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Old 12-03-2012, 05:30 PM   #1
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The Mysterious Twenty-Four Circles of Sarnia

Let's say you, a railyard worker loads a train and watches it go to cross the border and it returns. Okay then, you'd surmise that you would have to unload it. But you are given orders not to. Instead, the train departs to cross the border again. And yet again with the same load of biodiesel, it returns. And does it twenty-four times.

So you're thinking, what's going on? Somebody is making a buck but who? That's a big cost. Who's bearing it?

CN Rail's mysterious 2.6 million dollar trips.
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:39 PM   #2
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This sounds a LOT like the old splash-and-dash of a few years ago. My bet somewhere the numbers are doing Olympic level gymnastics at the cost of taxpayers in two nations.
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:54 PM   #3
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Very odd. The shipping company made money by keeping their "eyes closed and mouths shut" and doing exactly what they were told. They could have said, "you know, something isn't right here" and contacted the authorities to investigate. They didn't because they stood to make a lot of money. Would this equate to a person being hired to drive a get away car and that person not choosing to know who he drove for and why? If so, they are in a world of trouble once the scam is fully uncovered.

But, I am confused. How would carrying a load of biodiesel back and forth from the US to Canada make money?
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:12 PM   #4
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Anyone remember the $500 toilet seats the U.S. Air Force bought for their planes? Or the $1000 hammers?

What I have learned over the years is that if the work is government related, its always cost more and the tax payers are picking up the tab...
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:29 PM   #5
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From last month:

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/na...service=mobile

Quote:
Canadian and European officials are investigating more than $100-million in fuel trades that went from the U.S. into Canada, before being shipped to Romania and other European countries. According to search warrants, Toronto-based Bioversel Trading Inc. and a related firm called Spectrum Chemicals Inc. circumvented anti-dumping duties on American biodiesel by pretending to be exporting Canadian biodiesel.
So maybe the play was this: each "pretend" shipment that went from Canada to the U.S. was then shipped to Europe. All of the actual fuel was already prepared for shipment to Europe. Rather than unload and ship each train load--followed by reloading new fuel and shipping it to Canada, then back to the U.S.--the company just circled the same load around and around. Each time it got back to port, a "new" shipment was recorded.




Or, the whole thing is just money-laundering.
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:39 PM   #6
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But, I am confused. How would carrying a load of biodiesel back and forth from the US to Canada make money?
My immediate thought is that there could be some sort of financial incentive scheme for exporting or importing biodiesel from one country to the other, but no disincentive for sending it the other way. So you just keep on shipping the same biodiesel and rack up the payments.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:35 PM   #7
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Here's my favorite quote from the readers' comments section:


Quote:
Mystery Train? I suggest we get Scooby and the Gang on the investigation
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:45 PM   #8
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I was stunned. Couldn't fathom what possible benefit could be achieved via spending all that cash on train transport just to play a game of "let's pretend we're a very busy little boy."


Just look at this quote from an internal e-mail from the railraod's managemnt:

Quote:
“This unit train will move at least once daily to Port Huron starting on Tuesday, June 18,” said an email written by Teresa Edwards, CN’s manager of transportation for Port Huron/Sarnia.

It will “clear customs and return to Sarnia. If we can get in more flips back and forth we will attempt to do so. Each move per car across the border is Revenue generated for Sarnia/Port Huron. “It will be the same cars flipping back and forth and the product will stay on the car.”

The email ends with a reminder that the move “has the potential to make a lot of money for CN so need everyone’s assistance to maximize the number of trips that we make and ensure that it all moves smooth.”
So I am assuming she --or one of her superiors-- was instructed by the biodiesel company to do this. So in the proper spirit of "follow the money" the proper question here is: why did this biodiesel company want to do this??

My answer:

They were trying to pad the numbers.

They decided back in May or June that they needed to come up with lots and lots of bills of lading and border crossing documents which would give the illusion of supprting an outrageously over-inflated number pointing to how much biodiesel they were able to ship during the month of June, 2012.

There was a huge wad of wool they needed to pull over someone's eyes somewhere concerning VOLUME. And I further suspect that because they did it during the month of June, that maybe they needed to have those numbers on the books before the end of June, which is the end of the fiscal year.

Just my hunch.



::ETA::

I need to make one addition to my theory, which is that instead of this biodiesel company needing to be able to come up with the "right" documdents themselves, I instead believe they needed to trip all the right flags at the border crossing and make the border agents generate specific types of paperwork within their own record keeping systems. Specifically, I suspect that the biodiesel company wanted the border and customs people on both the US and Canadian side of the border to generate the "right" kinds of paperwork within their own respective internal beurocracies --the kind of paperwork that gets referred to by American and Canadian policy-makers. And the reason they needed to trick the border and customs people into doing this is because of some very critical decisions that are going to be made in the immediate future regarding the transport of oil across the Canada/US border.

See my Post #10 below.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:48 PM   #9
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Or, the whole thing is just money-laundering.
That's one mighty expensive laundro-mat.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:07 PM   #10
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Here's an addendum to my theory:

The additional question of "Who is this horse and pony show meant for?" might be answered with the reply of:

The American Congress and the American Citizenry.

(Conspiracy theiry time!!!)

If these Canadian biodiesel people can offer us Americans overly inflated numbers as to how much product they move across the border, that can help bolster the claim that we NEED to have that Keystone Pipeline built from Canada into the US for moving that oil.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/texas/art...on-4082835.php

Quote:

Obama pipeline decision may preview energy policy

By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press -- Sunday, December 2, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a decision President Barack Obama put off during the 2012 campaign, but now that he's won a second term, his next move on a proposed oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada may signal how he will deal with climate and energy issues in the four years ahead.

Obama is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them on this and countless other related issues down the road.

On its surface, it's a choice between the promise of jobs and economic growth and environmental concerns. But it's also become a proxy for a broader fight over American energy consumption and climate change, amplified by Superstorm Sandy and the conclusion of an election that was all about the economy....
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:21 PM   #11
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Problem is is that Keystone is to move bitumen and not biodiesel. If movement of biodiesel is important, wouldn't that show more demand for biodiesel and not the bitumen or are the producers of biodiesel already admitting that they are at full capacity profit-wise?
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:33 PM   #12
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Problem is is that Keystone is to move bitumen and not biodiesel. If movement of biodiesel is important, wouldn't that show more demand for biodiesel and not the bitumen or are the producers of biodiesel already admitting that they are at full capacity profit-wise?
An argument can be made that if we are transporting ridiculous volumes of ALREADY-REFINED petroleum product across the border, then Americans can benefit from the Keystone pipeline if we instead transport UNREFINED crude here via that pipeline and then hire Americans to refine it themselves in American refineries on American soil. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:42 PM   #13
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Maybe but there is a hitch. Biodiesel is a specific hydrocarbon. Bitumen is something that can break down into many hydrocarbons: kerosene, gasoline, diesel and many others. Would it not require a signal of flows of many kinds of refined hydrocarbons to use these shipments in a building case?

I guess there could be something to say out of the recent consensus reached by the Canadian premiers to ship the bitumen east into Ontario and Quebec instead of south across the border but. . . I'm not too convinced. I don't think Bioversal is in that game.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:49 PM   #14
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All right, running with scissors here:

Let's say that the American Government is not involved. CN did not flag the suspicious activity, it's railworkers did. Is it possible that it was a government official in the Canadian side who gave orders to CN not to flag this suspicious movement? What would be the reasons for that?

If we are going to use the Keystone, maybe there is pressure for the Harper government to push Keystone through before the Trans-Canada Pipe gets built. Maybe he is using that volume to put the pressure on Obama - especially given Obama's lack of commitment on Keystone - to agree? Why would Harper's government be involved? Oh yes, his seat is in Calgary. . .
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plot Device View Post
Here's an addendum to my theory:

The additional question of "Who is this horse and pony show meant for?" might be answered with the reply of:

The American Congress and the American Citizenry.

(Conspiracy theiry time!!!)

If these Canadian biodiesel people can offer us Americans overly inflated numbers as to how much product they move across the border, that can help bolster the claim that we NEED to have that Keystone Pipeline built from Canada into the US for moving that oil.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/texas/art...on-4082835.php
You've probably put us all thoughtlessly at risk. If you disappear like Darby Shaw in The Pelican Brief we'll know what's going on. Stay safe.


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Old 12-03-2012, 09:26 PM   #16
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You've probably put us all thoughtlessly at risk. If you disappear like Darby Shaw in The Pelican Brief we'll know what's going on. Stay safe.


Big Oil has no limits to their evil. But hey -- if it means I can have a fling with Denzel Washington, I'm on board!

What??

You mean Julia Roberts and Denzel never once got physically intimate in the movie?? Pfft!! What's the point then??
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Maybe but there is a hitch. Biodiesel is a specific hydrocarbon. Bitumen is something that can break down into many hydrocarbons: kerosene, gasoline, diesel and many others. Would it not require a signal of flows of many kinds of refined hydrocarbons to use these shipments in a building case?

I guess there could be something to say out of the recent consensus reached by the Canadian premiers to ship the bitumen east into Ontario and Quebec instead of south across the border but. . . I'm not too convinced. I don't think Bioversal is in that game.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xelebes View Post
All right, running with scissors here:

Let's say that the American Government is not involved. CN did not flag the suspicious activity, it's railworkers did. Is it possible that it was a government official in the Canadian side who gave orders to CN not to flag this suspicious movement? What would be the reasons for that?

If we are going to use the Keystone, maybe there is pressure for the Harper government to push Keystone through before the Trans-Canada Pipe gets built. Maybe he is using that volume to put the pressure on Obama - especially given Obama's lack of commitment on Keystone - to agree? Why would Harper's government be involved? Oh yes, his seat is in Calgary. . .

I think it all comes down to what looks good on paper, and what makes for a nice sound byte in the news. How's THIS for a Fox News talking point (made up spontaneously by me just now): "During the first half of 2012, the amount of refined oil products that Canadian refineries moved across the border into the USA was X-amount. That's shameful! If we could get Canada to just ship us their unrefined crude and then allow us to refine it oursleves, it'd mean less American money being spent on foreign fuel, and more jobs for Americans!!"


Meanwhile, to throttle back on the extreme degrees of my conspiracy theory and get just a tad bit more pedestrian ...

Perhaps this company wants to try and cook up numbers which will make them look good enough on paper to get bought by some multi-national. So maybe this isn't international intrigue as much as its window dressing for a potential buy-out.

No matter which theory you wanna go with, I say they are deliberately trying to tip the border and customs numbers to their favor.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:46 PM   #18
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What may also be happening is a subsidy scheme. As noted in the comments, there was a subsidy scheme in Ireland when a cattle-trader moved ten head back and forth across the ROI-NI border to get a subsidy.

It is a problem when you make a subsidy to export greater than the cost of transportation.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #19
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This sounds like an episode of Breaking Bad. It would be crazy if we found out they were muling methylamine--from fiction to reality.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:02 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Xelebes View Post
What may also be happening is a subsidy scheme. As noted in the comments, there was a subsidy scheme in Ireland when a cattle-trader moved ten head back and forth across the ROI-NI border to get a subsidy.

It is a problem when you make a subsidy to export greater than the cost of transportation.
I think we have a winner!!!
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:03 PM   #21
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I think we have a winner!!!
So the question becomes: what is the subsidy?

This could ultimately go all the way up to the Harper government or at least have to have a big sweat-out on the floor come Question Period.
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Old 12-03-2012, 10:21 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Xelebes View Post
So the question becomes: what is the subsidy?

This could ultimately go all the way up to the Harper government or at least have to have a big sweat-out on the floor come Question Period.
I don't know what the subsidies are. But I think subsidies of all sorts need to be eliminated.
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