Bridging the gap between the East and West

Retired ex-oil couple Dave Aasen and Val Owens now call Nova Scotia home. Here’s their take on Canada’s pipeline debates.

Between the two of them, they have more than 50 years of oil and gas experience: Dave Aasen spent 25 years between Nexen and Bow River Pipelines in a variety of roles, and eventually ended his tenure at Enbridge Pipelines as a Technical Trainer in April 2014. While at Nexen, he met his partner, Valerie Owens, where she spent 26 years in a variety of roles and responsibilities.

Although a downturn in the Alberta economy was looming, Dave and Val had already made plans to retire to Nova Scotia, where Val has family roots, and they soon left Calgary for the Maritimes.

To signify both of their careers in the O&G industry, Val and Dave incorporated several replica storage bins into their model railroad that surrounds their flowerbed.
To signify both of their careers in the O&G industry, Val and Dave incorporated several replica storage bins into their model railroad that surrounds their flowerbed.

With the ongoing Energy East pipeline project playing out in the media as an east versus west issue, one wonders how accurate the media portrayal of the East’s dislike for the pipeline really is. As a Westerner living amongst Easterners, Dave offers this observation: “I must admit the subject here is like discussing religion and politics so there is likely strong, silent support [for Energy East]…but the opposing voices are usually more newsworthy. Last summer, there was a gasoline shortage here and an oil tanker was sitting offshore for the longest time. This prompted residents to ask why it wasn’t unloading its energy cargo when gasoline was in high demand. If a pipeline were available at that time, the gas shortage could have been addressed with another transport option.”

He goes on to say: “The worst thing that can happen for a transport company is to have some kind of environmental incident occur, so I am very confident that all steps possible are taken to prevent an incident from occurring. It is impossible to guarantee this though, but weighing all the pros and cons of environmental and economic concerns, it seems clear to me that pipeline transport is by far the safest form.”

Valerie agrees with Dave that as land-based transport regulations are tightened up, and ocean tanker regulations become more strict, “all this will lead to lessening the risks and getting our product to where it needs to be for optimum economic gain from Canada’s natural resources,” she says.

Val‘s brother Hugh Owens, a native Nova Scotian, sees the pipeline issue quite clearly: ”As long as people are using cars, heating homes, and using products derived from oil, we should use the safest form of transport possible. Ultimately, oil and gas revenues help the economy in the Maritimes and the rest of Canada.”