The economic salvation of energy companies like Alberta's Suncor could be added value. Its present profits depend on defiling the pitch it mines. Athabasca tar sand is a far cry from petroleum; converting it into combustable goo, let alone free-flowing fuel entails removing carbon, and adding hydrogen. But why bother with energy intensive processing when a high added value product could turn Canadian bitumen's naturally vast viscosity into a feature rather than a bug?
Nobody does hockey better than the great white north, yet the national sport has long depended on a product no more native to Canada than maple syrup to Mexico: rubber hockey pucks.
Why should patriotic Canadians depend on this alien import, when no less a national figure than Rick George, President & CEO of Suncor Energy, one of Alberta's oldest tar sand companies, has pointed to a native Canadian solution. In March 2008, he addressed the World Heavy Oil Congress, outlining some of the reasons the sands have always required innovative thinking.
While oil prices have plunged below $400 a tonne, free market hockey puck prices remain rock solid at $19.99 a dozen, -- nearly twenty thousand dollars a tonne !
This is a margin worthy of the DVD industry, and it takes little more than a modified waffle iron to stamp asphalt-rich tar sand bitumen into NHL ready hockey pucks. The fifty to one added value margin means Suncor can forego the contentious and environmentally dodgy Keystone pipeline, and sustain its profitability by pucking and trucking a mere 2% of its bitumen production into the ever growing world sporting goods market. This would avoid 98% of the CO2 emission of burning the stuff, and spare the fair face of the plains pimpling with brimstone piles the size of ski jumps, the inevitable byproduct of less innovative bitcrude business models.
It's not too late for Suncor to ditch the unsporting Fraser Institute and hire a real advocate of creative destruction, Canada's greatest living watermelon, stand-up duct tape spokesman Red Green, to tell Suncor execs to stop pucking around and turn another tar sand mining bug-- deforestation, into a new feature of the renewable resource landscape. Trees bulldozed to create tar pits could become the raw material for horzontal integration into a global hockey stick monopoly.
If American libel lawyers can reinvent themselves , why not Canadian MBA's? Inflategate is already rumored to have inspired a Harvard Business School startup that aims to add an honest 70 grams to the throw-weight of NFL quarterback's by filling their pigskin bombs with heavy xenon isotopes from Ontario's Candu reactors.