Where is Your Crude Oil Coming From?

Photo by @sahxic < twitter | flickr.com

I’ll admit that my first thought when I get into my car and start up the engine is usually where I am going – not how I am actually getting there.  I think this is true for most people in North America, no matter how scarce or frequent it is they drive.  However, the actual manufacturing of a car, gasoline, and oil required to make a car run relies on a number of resources from the earth. Oil, for instance, is one of the most intensive resources to extract from the earth.

Having to dig deep into the earth’s core, refine, and transport oil requires numerous careful steps, and if these are not completed correctly, serious harm can come about.   

In the past seven weeks there have been three large oil spills in Alberta – one of which caused 475 000 liters of oil to be leaked into Red Deer River.  Unfortunately, with over 400 000 km of pipelines in Alberta alone, oil spills are common.  Roughly 300 oil spills occur annually throughout Alberta and have obvious implications on wildlife, human health, and, of course, the environment.

Many environmentalists point to the aging infrastructure and lack of proper regulation of the pipelines in Canada.  Some environmental groups, like the Alberta Surface Rights Group, are urging for a third party outside of the government to take over the regulation of the pipelines, especially with the proposed Northern Gateway project (for more information on this project, click here). 

Despite the abundance of spills throughout Alberta, the rest of Canada and the world, the general public seems to be unaware of many spills that happen. Even with rules and regulations that require oil companies to report all spills, they often lack the media coverage, flying under the radar of the general public.

Although, we can talk about our reliance on oil, the fact of the matter is people are still going to drive their cars.  However, being conscious of where these resources come from and the implications that happen along the way is an important feat in itself.

Organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation are working to help prevent a major oil spill in Canada like the Gulf of Mexico saw in 2010.  You can also help by simply sharing your knowledge about the frequency and abundance of oil spills that occur right here in Canada.  Maybe then people will also consider how their car is getting them to where they are going.