September 9, 2009

Fort Berthold in the middle of tar sands oil debate

Fort Berthold in the middle of tar sands oil debate
Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series looking at the building of a refinery on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation northwest of Makoti. The proposed refinery has been in the works for several years and became a step closer to reality on Sept. 9 when EPA tentatively announced the issuance of a permit for wastewater. Proponents say the refinery will create jobs and help the reservation economy and opponents are concerned about air and water quality issues.

By MARVIN BAKER
EDITOR
When you talk to Canadians about the tar sands of northern Alberta, many of them will tell you that quite a lot of what you hear is exaggeration. But, there are some legitimate concerns that have plenty of the locals worried about the Canadian environment and their neighbors in North Dakota.
Tar sands oil, which is a heavy, thick, crude oil, would be the oil piped to Makoti should a proposed refinery be built there. Oil companies sometimes strip mine an area to get closer to the oil. The tar sands are located in and around Fort McMurray, Alberta, a community made famous during World War II when it became a staging area for the building of the Alaska Highway.
The tar sands are said to be as large as the state of Florida, stretching from Fort McMurray south to Edmonton and east to the Saskatchewan border near Lloydminster. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) has reported the tar sands have the biggest oil reserve in the world outside of Saudi Arabia.
That would mean a perpetual source of crude coming to Makoti to be processed into fuel products, which in turn, would mean 100 plus jobs and a vibrant economy in a community that is now struggling to survive. The Fort Berthold refinery is said to have the capacity to process 13,000 to 15,000 barrels per day.
 


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