Enbridge: Truth Shifter

Juanita Hadwin

As an economist, I am troubled by continued attempts by Enbridge to misrepresent the facts of this project, even as these facts pertain to their own analysis. In an opinion piece in The Vancouver Sun last week, Enbridge executive Janet Holder claimed, “The Northern Gateway pipeline represents a $6.5-billion investment in our economy. It will create 3,000 jobs during construction and 560 permanent British Columbia jobs.”

This is just not true.

Enbridge’s analysis assumes Alberta will export the same volume of crude oil whether or not Northern Gateway proceeds. So whether the project is built through B.C., or elsewhere in Canada, Enbridge believes billions in capital investment will be made no matter what the outcome of the board’s decision. Therefore, there will be no economic loss to Canada’s economy if the National Energy Board rejects the project. Enbridge’s basic assumption renders their impact analysis as nothing more than double counting and negates their ability to claim benefits.

Even if Enbridge assumed oilsands crude would be shut-in if Northern Gateway were not built — and hence their project might represent new investment in the economy — a significant portion of the project’s capital cost relates to the condensate import line. Condensate is used to mix with oilsands bitumen to move the heavy, tar-like product down a pipeline. Canada does not produce enough condensate and is becoming increasingly dependent on foreign markets so big oil can turn around and export it back out again mixed with their bitumen.

Not only has Enbridge failed to consider the economic opportunity cost to the Canadian economy of importing condensate instead of upgrading bitumen to synthetic crude oil in Alberta, it consistently pawns off capital spending and operation of the condensate import pipeline as if it were an economic benefit to Canada instead of an economic drain.

Claiming Northern Gateway will create 3,000 jobs during construction does not pass the truth meter either. This is the same claim Enbridge made in its Path to the Future ad campaign last year. This number comes from Volume 6C of their application, but its 3,029 person years of construction employment is for three months in the third year of a four-year project.

Person-years of employment are not jobs. If you work for a company for five years as a carpenter or an electrician: that is a job. Enbridge would call it five. Digging deeper into Enbridge’s own analysis reveals that construction jobs from Northern Gateway are just over 1,000 — not the 3,000 they claim.

That doesn’t mean they are guaranteed jobs for British Columbians or Albertans as they may go to anyone, even offshore temporary workers.

And now for the permanent B.C. jobs claim. The 650 permanent jobs come from the same document as the construction employment figures. Only 78 jobs are related to the actual project. The rest are estimates of employment from direct input purchases, indirect and induced impacts over 30 years.

For example, if Enbridge needs to repair its dock at the marine terminal, people who make the materials would be included as part of the direct input purchases, while the delivery truck driver would be included in the jobs allocated to indirect impacts. When the delivery truck driver buys a beer with the money she made delivering supplies, the bartender who serves her has his job included as part of the induced category. Only 12 per cent of the projected 650 jobs in B.C. come from operating the pipeline and marine facilities.

In the interests of transparency and accountability, British Columbians deserve better than what Enbridge seems capable of delivering.

Robyn Allan is an economist and former CEO of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. She provided evidence on economic, financial and insurance issues related to Enbridge’s application to the national energy board and appeared as an expert witness at the hearings.”

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