Pembina Pipeline Corporation is an oil and gas pipeline and infrastructure company based in Calgary, Alberta. Pembina operates conventional oil, heavy crude and natural gas pipelines, as well as providing storage and midstream oil and gas services in Canada and the United States.
Pembina aims to build new large-scale oil and gas infrastructure projects, including pipelines, across North America that would facilitate significantly expanded unconventional fossil fuel development. In perpetuating a status quo of carbon-heavy energy, Pembina makes it on our list as a major emitter.
Pembina Pipeline was incorporated in 1954 at the advent of the construction of the Pembina Pipeline system, which serviced some of the oldest oil fields in the country, transporting crude oil from the Pembina field near Drayton Valley, Alberta, to Edmonton, Alberta.1 In 1991, Pembina purchased Peace Pipe Line Ltd. from a group of oil-producing companies, providing it with ownership of the Peace Pipeline system. In 1998, the company became publicly traded after completing its initial public offering.2
|Royal Bank of Canada||CA||6.06|
|Bank of Nova Scotia||CA||5.36|
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce||CA||2.75|
|Bank of Montreal||CA||2.43|
|Power Corporation of Canada||CA||2.41|
|Province of Québec||CA||1.50|
|Tortoise Investments LLC||US||1.07|
Included are all shareholdings of 1% and greater. Source: Orbis Database, October 2018.
Pembina operates a conventional oil pipeline network of nearly 10,000 km extending across much of Alberta and parts of British Columbia (BC), Saskatchewan and North Dakota. The company’s oil sands and heavy oil business includes approximately 1,650 km of pipeline with 975,000 barrels per day of capacity under long-term, extendable contracts. Gas operations include the Alberta Ethane Gathering System (AEGS), with capacity of 330 mbpd (thousand barrels per day), and 50 per cent interest in the Alliance Pipeline system, with firm service of 1,325 mbpd. Pembina also owns and operates numerous gas surface storage facilities and other downstream (processing) facilities.3
Pembina Pipeline has numerous subsidiaries and large ownership stakes in oil and gas infrastructure firms. Notable subsidiaries include Federated Pipe Lines (which operates one of the largest federal pipeline networks in Western Canada) and Alberta Oil Sands Pipeline (which operates the main portion of the Syncrude pipeline).
Pembina Pipeline is a somewhat lesser known Canadian oil and gas infrastructure firm. However, through a series of recent purchases and acquisitions it has quickly become the third-largest oil and gas pipeline company based in Canada and one of its largest natural gas processors.4 Recent acquisitions and proposed expansions speak to a strategy focused on growing bitumen transport and shale gas exports.
In 2001, the company acquired the Syncrude pipeline by taking over its operator, Alberta Oil Sands Pipeline, for $225 million. Through the acquisition, Pembina became the sole transporter of crude oil for Syncrude Canada, and also gained access to a number of large oil and gas producers, including Imperial Oil, Suncor, Conoco and Nexen.5 In 2008, it completed the Horizon pipeline—its largest project to date—which connects to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s oil sands operations north of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
In 2017, Pembina became a major player in natural gas transportation and processing by purchasing Alberta-based Veresen for C$9.7 billion.6 By acquiring Veresen, Pembina gained access to two strategic Canadian gas export assets: a 50 per cent interest in the Alliance Pipeline system, and a 43 per cent stake in a natural-gas-processing venture, Aux Sable.7 The Alliance Pipeline transports gas (extracted via hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”) from northeastern BC and northwestern Alberta, underground through Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, to Chicago. Gas from the Alliance Pipeline connects to Aux Sable’s Channahon facility near Chicago, which supplies natural gas liquids throughout the US Midwest.
New projects include a proposed C$4 billion petrochemical plant in the greater Edmonton area (with equal partner Petrochemical Industries of Kuwait), and a $250 million liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) export terminal in Prince Rupert, BC, aimed at reaching Asian markets.8 Pembina is also attempting to revive the US$10 billion Jordan Cove Energy Project—originally proposed by Veresen—which would entail the construction of a 370 km Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline and an associated liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Coos Bay on the Oregon coast.9 The Jordan Cove project would process up to 1.3 billion cubic feet a day of western Canadian gas and US Rockies gas into LNG for export to Asia.10
Compared to other emitters in our Top 50, like Suncor and Enbridge, which actively promote their public position on climate action, Pembina’s public emphasis on the issue is relatively modest. It emphasizes its use of certain technologies to reduce emissions 11 and has dubiously suggested that its operational shift toward natural gas is aligned with a responsibility to act on climate, reasoning that its gas deposits can be used as a “bridge fuel” to move energy systems away from coal power.12 This assertion is out of alignment with scientific research finding that fracked natural gas can be as emissions-intensive as coal.13
After a groundswell of opposition blocked Pembina’s plans to build an LPG shipping facility in Portland, Oregon, the company relocated the project to Prince Rupert, BC.14 Local environmental groups and citizens of Portland expressed concerns about the dangers of transporting fuel (via rail) to the terminal and pointed out the contradiction of building new fossil fuel infrastructure in the context of the climate crisis.15 If fully built, the project would become the second LPG terminal in the area and would produce approximately 20,000 barrels per day of LPG export.16
In 2016, the Jordan Cove LNG project in Oregon (referenced in the Strategy section above) was denied an export permit by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the grounds that long-term demand for the project had not been proven and that negative impacts on landowners and the environment outweighed the public benefits.17 In late 2017, Pembina—emboldened by officials from the Trump administration signalling that they would issue permits for Jordan Cove18—resubmitted its application for a larger and more expensive project.19 A final federal decision could come by the end of 2019.20
A 2018 report from Oil Change International provides a comprehensive “life cycle” assessment of the emissions associated with the Jordan Cove project, from the point of (fracked) gas extraction to the burning of the exported gas in Asia. It finds that if constructed, the project would result in over 36.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year, which would make it the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Oregon.21 This is 15.4 times the emissions of Oregon’s last coal-burning plant, which is slated to close in 2020 due to climate and pollution concerns.22 Since Pembina’s re-application, community organizations and landowners in southern Oregon and northern California, and the Yurok, Hoopa, Karuk, Modoc and Klamath Tribes of northern California and southern Oregon, have again begun coordinating active on-the-ground resistance, including corporate office shutdowns and rallies.23
Learn more about Pembina Pipelines at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Chris Mooney and Damian Paletta, “Top Trump Adviser Calls for Reviving Controversial Natural Gas Project on Oregon’s Coast,” Washington Post, April 21, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/04/21/top-trump-adviser-calls-for-reviving-controversial-natural-gas-project-on-oregons-coast/?utm_term=.72fa8bfcdd3e. See also “Veresen CEO Confident of Jordan Cove Project under Trump,” Bloomberg, March 10, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-03-10/veresen-ceo-confident-of-jordan-cove-project-under-trump.