Ethical Oil Cartoon Used by Enbridge Showed Scowling Persian Gulf Gas Pump

By Campbell, Will | The Canadian Press, July 14, 2012 | Go to article overview

Ethical Oil Cartoon Used by Enbridge Showed Scowling Persian Gulf Gas Pump


Campbell, Will, The Canadian Press


Enbridge explains ethical oil cartoon

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A presentation by energy firm Enbridge Inc. at a private conference included a drawing of a scowling cartoon gas pump that labelled Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Persian Gulf countries as unethical oil sources.

However, the company says it wasn't singling out those countries for allegedly producing less ethical oil than the Alberta oilsands.

An Enbridge executive presented the illustration at an aboriginal business conference in Calgary in November of 2010 on a slide with the subheading "Who would you prefer to buy your oil from?"

It shows two old-fashioned gas pumps sitting side-by-side. One gas pump, named "Alberta Canada," shows a pair of wide-open cartoon eyes peering out from just below the face of the pump.

A second pump shows scowling, angry eyes with furrowed eyebrows and dark stress lines underneath the eye sockets.

Inscribed on that pump in overlaying text are the names of several Persian Gulf countries: the United Arab Emirates, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and what appears to be Bahrain, as well as a question mark.

The cartoon slide came at the end of a presentation by Andy Popko, at the time Enbridge's vice-president for aboriginal relations, which outlined economic opportunities in the Northern Gateway project for aboriginal communities and businesses.

Though Enbridge executives have said in speeches that oilsands crude is "ethically developed," the company has not publicly compared the ethics of oil produced by Alberta with other spots around the world.

A company spokesman denied the presentation shows Enbridge endorsing the view that Gulf countries are unethical places to import oil from.

Enbridge Northern Gateway spokesman Paul Stanway said Popko put the countries in his Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business conference presentation to show how other people were making the argument.

Stanway said Popko was only outlining Enbridge's support for the "general concept" of the argument, and not singling out specific places for being allegedly unethical.

"All I can confirm is that he was responding to interest in what was an issue at the time with regard to ethical oil," Stanway said in an interview, noting that Enbridge was regularly asked about the topic in the fall of 2010.

"Those countries have been raised by other people," he said.

"So Mr. Popko expressed our point of view, which was that yes, we support the general concept that Alberta oil, that Canadian oil is produced to higher standards than that produced in other places in the world."

He said those standards include human rights and environmental protections.

When asked if those other places include Middle Eastern states, Stanway said: "Many parts of the world. You pick your spot. We don't make any direct comparisons."

He added: "We're a transporter of energy. We don't deal with international affairs. This is not our business."

The crux of the ethical oil argument is that oil bought from some countries - such as those in the Middle East and other places like Russia and Venezuela - is unethical because energy revenues go to governments that squelch human rights, suppress women and feed terrorism and armed conflict. …

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