Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Alberta tar sands equipment supplier opens in Billings, Montana

Alberta tar sands equipment supplier opens in Billings

By KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian | June 9, 2010

A major supplier of equipment to the rapidly expanding oil and gas market in the Alberta tar sands has set up shop in Billings.

Berry Y&V Fabricators plans to assemble modules in Montana and truck them north to the oil sands fields near Fort McMurray, according to a report last week in the Edmonton Journal.

Jack Dill, a senior vice president with one of Berry Y&V's affiliates in Houston, Texas, told the Journal's Gary Lamphier that the Billings plant hasn't won any module order for Imperial Oil's

$8 billion Kearl project. But it's bidding on future projects for ConocoPhillips and CNRL, among others.

"We've already done a study on transporting these large modules up to Fort McMurray," Dill said. "We haven't done the first big one yet, but we've got some smaller modules in our shop now for the biofuels industry."



The head of Imperial Oil in Canada told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday that the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico means "nothing good" for Alberta's tar sands.

"I don't know that anyone is going to step back and say that another form or another location of oil development is better," Bruce March, Imperial's CEO, said after a speech to the Economic Club in the Canadian capital. "The real challenge here is to gain the trust of people of the world back."

March also said it's time to "put this mistruth to rest" that greenhouse-gas emissions in the tar sands fields are three times higher than from conventional wells, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

March said it's Imperial's intent to leave "no evidence that we were ever there" after a project is completed. He added that oil executives will speak out publicly and companies will bolster advertising to counter such claims.

On the same day, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers issued a 1,000-word news release addressing protests at Lush stores across North America. The soap and beauty products retailer, along with Rainforest Action Network, rallied Wednesday against the tar sands, which they call "the most destructive project on Earth."

The petroleum association said the protests are "based on misinformation, rhetoric - not facts."


Alberta's minister of transportation laid out the travel plan for Imperial Oil's Kearl Oil Sand Project modules from the Port of Coutts to the fields near Fort McMurray.

The modules will first be trucked from the Port of Lewiston, Idaho, through western and north-central Montana.

"We anticipate a maximum of six modules per week commencing October of this year," Luke Ouellette wrote to Hugh MacDonald, a member of Alberta's Liberal Opposition Caucus, in a letter dated June 2.

"The maximum dimensions of the modules are expected to be 7.3 metres (24 feet) wide and 9.0 metres (29 1/2 feet) in height, which is standard for superload moves in the province."

Ouellette said most of the route is via Alberta's High Load Corridor, which has been upgraded over the years to accommodate loads 9 meters high without escort. Imperial Oil will spend $4 million to permanently raise or bury distribution and transmission lines at 138 locations along the rest of the route south of Brooks, Alberta, Ouelette told MacDonald.

Modifications to three railway crossings, two warning lights and two signal lights will cost the company another $250,000.

"These upgrades will prove to be a future benefit to the province along with the direct revenue received through permit fees, which are estimated at $11,000 on average per load with a maximum cost of $13,054 for the heaviest load," he said.

"Furthermore, we expect to see a major portion of the remaining modules and structures to be fabricated in the Edmonton region."


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