Saturday, January 28, 2017

The effects of pipelines. Helpful or harmful?

Most of today's news is filled with information about protests against pipelines such as the Keystone XL pipeline of the Dakota access pipeline. Protesters claim that it is harmful to the environment and infringes on the historical significance the land has to certain groups. How much of this is true? What are the alternatives to pipelines? Can we stop this tide if progression? -Amount of oil transported by train.

Please look at the links above and any additional resources you can find and come charged to this Tuesdays meeting.


  1. I support the idea of an oil pipeline. I don't support the idea of an oil pipeline because I want to desecrate burial grounds or contaminate water. I respect the tribes involved in the DAPL protests, and I understand their concerns. The reason I support the idea of an oil pipeline is because it is the best choice we have to transport large volumes of oil.

    First, we need to realize that demand has created a market for oil. We want it, and if we don't buy it "locally", we will buy it from other places which involves transporting it over greater distances, probably over oceans. This would involve the use of a lot of energy to transport the oil, reducing the Return on Energy (ROE) of the oil we use. ROE is the amount of energy you get from a barrel of oil vs. the amount of energy you spent to get that oil to market. Currently, there are pipelines leading down to the Gulf Coast. These pipelines bring heavy Canadian oil, what some people call dirty oil due to the high levels of sulfur, down to the refineries for processing. The idea of dirty oil is kind of a misnomer, as the vast majority of sulfur will be removed during refining, and the difference between "sour" i.e. dirty oil and "sweet" i.e. not dirty oil is relatively small. DAPL and other associated pipeline projects will connect and expand on the already existing pipelines in the area. This will allow companies to meet market demands for petroleum products.

    Since oil and oil products are in high demand, we need to find ways to transport these products safely and cheaply. Oil pipelines are the best choice, and they are the best choice because of safety, cleanliness, and cost.

    First, safety. In 2013, the Lac-Megantic rail explosion happened. A train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire as it was passing through a small town. The resulting explosion killed 47 people. Transporting by truck leads to more diffuse casualty numbers, but when added, they actually lead to more deaths than by rail. Pipelines are very rarely involved in incidents which cause serious injury or death.

    Cleanliness is a measure of how much oil the transportation method spills. This is usually done on a barrels spilled per barrel delivered basis. About a decade ago, there was a marked difference between pipelines and train spillage. While trains spills happen more frequently, they usually involve much smaller volumes. Pipelines were spilling more objectively, and on a per barrel delivered basis. However, this has changed, and currently, pipelines spill just a little more than trains and are equal if not a little better when it comes to barrels spilled per barrel delivered.

    Finally, on the basis of cost, while the initial costs of building a pipeline are high, the cost of delivery through a pipeline is many times less than by train or truck. This is the primary reason why this method of transportation is desirable to companies.

    As long as oil needs to go to market, I don't really think the question is whether we build a pipeline or not. It should be about where it would be best for the pipeline to run.

  2. I agree that a pipeline is the most effective way to transport oil, when compared with other modes of transport. the real issues that surround pipelines are more to do with the property that the pipeline would occupy and the rights that are thereby associated. the challenge becomes determining if the burial rights of a group of people are more important than the water rights of another. is this determined by how much the individual groups would be willing to pay? what if the groups are on unequal economic footing such that one would be able to pay a price that is higher than what the other would be able to pay, whether or not they may be willing? in short, Pipelines are the best technology that we have at the moment for transporting oil, but I ask how are we going to determine who's rights we will compromise?

  3. I can understand and empathize with the concerns of the Native American people who will have a potentially dangerous pipeline running through their land, but that data on pipeline accidents and railroad accidents seems to indicate that these occurrences are rare. Unless the government is mistaken and we should question the integrity of such an authority, in which case the free market would better perform this function with independent third party researchers and evaluators of course with input from the tribes. I find it interesting that people are raising Hell over this pipeline when the entire country is crisscrossed with thousands of miles of oil pipelines. Are people all of a sudden going to stop relying on crude oil in their homes and to run their cars? I don't believe that eventuality is forthcoming. As long as we are reliant on fossil fuels which for the foreseeable future is pretty much 100% guaranteed, I believe oil pipeline and fossil fuels are our best friends. If anyone wants to look into it there is a wonderful book written by Alex Epstein named " The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels." Some of the engineering majors from last week alluded to it during our discussion on climate change and I just though I would be helpful to link it here:

  4. This is an excellent topic given the current administration and the recent executive order allowing both pipelines to continue. Our motel in Colorado has been dependent on oil and natural gas companies and their workers for the majority of our sales during the last 13 years. Without pipelines, small businesses suffer. Thousands of people are employed prior to and including the creation of the pipeline. There are many jobs after as well to maintain and facilitate the transportation of the product produced. Small towns have an abililty to thrive with fossil fuel exploration. I personally hope the oil boom comes back to Colorado soon so my mom might be able to sell her motel.

    The pipeline must be agreed upon by all parties before it can begin. I think the executive government does not have the right to dictate an order to begin. Burial grounds are sacred. I understand that but I think the ways of both people must be taken into account.kobs will be created which puts money into the economy possibly creating more jobs. I think the pipelines should be allowed to continue while we search for other ways to produce energy that consume fewer resources more economically. The more money made, the more can be put into the market.