BC Needs Petrochemicals

BC Needs Petrochemicals

Petrochemicals play an important role in our everyday lives. This mostly goes unnoticed as we don’t realize how many things are actually derived from petrochemicals. The oil and gas industry gets a bad rap for CO2 emissions related to burning the product as an energy source, but few realize that over 14% of Canadian petroleum use is in non-fuel sources1. BC obviously consumes all sorts of petrochemical products but has zero petrochemical facilities. With our strong environmental standards, it only makes sense that if we are going to consume these products, we should be making them here as well. I thought it may be worth looking into some petrochemical products you may not have known came for oil & gas.

  1. Carbon Fibre is mainly manufactured from polyacrylonitrile, a synthetic polymer. It is one of the highest strength-weight ratio materials on earth, which makes it critical in lightweight applications required to achieve the greatest energy efficiency. Everything from wind turbine blades, rocket ships, passenger jets & high-performance bikes use carbon fibre. It’s the material of the future, and we need oil & gas to make it happen.
  2. Lubricants are used in almost any piece of equipment that moves. From the wheel bearings in your car to heavy machinery to industrial motors, they can be found almost anywhere you look. It would be hard to move anything, anywhere without oils & greases derived from petrochemicals
  3. Asphalt is used for roads around the world. It’s important not to forget that asphalt is also used as a waterproofing material on shingles and flat roofs as well. A rainy day would be much more miserable without petrochemicals.
  4. Foam is used nearly everywhere for insulation, floatation, or packaging. From your refrigerator to your home’s walls, it keeps us cool in the heat and warm in the cold. It is a critical part of reducing energy consumption in our homes. Don’t forget to wear your life jacket at the lake! It is also filled with foam to keep you safe.
  5. Paints & Coatings are not just important to make our home look fresh. They are also a critical component in protecting steel infrastructure from corrosion. From your buried sewer & water lines to bridges and utility poles, industrial coatings reduce infrastructure maintenance, saving you money. By not require replacement as frequently, they also reduce energy consumption on the manufacturing of new materials.
  6. Detergents are one of the many chemicals in your home you often don’t realize come from petrochemicals. From your laundry to your dishes, your car wash to your bubble bath, detergents are everywhere. They are even added to oils & fuels to help keep build-up from forming inside your engine.
  7. Fabrics in most clothing now contain some amount of synthetic petroleum-based products. Acrylic, polyester, nylon and spandex are some of the common ones you can find in your everyday clothes. They are even more common in your high-performance outdoor wear. Check your clothing tag now to see if what your wearing came from petrochemicals.
  8. Resins are part of polymer chemistry that can be mixed to form hard polymers. They are important in construction adhesives as well as the bonding agent for fibreglass, carbon-fibre, and aramid composites. These are in everything like boats, semi-trucks, wood beams, electronics, water pipes and furniture. Look around your house and see if you can spot something with the resin used to hold it together.
  9. Rubber was originally made from the rubber tree and still is today. Due to increasing demand and deforestation caused by rubber farms, synthetic rubber is now commonly used. Tires are the most common, but it is also important for conveyor belts in bulk material handling. Every day you use door seals, hoses, flooring and erasers all be made of synthetic rubber too.
  10. Plastics are the most widely known petrochemical material. ¬†This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it. Though plastics get a bad wrap for the pollution caused when improperly disposed of, there is no doubt they play a critical role in our everyday lives. From lightweight car parts to electronics, to our PPE, plastics have proven to be an irreplaceable part of our everyday lives.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, and each category in itself could generate a sub-list of ten more products, you can quickly realize how so many of the things we use and need every day to maintain our health, safety, and standard of living require petrochemicals. Google it yourself and let the BCRC know what material you found that is made from petrochemicals. This is why BC should build a petrochemical industry and why you should care.

Dan Rae

  1. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-facts/petroleum-products-facts/20065

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