Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):
The Minister of Munitions and Supply has just drawn to the attention of the house a certain aspect of the gasoline situation, and in his remarks he referred to the situation in the United-States, which I think needs commenting upon. The minister's remark was to the effect that the gasoline situation in Nova Scotia and the maritime provinces was about the same as in northern New England. I have here an item taken from the Ottawa Journal of May 15, 1942, being a dispatch from Washington, dated May 14, as follows:
Senator Sheridan Downey (Dem.-Calif.), asserting the United States is "approaching a desperate condition on gasoline and rubber," told the Senate to-day that all tankers normally plying between Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic ports had been ordered into harbours.
Downey did not say what was the source of his information and there was no confirmation from the navy that tanker movements along the east coast had been halted.
Axis submarines apparently have made tankers a primary objective of their campaign.
In peace time, tankers transported about 95 per cent of the east's oil requirements.
I think it is important to realize that the oil situation is becoming desperately acute, and unless we give a great deal of attention to the gasoline and oil supplies of this country I greatly fear that conditions will become much worse than they are at present. I remember speaking at some length on this question of oil production away back on
March 14, 1941, when I pointed out that the oil situation at that time was very dangerous. I said that the oil supplies in the far east, in the Persian fields, in Iraq and Iran, were in great jeopardy, and that it was not beyond the realm of imagination that we should lose those oil fields, and the oil fields of Burma as well. I made that statement as early as 1939, and it seems now that I was right, in part at least. The situation is extremely grave, because both the British fleet and the United States fleet may become desperately in need of oil supplies, and we are not in a position to assist them. It is a shame that we are not in a better position than we are in to-day as regards gasoline and oil, because the facts were quite clear to all of us when the war first broke out. I pointed out then that consideration should be given to building a pipeline from, say, Turner Valley to the head of the lakes, and from Alberta to the Pacific coast. We had the materials and the labour then, and had that been done our present transportation problem would not be nearly as serious as it has been stated by the minister to be. A tremendous amount of gasoline is being used, and the situation is such that I think even to-day the whole field should be reviewed with a view to taking drastic measures to build up oil resources. I have an extract here from a Fort Erie paper, in its issue of January 8, 1942, which I think would be of interest to hon. members. It is headed "Gasoline a Vital Necessity," and reads:
Although recognized in a general way, the vital importance of gasoline supplies in modern mechanized warfare is better realized when figures of consumption are taken into account.
Army cooking for each 9,000 men involves the use of gasoline stoves which burn up 720 gallons of fuel a day. An army of 1,000,000 men would need some 80,000 gallons daily for cooking purposes alone.
Big tanks-such as the 12-ton models-con-, sume a gallon per mile. For every mile traversed, a mechanized brigade uses 100 gallons for its 112 small tanks plus 615 other motor vehicles.
Planes, especially when in combat action, are huge consumers of gasoline. One with a single motor might operate under cruising conditions for an hour on 45 gallons; but it will eat up more than twice that much while in actual combat.
A big bomber consumes as much as 240 gallons in a single hour when flying at top speed. A five-hour raid by 600 bombers would use up
In a single hour 500,000 gallons would be burned by a modern air armada, consisting of 2,400 bombers and 1,600 fighter planes.
Available supplies of petroleum may yet prove to be a deciding factor in this war; for, if it lasts long enough, the side which exhausts its supply first will be compelled, automatically, to acknowledge defeat.
That was written on January 8, 1942. The last paragraph of it points out quite clearly that the "available supplies of petroleum may yet prove to be a deciding factor in this war." I think when that article is read by all the members, and they realize the tremendous amount of gasoline that is being consumed every day, the importance of new production will be thoroughly impressed upon their minds. Gasoline and oil supplies will be the vital factor in this war, because clearly this is a mechanized war, and one much different from any other we have had. Time is possibly one of the greatest factors contributing to our success.
I remember back in 1940 having asked the question:
What steps are being taken by the government to increase the production of oil in Alberta and other parts of Canada?
This was the answer from the Minister of Mines and Resources:
Mr. Crerar: Production of oil can be increased only by drilling and by finding new oil fields, or the extension of old oil fields. The finding of new fields and the extension of old fields is in a large measure a geological problem, and field parties of the bureau of geology and topography are attacking this problem in the two main producing regions.
There is probably some room for criticism, when the emphasis is laid on the fact that the oil fields could be got only by drilling. I realize that the drilling of holes in the ground is probably much more inexpensive than some other processes by which oil may be obtained. But that was away back in 1940. What increase in production has there been in Canada since then? I think there has been a very small amount of actual increase in production. There has been a good deal of survey work, but so far as actual increase in production in oil wells is concerned, I think it is rather negligible. Probably there has been a good deal of ground and survey work, but no real practical results have been achieved.
The next question was:
Is anything being done by this government to construct a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast or the head of the great lakes?
The answer was:
Officers of the department have conducted an investigation into the economic feasibility of the pipeline movement of Turner Valley oil to Ontario, and this is now being studied.
I do not think anything has been done on that score. It was under consideration at that time, so the minister pointed out. But again
there was procrastination, and nothing has been done. I am sure that if we now had a pipeline from Alberta to the head of the lakes or to the Pacific it would be of great assistance to the Minister of Munitions and Supply. I say that because I imagine oil supplies would be more necessary along our coasts than in the central provinces, because of the proximity to the danger zone.
The next question I asked at that time was:
How much additional survey and exploration work will be carried on in Alberta and other parts of Canada in an earnest endeavour to increase our oil output?
This was the answer:
The increase of effort this year has been made in Alberta and bordering parts of Saskatchewan where the geographical and topographical field parties have been increased from six to seventeen.
While these questions were asked of the minister, and while he said that investigations were being made, so far as actual increase in production is concerned nothing of real importance has developed. The time has come when we have to do something more than merely investigate. If thorough investigation was made at that time the minister should now be in possession of sufficient information to start immediately something worth while in this regard. I can well realize the minister's attitude with respect to the development of further fields, from the point of view of its being more economical to drill wells than, say, to develop the tar sands of Alberta. But I take it the main concern should not be the expense involved, but rather the question: Can we get the production?
I believe I was not far wrong in the statement I made a while ago to the effect that the actual output of production did not increase to any appreciable degree, that it was practically the same. Especially I believe is this true in Alberta. There is an increase of a few thousands of barrels a day. When the war started it was something like 26,000 barrels- the minister will correct me if I am wrong-and it was increased by a few thousand.
I have an article before me which makes comment on that situation. This is taken from the Monetary Times of January 3, 1942. Under the heading "Crude Output Stays Constant", it says:
The output of crude petroleum and natural gasoline from Canadian wells maintains a fairly constant average as disclosed in reports covering operations for the months of September and
October, yet at the same time showing a sizeable increase over production one year ago. The Dominion Bureau of Statistics reports the output of crude petroleum and natural gasoline for October last as 871,491 barrels; for September the total was 878,782 barrels.
There is not a great deal of difference there.
In October, 1940, the output of the wells was 817,596.
Again it is practically the same.
Taking the aggregate for the ten mouths ended October 31 the totals are: for 1941, 8,370,968 barrels; for 1940, 7,086,161 barrels.
Alberta's contribution to this yield was 856.191 barrels of which 844,407 came from the Turner Valley field. 991 from Bed Coulee field. 1.302 from Wainwright-Ribstone field and 6,900 from other fields.
As a new source of supply it is recorded that 2.591 barrels of crude oil were extracted from the tar sands of northern Alberta during the month of October.
I believe that statement fairly well bears out what I said. I suggest it reveals that the tar sands present a great potential source ox supply. It may be said that production irom those sands would involve too much time, and that too great an expenditure would be required to get an appreciable amount of production. But no matter whether that be true or not, if we can increase production, that is the thing we should make every effort to speed up. My information leads me to believe that there is a tremendous amount of fuel oil there.
On February 18, 1942, I raised the following
question in the house, as reported at page 686 of Hansard:
I should like to ask a question of the Minister of Munitions and Supply. In view of the serious situation in the far east, and the possibility of our losing our far eastern oil supply, what is the government going to do to cause an actual increase in Canadian production of oil?
Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply): Various steps have been taken. The tax structure was revised at the last sitting of the house to encourage drilling for oil throughout Canada. That revision had a very stimulating effect in the direction indicated. At this time steps are being taken to develop small oil areas for specific uses.
Those negotiations are going on at the present time. I do not know that we have gone further than that. But I can say that we think we are developing considerably the production of oil. I have no suggestions to make to the government to enlarge our operations in that respect.
Mr. Johnston (Bow River): Is anything
being done with the tar sands?
Mr. Howe: I have a very exhaustive report on the subject of tar sands, and I should be very glad to let my hon. friend have a copy of it. It indicates, however, that the location of the sands and the possibility of development is too remote to be of any great use in this war.
The Minister of Munitions and Supply made available to me the report to which he referred. I read it, but I must say I was not very much impressed by the recommendation or the suggestion which would be left to the minister in that regard. The report was confidential, and I have no intention of referring to its terms. However, the fact that there has been considerable production from these tar sands and that the minister knows definitely that oil is there makes it imperative that something should be done, and without dalay. In fact, it should have been done a long time ago. As the minister said:
It indicates, however, that the location of the sands and the possibility of development is too remote to be of any great use in this war.
The minister has possibly changed his views, at least to some extent, since that time, because when he was speaking in the house the other day he had this to say, as reported on page 2478 of Hansard:
The position of oil development within Canada has, of course, been changed considerably by the events of recent months. I think most people had looked upon the tar sands of Alberta as a great reserve of oil for some future period when the more easily accessible oil resources would have been exhausted. But to-day we think of that same area as a source of immediate oil production.
I am pleased that the minister has apparently changed his views and now is of the opinion that something should be done immediately with the tar sands in Alberta. He continued:
-provided the problems connected with its development can be solved rapidly and with some degree of certainty.
An intensive study of the tar sands is under way at the present time. That 6tudy was organized by my department, and we have interested in it the leading oil engineers of this country, not noly men in the public service and on the staff of the national research council, but also oil engineers from industry. We have interested Consolidated Mining and Smelting, who have had a good deal of experience in meeting mining problems in that area.
I may say that the mining of the sand itself is one of the major problems that has not yet been fully worked out. We have asked all these interests to prepare a report for the government and advise whether a devlopment should be undertaken at this time and the extent of development which the conditions would warrant, whether we should proceed with a pilot plant or whether the situation is such that we can immediately develop on a considerable scale. I am expecting the report shortly, and appropriate action will be taken.
There are two suggestions there which I think are worth mentioning. The minister
has in mind the possibility of starting a pilot plant. I believe the plant already there has been doing good work in that regard, but the minister may have in mind the starting of a government pilot plant. Surely the work which the Abasand people have done in that area should be sufficient to indicate definitely to the minister whether or not it would be practicable to start a plant. His views seem to have changed, and it would be a shame if even at this late date the minister should not decide to go in there, even though it was necessary to put up a government plant. I think that idea is quite commendable. It will probably cost a lot of money to establish a plant which can make speedy production of this greatly needed fuel, but the minister would be well advised to continue to keep in mind the possibilities of putting up a plant.
There is also the suggestion which I made to the Minister of Mines and Resources (Mr. Crerar), that a pipeline be laid to the Pacific coast, either from Turner Valley or from the tar sands themselves. A military road is now being put through that part of the country, and it might prove to be of great assistance either to bend the road a little so that it would touch the tar sands or to build a feeder road from the tar sands to the main road. Airports are being constructed all through that northern country, and something should be done immediately with these tar sands so that the fuel required for the planes using the airports may be provided by these sands. The time is long past when this development should have taken place. Even though we are three years late in doing it, I hope the minister will see the urgency and the necessity of starting something immediately.