soils, roots and everything of any sort above the various chemicals have been linked to multiple com-bitumen deposit. and collect it in piles or otherwise mon and rare cancers, heart diseases, central nervousuntil after the mine is exhausted. In Canada, the over- system and blood disorders, and a host of respiratoryburden above tar sands deposits can be up to 200 feet, problems.or 65 meters deep. Both procedures for extracting tar sands are far moreIn T&T government publications, predictions of exca- energy intensive than regular oil production. Min-vations up to 600 feet (roughly 200 meters) have been ing for tar sands produces approximately three timesmade. After the excavation is complete to the bitumen the amount of greenhouse gasses as conventional oil,level, giant trucks cart multiple tonnes of bitumen while in-situ extraction can produce up to nine times(some in Canada carry hundreds of tonnes each load) the amount of green house gasses. to a conveyor that will dump the tar sands into whatis called a slurry. The slurry then uses high quantities In North America, Canadian tar sands rank secondof natural gas to heat massive quantities of fresh water only to coal in terms of accelerating climate change.and “spin” tar sands mixed with this steam/water until Yet the bulk of future tar sands production is to be inthe clays, dirts and silts separate from bitumen. On the even more CO2 intensive in-situ areas that com-average, three to five barrels of fresh water are made prise the bulk of Canadian bitumen deposits. -4-
  7. 7. What would tar sands meanfor Trinidad?Canada’s example points towards a toxic futureand climate chaosIf tar sands were to be developed in Trinidad, what use large amounts of fresh water. This water wouldwould happen to communities from La Brea to become toxic during extraction and would not be ablePoint Fortin? to be returned to the groundwater table or the local waterways. In Canada, large tailings ponds are knownVessigny, Guapo, Parrylands and Vance River are all to leach, which means that chemicals seep out of theon top of the ground that holds bitumen in place. ponds and contaminate soils, water, plants, animalsWhat are the prospects for La Brea itself? There may and ultimately people. An even greater fear would bebe lessons from the experience in Canada, but in a if one of the retaining walls of the massive waste im-sense, the Canadian parallel is incomplete. poundment areas were to fail, allowing toxins to flow directly into the ecosystem.Despite the much greater average distance for com-munities in Alberta from the tar sands mines them- The mostly Cree Indigenous community of Fortselves, alarming health problems and rising mor- MacKay is surrounded by the giant mines, as well astality rates have been reported for many years. The several in-situ operations. Evidence from MacKay iscity of Fort McMurray, upstream and away from the anecdotal yet undeniably powerful. A large number ofmajority of reported health effects, has instead had children in the community are suffering from breath-major social problems directly related to tar sands ing problems such as emphysema and asthma. Whiledevelopments. the source of tap water for the community is away from industrial activity, since November of 2011 FortFor a number of years now, members of the primar- MacKay has been supplied with bottled drinking wa-ily indigenous community of Fort Chipewyan, which ter. With the stacks blowing out carcinogens from thelies more than 200km downstream from the actual various extraction plants at the mine sites in the area,mining operations, have traced the main reason for local consumption of fish, moose and wild berriesincreasing illnesses and even deaths of many people directly exposes the community members to toxinsfrom “Chip” to the massive tar sands mines. The vast that have built up in the ecosystem.Athabasca River (from where water is syphoned off inthe extraction process) catches at least some levels of Official rates of cancers, auto-immune diseases andthe toxic materials that are by-products of extraction. heart problems are easier to gather from Fort Chipewy-These materials involve heavy metals, not limited to: an, where the community has made their concernsarsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel and mercury – along- known for a number of years. A local physician evenside polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]. went public and was censured by the government – before being cleared of all wrongdoing. A minimumThe impacts of these compounds on people depend of two and possibly more than six cases of cholangio-on how they enter the human system. These materi- carcinoma have appeared, a rare, cancerous diseaseals are spewed into the air when flaring occurs at a that affects the bile duct and should appear only oncerefinery, but can also be found in the ground, water in 100,000 persons given a normal distribution. Fortand air in differing volumes near tar sands mining Chip has 1,200 year round residents. Multiple otherand in-situ extraction. If there were to be mining in cancers have appeared, and the provincial governmentthe tar sands deposits south of Pitch Lake, the sepa- confirmed in a 2009 study that cancer rates in Fortration of bitumen from clays, sands and silts would Chipewyan are at least 30 per cent higher than expect- -5-
  8. 8. ed. While further studies into these numbers have been Fort McMurray lives under the poverty line, the vastrecommended, they have yet to be carried out. influx of specialized workers has broken much in the sense of community for local residents.Independent monitoring of water and animal con-tamination has been carried out in a number of ways Workers are overwhelmingly single men with few ties– building upon noted anomalies. Villagers who caught to the community. The work camps, essentially bar-local fish out of Lake Athabasca (into where the river racks for workers from out of the area to live near theflows) have long noted visible deformities in approxi- operations, are infamous for high levels of drug andmately 15 per cent of fish, including giant sores and alcohol abuse, from crack cocaine and crystal meth tobent spinal columns. A study conducted by Dr. Kevin hard liquor. An underground economy for clean urineTimoney found levels of mercury in the fish that were so workers can “pass” drug tests has become wide-recorded at levels much higher than any safe amount spread, as have sex-workers both serving the off dutyfor consumption. When hunters caught moose, the workers, or working in the survival sex trade for shel-flesh was noted to be off-colour; a government study ter in a town that has long since run out of affordableindicated the moose meat had more than 400 times housing. A new, modest home can cost easily over USthe safe level of arsenic. Provincial studies later down- $1 million and renting a couch spot for sleeping cangraded that level of arsenic to 30 times the safe level for be well into four figures a month. human consumption.  All of these impacts occur in communities that areAuto-immune diseases and cardiac (heart) problems much farther away from tar sands developments withare also of major concern in “Chip”, a community that the exception of Fort McKay – than any of the com-has become internationally known not for the amaz- munities south of Pitch Lake. In many cases, peopleing beauty of surrounding areas but rather for the who live in areas such as Vessigny are living right onproblems of their health. top of bitumen deposits. The industry – if it does not call for mass re-location of entire families – couldThe workers in the mines and in-situ operations rarely eliminate the forests right up to the property line ofsee data on their own health impacts from contami- residents. Where today are trees, marshes and placesnants, but the tar sands has had a serious impact on families can grow vegetables may tomorrow end up astheir lives as well. While nearly one in three people in contaminated landscapes void of natural life. PHOTO: Open excavation of bitumen sands south of the Pitch Lake -6-
  9. 9. Trinidad and Tobago oil production barrels per day (peak) 240,000 180,000 120,000 60,000 196? 1970 1981 1985 1990 1995 2005 2010 2014 2017 2020 1940s 1950s 1978 2000 (average) (average) Conventional oil production, 1940-present Tar sands production (projected) First successful well: 1866 Commercial production: 1908Cholangio carcinoma is a rare cancer; statistically, cases appear in one in every 100,000 people.Fort Chipewyan, Alberta lies downstream from the Canada’s tar sands, and has seen severalcases among its 1200 inhabitants in recent years. If the same rates were to occur among a largerpopulation, the results would be widely recognized as catastrophic:In Fort Chipewyan... 6 suspected cases ...means 500 cases... 4 reported cases ...means 333 cases... 2 confirmed cases ...means 166 cases... ...in a population of 100,000. A CT scan shows cholangiocarcinoma. -7-
  10. 10. Climate Chaos, World WideWill a lack of cheap oil collapse the economy beforean abundance of cheaper oil collapses the climate?Trinidad and Tobago has already experienced multiple enough to offset the much higher extraction costsshocks to the economy over the years, demonstrating because of the lack of conventional supplies alongsidethe economic vulnerability of a country dependent a continually rising demand (in particular for rapidlyupon oil. developing economies such as India or China).With conventional oilfields and many offshore fields Canada, like T&T, peaked in conventional crude pro-either peaked or well into decline throughout the na- duction in the 1970s and 80s. Tar sands today make uption, record high prices of oil in the last decade have the bulk of Canada’s oil production numbers, whichnot brought greater economic benefit nor security to are set to grow exponentially in the future.the country. Peak oil has led global energy companies such asIndeed, with daily production now averaging under Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil of Norway, BP of Britain,100,000 barrels of crude a day for 2011, the irrevers- TOTAL of France, Sinopec of China plus Exxon,ible decline of oil reserves has left Trinidad vulnerable ConocoPhilips and of course Sunoco of the US toeconomically. It also means the nation’s story is an focus internationally on new forms of extraction inalmost perfect mirror reflection of the global situation. general, and Canada’s tar sands in particular. By way of example, Shell has the bulk of their global reservesA reality check is in order. Current CO2 levels are at in dirty or unconventional reserves.over 390 parts per million (of carbon in the atmo-sphere). Experts on climate modelling state that 300 The exploitation of tar sands, aside from the impacts onparts per million is the only non-destructive level to local communities, has turned the Canadian govern-aim for, while 350 is the upper level of safe or control- ment into a climate change villain on the world stage.lable CO2. Suffice to say that at 390PPM, the prob- Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol at the end oflems of climate change are already hitting home. last year’s UN-organized climate meeting, the Confer- ence of the Parties (COP), despite being rebuked forThe escalating problems of climate change alongside doing so by activists around the world, including somethe fact that global reserves of conventional oil are members of the Chinese government delegation. either peaking soon or have already peaked is creating(literally and figuratively) the perfect storm. These international developments were followed up by federal legislation by Canada’s ruling ConservativePublic discussion of peak oil quieted alongside the Party, which decimated environmental oversight anddrop in oil prices at the start of the economic reces- monitoring on everything from oceans to reviews andsion. The reasons for the drop in oil prices were hearings on projects. Combine this with the cancella-misidentified as the refutation of peak oil, when they tion of various federal programs around climate changewere anything but. In fact, globally just as in Trinidad and new fiduciary requirements of federally recognizedand Tobago, extreme extraction such as the develop- charitable organizations that work on environmentalment of reserves of tar sands, mined oil shale, fracked issues, and a picture of the rampant anti-ecology ideol-oil from shale, extra heavy oil and ever deeper offshore ogy in Canada’s halls of power begins to emerge.wells all point towards peak oil. The hard to get oil isbeing targeted because the easy oil is gone or deplet- The stakes are high. The number one supplier to theing. The price of a barrel of heavy, dirty oil is high US energy grid every day is not Saudi Arabia but -8-
  11. 11. Canada; the number one source of that supply within Maldives are set to disappear, while temperatures riseCanada is tar sands (and by quite a margin) and the (and precipitation drops) in African nations, whichnumber one customer within the US energy grid is the will mean diminishing and disappearing food crops.US military. In order to minimize or prevent runaway climateDirtier bitumen, when converted to fuel, produces change (the point where climate warming begins tolarger volumes of higher quality jet fuel – some of release climate warming gases from permafrost in thewhich ends up in F-16s and drones flying and drop- Arctic regions, creating a snowball effect of uncontrol-ping bombs around the world over oil producing lable emission release and a higher temperature risecountries, so as to begin the extraction process anew. globally) the opposite of expanding the dirtiest fossil fuels is immediately needed.Peak oil and climate change have a particularly nastyconvergence when it comes to US imperialism. Tar sands, it can be said, hardwire oil-producing states to deeper reliance on oil for capital, while also rewir-Roughly, the plot is this: Peak oil leaves American en- ing the global energy grid onto ever dirtier fossil fuels.ergy interests to seek new supply. A war on Iraq com-bined with Hurricane Katrina (likely itself caused by On average, global oil consumption is over 82 mil-climate change) create record highs in global oil prices. lion barrels per day (mbpd). With Indian and ChineseThis leads to a rush on Canada’s tar sands, which are growth in particular, it is estimated that, unchecked,now affordable because oil prices spiked to more than the demand for oil may reach 110 mbpd within aUS$70 a barrel. A lack of resolution in the various wars couple of decades at the latest. This is likely impos-and conflicts in regions of the world with oil deposits sible, however, even if all these extreme extractionsthat could still be expanded – Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, were to arrive ahead of schedule. Conventional oil thatIran and so on – necessitated that the US military is cheaper and easier to extract continues to declinesecure more oil from other regions. In sum, tar sands around the world, while we do not have the energydevelopments reached a record development pace. needed to extract dirtier at such a rate.As the amount of oil extracted in Canada to maintain When supply cannot meet demand in a normalfuel supply to the US military has grown, so have carbon resource play, the resource becomes prohibitivelyemissions that cause climate change. expensive. When that happens for oil, however, the economy of country after country stalls and entersClimate change on a global level will hit low-lying a process of entropy. The perverse reality of a worldcountries, islands and central Africa first and hard- with dwindling conventional oil alongside a tatteredest. Scientists predict that island nations such as the and tarnished climate is a race for collapse.PHOTO: The Thunderhouse oil platform, located in the Gulf of Mexico, was severely damaged after Hurricane Dennis in 2005. google images. -9-
  12. 12. Major Tar/Oil Sands Deposits -10-
  13. 13. eposits and Projects in Trinidad -11-
  14. 14. What is rag?“This struggle permits us to become revolutionaries RAG seeks a new possibility of community. The com-the highest state a human being can achieve. Failing munity is the people.this it enables us to become men and women. Those ...who can attain neither of these states should say so It is commitment to societal transformation. Engag-and leave the struggle.” Che Guevara ing the possibility of community, of justice and peace, of love rooted in the life of our people and our Earth.RAG is a revolutionary organization. Such commitment takes place within the operational field of the RAG process. It is embodied in the collec-It is born of the sweat of those who struggle and of the tive struggle that is cadre and gathering.blood of those who die. ... ... This struggle is the struggle of and for Mother Earth.RAG is the flag. Radical all-consuming commitment to the Earth is aWe see young people waving it at Carnival…but what defining characteristic of our species, for Her we areis the rag? prepared to kill and to die. Let us not be found ... unworthy.A particularly special flag is the nation flag. This flaghas many crisscrossing colours, it represents a range This struggle is the miracle of possibility, the miracle ofof patterns/spiritual energies weaved together, a conflu- life itself, the miracle that such an organization exists.ence of communities, cultures, traditions… “nations”.The flag represents this the primal unity of all our Burton Sankerallipeople’s lifegiving energies. RAG is to be organically May 22, 2006rooted in this the substance of our people’s life. Rights Action Group executive. Contact: bsankeralli@yahoo.comRAG is a movement of transformation. ... PHOTO: Pitch Lake
  15. 15. Tar sands or Oil Sands? Both terms represent the same thing, a deposit of bitumen mixed with clays and sands and silts. “Oil sands” has become the official term in a rebranding effort by energy companies and the different levels of government in Canada. Many opponents of bitumen extraction methods prefer “tar” due to the fact that many local indigenous populations used bitumen found on the river banks to patch their canoes centuries ago, much as one would use tar to patch a leaky roof in the modern era. Neither term is fully accurate, as “bitumen sands” would be even closer to the reality. Oil sands in Trinidad’s southwest penninsula often refers to small scale quarries which pro- duce an asphalt substitute. Bitumen Bitumen is the hydrocarbon based pre-oil lumpy building block that can ultimately be syn- thesized into a crude like substance for further refining. Much heavier than even heavy oil, it cannot flow in a pipeline until mixed together with a kerosene like by-product called either diluent or condensate. With far greater energy inputs than conventional light oil bitu- men can be upgraded and ultimately refined into a substitute for almost all oil related prod- ucts (such as gasoline, jet fuel and petro chemical by-products such as fertilizers or plastics). Mining (tar sands) A process for extracting the bulk of the Canadian tar sands currently and likely the main extraction planned in Trinidad. Mining occurs in areas where the bitumen in place is too shallow to extract “in-situ”, or “in place”. Mining involves removing all tree cover, all existing plant life and stripping any waterways from above the bitumen deposit. It then brings it to the plant and eventually the upgrader through the use of giant shovels and trucks (in Cana- da the trucks are called “heavy haulers”). In-situ (extraction of tar sands) In-situ is a Latin term for “in place” that will ultimately be the method of approximately 80 per cent of tar sands extraction in Canada if every project possible were to go ahead. In-situ operations are multiple and varied but all remove the bitumen from the earth through in the ground extraction that does not involve mining. In-situ operations average similar fresh water rates and three times higher energy use than mining, meaning a much greater nega- tive impact on the climate.background image: google images -13-
  16. 16. Spin CyclePushing tar sands means goinginto public relations overdriveThe story of the tar sands in Trinidad isn’t exactly a be more attentivenew one. A joint feasibility assessment of the tar sands to First Nationsin T&T was first carried out back in the 80s and 90s, needs. There isending in 1995. There were other events, reports, still no such thingdiscussions and planning through the 90s involving as meaningfulCanadian government officials and businessmen. The consultation. Thisstarter gun was finally fired in 2007, when the Royal pledge is non-bindingBank of Canada (RBC) bought out the Royal Bank of and does not require that communitiesTrinidad and Tobago. give a go-ahead to projects nor has it resulted in a sin- gle penny being divested from any Canadian project.The starter gun RBC partially restored Canadian financial At the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colom-was finally fired dominance to the bia, in April 2012, talks about the tar sands took placein 2007, when the island by making between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago. RBC the second larg-Royal Bank of est financial institution According to international media reports, Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Kamla Persad-BissessarCanada (RBC) in the country. Banking along with T&T Minister of Energy Kevin Ramnarine dominance from Canadabought out the – through Scotiabank, discussed how Canada can be involved in the develop- ment of Trinidadian bitumen.Royal Bank of CIBC and RBC today– is not new to Trinidad. TheTrinidad and difference is, this time it Of note for these discussions were PM Kamla’s and Minister Ramnarine’s statements about TrinidadTobago. also brings the largest single being a “a tar sands frontier in the making,” while financier of tar sands operations inCanada to a local head office in Port-of-Spain. promoting the industry to Harper. According to the Trinidad Express, Ramnarine made mention of twoSandra Odendahl is the Royal Bank’s Director of Cor- billion barrels to Harper, earning the label of crusaderporate Environmental Affairs. She spoke at the Hilton for such development.in Port-of-Spain at a Green Business Forum in March2011, hosted by the Environmental Management Au- Since the end of the Caratagena summit, what pressthority [EMA]. Odendahl spoke to local media about there has been regarding tar sands development inusing the model for consultation in Trinidad that has Trinidad has shifted to Canadian corporate terminol-been developed in Canada, in particular around oil ogy and language. Now, instead of tar sands, using oilsands and First Nations alongside other stakeholders. sands is the preferred label.RBC has promoted their investment in the develop- Indeed, talk of in-situ developments and their suppos-ment of Canadian tar sands as a model for T&T. RBC edly less destructive environmental impacts have evenhad been the target of a divestment campaign in come from the Trinbagonian High Commissioner toNorth America, which was pre-emptively called off by Canada, despite the fact that the majority of bitumenthe Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in December in place in Trinidad is too shallow for any extraction2010 after a vague, non-specific promise by RBC to other than mining. -14-
  17. 17. Dirty oil incorporatedHow tar sands extraction went globalTar sands technology and know-how from Alberta are for contracts in places such as Nigeria, Madagascar,being exported by multinational corporations and the Albania, Romania, Russia, various US states (notablygovernment of Canada itself to places all around the Utah and Alaska), the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)world, beyond just Trinidad and Tobago. and Venezuela. With the exception of relatively small production in the vast Venezuelan Orinoco belt, noneBefore the US-led invasion of Iraq and the impact of of the non-Canadian deposits have seen commercialHurricane Katrina combined to produce record prices production. At least not yet.of oil in the world, Canada’s tar sands developmentsinched along, aided by federal government subsidies In Madagascar, TOTAL SA of France and a smalland tax breaks. Until recently, other countries in the American company calling itself Madagascar Oil seekworld that possessed bitumen (and there are over 70) to extract two major fields (Bemolanga and Tsimirorohad taken almost no steps to develop their deposits respectively), with the larger mine proposed at justinto synthetic crude oil. shy of 200,000 barrels of mined synthetic crude a day. This would leave Madagascar and its arid MelakyAlongside the breakneck speed of Canadian tar sands region with the seconddevelopment in the years following the global reces- largest tar sands Alongside thesion has been a revolution in oil extraction, by whichunconventional, dirty, expensive deposits became developments on breakneck speed of the planet. Similarfinancially viable. The inflated price of a barrel of though smaller Canadian tar sandscrude is matched by the reduction in extraction costs,partnered with the peak in oil production around mining is proposed by development ENI of Italy in the Repub-the planet. This peak has meant that global economic lic of Congo (Brazzaville). in the yearsshocks such as in 2009 will now only drop the price ofa barrel of oil temporarily at best. Demand continues Nigeria is now opening following the blocks of tar sandsto escalate as a trend while cheap, accessible conven- for international global recessiontional oil supplies contract. bidding, while has been a revolution Utah in the USAs a result of dwindling conventional supplies, deep- is close to getting in oil extraction,er and more dangerous offshore production is set toexpand; shale oil from hydraulic fracturing (frack- a go-ahead for an by which open-cast mine operateding) is now sucked out of the ground across North by a start-up Canadian unconventional,America and elsewhere; and mining or “bleeding”kerogen out of oil shale rocks in a fashion similar to company in one of the dirty, expensive more arid land basestar sands bitumen extraction is a disastrous indus- south of the Cana- deposits becametry in its infancy. Still, the biggest prize to extremeextractors are tar sands. dian border. financially viable. None of this includesCanadian processes have reduced the cost of mining projects in nations such as China and Russia, not not-tar sands to often less than $25 [US] a barrel, and in- ed for their environmental commitments in pursuitsitu operations are on pace to reduce costs to similar of industry. Venezuela also seeks to involve Chineselevels. This is leading to an international scramble interests in bitumen and extra heavy oil developments. -15-
  18. 18. Myth vs. Fact Myth: Tar sands and similar extreme forms of oil can replace conventional oil, and supplies are so large globally as to mean centuries of further oil consump- tion at escalating rates. Fact: Tar sands, oil shale and other non-conventional supplies of synthetic oil consume far more energy than conventional oil, and cannot be produced at a rate sufficient to replace Middle Eastern, North Sea or Russian oil supplies. Myth: In-situ or in place tar sands development is less environmentally dam- aging and consumes less water than other forms of tar sands extraction. Fact: In some in-situ operations, many times more water is consumed than tar sands mining, and all in-situ operations consume an average of three times the energy to produce oil. Myth: Canada is a progressive, environmentally conscious country. Fact: Canada’s government is one of Israel’s staunchest allies and the govern- ment has repeatedly won the Climate Fossil award for its anti-environmental- ist record. Myth: Canadians have excellent, clean technology by which to exploit the tar sands. Fact: The tar sands is one of the dirtiest industrial projects on earth, in Cana- da or elsewhere. Myth: Canada has high environmental standards. By changing laws, higher environmental standards can likewise be applied elsewhere, preventing con- tamination. Fact: Canada has extremely lax environmental legislation, allowing, for ex- ample, freshwater lakes to be used for the disposal of mine waste.background image: google images -16-
  19. 19. Big win against dirty smeltersCulture of resistance stops aluminum barons intheir tracksIn the early days of a fight that would capture the “And we didn’t put up no ignorant fight with Alutrint,imagination of people throughout Trinidad and To- we just get our evidence and proof to the people wherebago, a woman named Alice Murray wrote a succinct the smelter was not a healthy thing for the commu-note to Wade Hughes, the Director General Business nity and we worked really hard in convincing someDevelopment and Public Strategy with Alcoa, the people,” he said. Carter participated with hundreds ofworld’s largest aluminum company. others in a roadside camp over five or six months, as well as pickets as part of a mass campaign.It is wrong, she wrote, for the interests of one compa-ny to preside over an entire community’s interest. It is Against all odds, the people won.wrong to destroy eight places of worship to make wayfor one company. It is wrong to tear down schools, “In my lifetime, I can’t think of any other environ-community centers, a youth camp and a health center mental struggle, other than a proposal to put a moviefor one company. It wrong to decimate the natural theater on a mangrove, that has captured nationalworld. There is something wrong, she concluded, attention,” said Atillah Springer, a journalist and com-when the government is the main offender. munity activist involved in resistance to the smelters. “It definitely became a national issue.”Alcoa wanted to build a smelter that would producehundreds of thousands of metric tons of aluminum During their struggle against the smelters, people ina year in Chattam, a rural town. The government of resistance were criminalized and linked to narcotraf-T&T signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ficking, in an attempt to smear their movement. Theythe company in 2004, before consulting with local were not deterred, however, and persevered.residents. Around the same time, a consortium ofcompanies known as Alutrint was planning another Tying their campaign of resistance to other events tak-smelter in LaBrea. Both smelters, along with other ing place in Trinidad and Tobago, the folks organizingproposed industrial projects, were part of a Master against smelter projects got their word out far andGas Plan embraced by the government of T&T in wide. A woman was covered in aluminum foil beforeorder to monetize natural gas reserves. singing the national anthem, drawing attention andIn response to the smelter proposals, the womenand men of La Brea, Cedros, Chatham, Cap de Ville,Union Village, Square Deal, Vessigny, Otaheite, ofClaxton Bay, of Pranz Gardens, and supporters fromSt Augustine, Curepe, Port of Spain and elsewherewent on to mount a David vs. Goliath campaignagainst smelters.“We proved to most of the people that the smelterwasn’t the right thing for the area. The main main is-sue was the health, not jobs, but just the health was aconcern,” said Anslim Carter, a resident of Vessigny,next to the smelter site.PHOTO: Bumper sticker near La Brea.ARTICLE: Dawn Paley -17-
  20. 20. news coverage from unexpected quarters. “There was Austin’s words seem especially prescient today, as newan aggressive move on our part to get national inter- proposals for tar sands extraction threaten some ofest,” said Springer in an interview from London, Eng- the same regions protected from destruction by braveland, where she was participating in cultural events anti-smelter campaigners. The stakes are high, andlinked to the 50th anniversary of T&T independence. there is no doubt the U.S. government continues to monitor the level of organization of communities andAfter a concerted national campaign, the government people in Trinidad and Tobago.killed the Alutrint project in 2010. “It was the logicaland scientific thing to do,” said environmentalist and The next struggle, against the tar sands, could berevolutionary Dr Wayne Kublalsingh upon learning even more difficult than the battle against the smelt-that construction was halted. Alcoa was also stopped ers. Since the victory against the smelters, in whichin their tracks. some politicians supported local residents in rejecting industrial megaprojects, elections have changed theAt the time, representatives of the U.S. State Depart- face of power in T&T, bringing in a government thatment in Port of Spain, who keep close tabs on the Springer calls “anti-community.”status of U.S. companies abroad, took note of the levelof mobilization against the smelter projects. “The Many of the stakes in this new struggle are familiar.vehemence of public debate over aluminum may also Tar sands extraction is as dirty as any smelter, and itforeshadow increased opposition to future industrial will also need new infrastructure in order to get offprojects in T&T,” wrote former U.S. Ambassador Roy the ground. In addition, like the smelters, tar sandsAustin. “There are also growing calls for a national operators will be keen on getting cheap natural gassustainable development framework, especially in ref- to run their energy intensive operations. The govern-erence to ‘mega-projects,’ and greater public involve- ment of Trinidad and Tobago has been just as sneakyment in determining the path of Trinidad’s develop- with tar sands proponents as they were with Alutrintment,” continued Austin. and Alcoa, hiding from the public many important details about the tar sands.PHOTO: Mothballed refinery at Point Fortin -18-
  21. 21. Stop the PaveCamp-out against highway continuesOn May first, international workers day, dozens of This direct action was one among many, which in-people got to work on a revolutionary new food for- cluded the erection of a protest camp in Debe againstest. Just after dawn, they plowed the land, tilling the the highway expansion. Together, these events haverich soil. Then, they lined up and planted pineapples, brought national and international attention to acassava, and sugar apple trees. Maybe it sounds like a struggle with deep roots in local communities.typical day in the fields. It wasn’t. Women residents have been making noise about theThe land in question is slated to become a highway. impacts of the proposed highway for some time now,“They want to take paradise and turn it into a parking but the buzz around the highway project was ampli-lot,” said Atillah Springer, a journalist and organizer. fied by the protest camp actions.“This is our land. We taking it back. We don’t need Part of the new highway proposal would see a 47 kilo-permission from anybody,” Ameena Mohammed, a meter long, four lane divided highway running fromlocal resident, told The Guardian while she planted a San Fernando to Point Fortin. The section contestedcoconut tree. by the Highway Re-route movement is a separate addition to this new highway, which would run fromMAP: Monique Walker, greentnt.org. ARTICLE: Dawn Paley -19-
  22. 22. PHOTO: Soldiers and police officers handcuff lead activist of the Highway Re-route Movement, Wayne Kublalsingh, during thecamp’s demolition. They rebuilt the camp three days later. PHOTO: facebookDebe to Mon Desir, impacting 13 communities in the instructed by Minister Warner, Minister of NationalOropouche Lagoon, and include the construction of Security,” said Kublalsingh.an interchange. Following the second eviction, campers moved to erectThe battle is about far more than a highway. It is about a new camp, one on privately owned land, and anotherthe future and the past of the country. in front of the Palace of Justice in Port of Spain. The camp in the capital was taken down in early August as aAccording to Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh, if built, the $7.2 court case against the eviction got started.billion roadway would destroy 1,000 acres of farm-land, destroy 300 homes, and create permanent flood- “One of the issues we’re challenging in court, whethering. “The amount of damage it will do, I don’t think is they had a right to destroy that camp, I mean, legallyjustified,” he said. whether they had the legal right to do it, and also my detention,” said Kublalsingh.People who for generations have lived in the serene la-goon area stand to lose their land and their connection When the highways were first proposed in 2004, theyto it. Or, in the words of the Highway Re-route Com- may have been part of an industrialization plan thatmittee, “Peaceful and empowered communities would included two proposed smelters, which were alsobe broken up, and homesteads and farms seized.” shut down as part of a movement which Kublalsingh helped support.“They can’t done pay me money for this,” Ivan Ram-dass, whose grandfather settled the land and raised Though the government is seriously entertaining pro-nine children farming on Banwarie Trace, told Trini- posals to set up tar sands in Trinidad and Tobago, it isdad Express. “How can they want to just shove you out too early to link the highway construction – some ofjust so? And what they giving us in return?” which could eventually benefit companies involved in extraction – to the tar sands.The level of repression used by the government inevicting the protest encampment from the highway’s “Whether there is a link between the highway andpath shows how important this infrastructure is to the tar sands, I really cannot say, I cannot say that forthe state. When the camp was destroyed the first time, sure,” said Kublalsingh.none other than National Security Minister Jack War-ner was there to oversee the police and soldiers who While campers maintain a presence in the lagoon area,carried out the job using heavy machinery. “The first keeping a watchful eye for any signs of movement,time it was the soldiers, a minimum of police, maybe another group will fill the courtrooms, confident thatfive or six, there were 30 or 40 soldiers, they were they can stop the pave by appealing to justice. -20-
  23. 23. AH  PLAYIN Stop! Stop! Stop! And crawled out from the pri- Yeaaah…! And doh get tie up mordial slime Robber doh play Robber You mocking pretender In the very beginning of time Tief doh play tiefYuh might see mih in suit and And having learned the fine and I am the King of international tie obscure art of… disorderSo yuh say doh bodder wit… Perambulation My wuk is to hand you grief dat guy I stalk de high and de low Globally I rape and I plunder Or in a ole juzzy… Devouring all Wrecking havoc … we call it… Doh worry wit he. Where e’er I go “the economic order” But yuh bonx yuh head I traffic in wars bloodshed dis- Yes… ease drought famine… Robber doh play robber Industrial destruction and envi- Now tell me… Tief doh play tief ronmental degradation Bandit does play bandit? We does play And all manners of murder and Tief does play tief? Politician police …and pries’… mayhem… No…! De tree “p”s That which you may know asDem does play police and poli- Having you at dere mercy the capitalist system… tician An’ big time businessman It is I who does empty your Oh ho… treasury Robber doh play Robber Well in de same way As I own your body Tief doh play tief Robber doh play Robber While enslaving your mind And of dese I am King And I am indeed verifiably Having my way wit your girl I am de big big biggest Chief De dreadest dreadest dread chirren Prince ah robbers And leave your sons bleeding in An’ king of tief de street Yeah is me who have youIt is I who primevally ascended suffrin in poverty from the deepest darkest In my alphabet there is no “m” bottomless pit Yes yes yes! for mercy Robber doh play Robber For I am clearly and definitively Tief doh play tief And most certitudinously… Dey does play men of A walking one Robber… peace State of emergency! Because all I want… IS PIECE!!!!!! Doh bonx yuh head! Piece of yuh heart Burton Sankeralli Pierce of yuh Rights Action Group soul Carnival Sunday 2012 Piece of de planet PHOTO: Burton Sankeralli Man ah eatin it reads a poem at whole… Independence Square -21-
  24. 24. Everyone’s Downstream 2012 Trinidad and Tobagoa conference on environmental issues and in opposition to tar sands developmentConference to be held in the Twin Island Nation at the endof November. Check everyonesdownstream.org for details.