On June 8 and 9, the Great Lakes Commission held a symposium to discuss oil transportation issues in the Great Lakes region. The symposium, which was held in Cleveland, OH, presented three new research papers commissioned by the GLC to discuss “the current state of crude oil infrastructure, the economic impact of crude oil transportation, and environmental sensitivity of Great Lakes waters to oil exposure.” The research papers were released via a GLC press announcement on June 7.
Oil transportation has been a controversial topic in the Great Lakes basin as of late. Residents, environmental activists, politicians, and academics have expressed fears about the safety of Enbridge’s aging Line 5, located between Lakes Huron and Michigan. Concerns mount over Enbridge’s proposed Line 3, planned to skirt along the edge of Lake Superior, and the TransCanada Corporation’s Energy East pipeline, proposed to run through the Lake Superior basin north of Thunder Bay, and across the Nipigon River, the largest river entering the Great Lakes.
Titled “Crude Move: Oil Transportation Infrastructure, Economics, Risks, Hazards, and Lessons Learned,” the symposium was open to the public via webinar broadcast. The Crude Move symposium boasts that it was the first of its kind to focus on discussions around regional transportation, how crude moves, economics and financial analysis of the region’s oil industry, hazards and risk, emergency response, and lessons learned from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region and the New Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to presenting the three research papers (links provided below), the symposium also saw the debut of a website with research resources for crude oil transport. The website collects a series of publications on crude oil transport risks and benefits, as well as a series of webinars that were conducted by Ohio Sea Grant in summer 2016. The GLC reported in its June 2017 issue of The Advisor newsletter that reportage and videos of the symposium will be posted to their Oil Transportation in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Region project site as soon as they’re available.
The papers were commissioned using a grant from the Mott Foundation in August 2015. The GLC is careful to note that the opinions, findings, and conclusions in the research papers represent those of the authors.
Taken from the GLC’s website, the papers are summarized as follows:
Author: Dr. Bradley Hull (John Carroll University)
Summary: This paper reviews the crude oil pipeline, rail, and waterborne infrastructure in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region. It briefly discusses the region’s refineries as well as infrastructure projects outside of the region that may have a significant impact on the region. The paper also discusses crude oil supply projections and the impact which might be expected in the region.
Authors: Dr. Marcello Graziano (Central Michigan University); Peter Gunther (Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, University of Connecticut); and Dr. Eva Lema (Central Michigan University)
Summary: This report presents an introductory analysis to the economic contribution of crude oil transportation across the Great Lakes Region, while presenting currently available data.
Authors: Dr. Jerome Marty (University of Waterloo); Adrian Nicoll, (Carleton University)
Summary: The objective of this study is to complete a sensitivity analysis to oil exposure in the Great Lakes, based on a spatial, multimodal approach that includes oil transported via marine, rail, and pipeline transport modes. This analysis provides a visual tool to compare the contribution of the sensitivity of various sources of oil transported in the Great Lakes basin.