Andrew Willis: Cleaning up the oil sands mess
- May 12, 2008 8:03 AM |
- By Michael Hlinka
Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).
By Andrew Willis, a columnist with the Globe and Mail
(Listen to the original audio)
There are days I wish I had studied environmental engineering - not journalism - back at university. I'd be Alberta-bound right now. There's good money to be made in mining the oil sands and there's even better money to be made in cleaning up the mess.
It took the deaths of 500 ducks last week to wake people up to the dirty little secret of the oil sands - they're a bit of an environmental nightmare. The ducks died in what's known as a tailings pond run by Syncrude. It's the muck that's left over, after the oil is separated from the sand.
There are a lot of tailings ponds around. If that means a lot of dead mallards, there's obviously problem.
You've got alarmist saying environmental issues are going to stop development of the oil sands. With all due respect, that's just nonsense.
The oil sands are central to North America's energy needs. The U.S. ambassador to Canada talks about Alberta oil all the time. These projects are important - we just have to come to grip with the environmental costs.
That's where the engineers come in.
There are companies springing up in Alberta that focus on cleaning up the soil and the water after the oil is gone. No-one talked much about these companies in the past, but they will be star performers in the future.
And here's an interesting little deal you probably didn't hear much about: One of the biggest players in oil patch waste got bought last year. The company was called CCS Income Trust. It fetched a hefty $3.5 billion.
The buyer was a constorium led by Goldman Sachs, the big investment bank. The smart money has already figured out there's more than one way to make a fortune in oil.
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