Monday, February 18, 2013

Survey today by Mustel on North Coast Refinery and Oil Pipeline

I got an email today from Mustel asking me to take part in a survey.   I am unimpressed with the survey, it was not well done and seems to be designed to get the answers the client wants.   I assume the client is the Kitimat Clean Refinery proposal.

I made note of all the non-demographic questions asked.  Here are the questions:

When ever they ask if you support or oppose there are five options, Strongly Support, Moderately Support, Moderately Oppose, Strongly Oppose, and Not Sure
Question #1

As you may know, a proposal is underway to build a $13 billion refinery on British Columbia's northwest coast.  The facility would refine oilsands bitumen into lighter petroleum products - such as diesel, gasoline or jet fuel - that would be largely exported to Asia.  Have you read or heard anything about the proposal?

Question #1a  based on having heard of the project
Do you support or oppose this proposal?

Why is that?  Please be specific

Interesting that the question is not a simple "Have you heard of a proposed oil refinery for BCs northwest coast".   The question is not neutral but one with positive attributes about the refinery in it.   It will mean that the results from this question will not give the client an accurate read of the public mood because too much bias is built into the survey.

Question #2
The following is some further information about the proposed refinery.  Please indicate if this information makes you more inclined to support the proposal, less inclined or has no impact on your opinions.

  • Approximately 6,000 jobs would be created during the refinery's five year construction
  • Refining the oil in BC would add value to our natural resources before exporting
  • Refining petroleum products - diesel, gasoline or jet fuel - would float and evaporate if spilled, mitigating the risk of offshore pollution or damaging BC's coastline.
  • Local First Nations and local communities would benefit from tax revenue and employment generated by the refinery. 
  • Approximately 3,000 permanent jobs would be created during the refinery's ongoing operations.
  • The refinery would generate considerable tax revenues for BC and Canada.
  • The refinery would be built with state of the art, world leading technology that minimizes pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Notice that none of the attributes are negative.  This question is clearly intended to sway the opinion of the people being polled.   Low and behold we get the next question:

Question #3
Now that you have hard more about the proposed refinery, do you support or oppose this proposal?

Why is that?  Please be specific

You already asked me this in the second part of question #1 so is the role of question 2 and 3 to measure what attributes change opinions?  Given that I expect Mustel will only ask 500 to 2000 people to answer the survey there is no way the nuances of any changes in opinions could be usefully measured.  I think it is really a case of push polling

Question #4
There are only two methods to transport bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to British Columbia's northwest coast: through pipelines and by rail.   Think about this, do you support or oppose each of these methods of transporting bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to a West Coast refinery?

  • Through a new pipeline proposal
  • By rail
  • Thorough the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline
I am not sure what the goal of the question is.  Maybe to make people worry about trains full of bitumen?  Or think someone else is proposing a pipeline?  Or to make the Enbridge pipeline look better?   

What is not asked is "Do you support oil being transported across BC?"   That is I think the more relevant question.

Question #5
All things considered, do you agree or disagree with each one of these statements?

  • BC and Canada should diversify exports to find markets beyond the United States for Canada's petroleum resources.
  • BC and Canada should add value to natural resources at home before exporting
  • Building a refinery on British Columbia's northwest coast should be a priority for provincial and federal politicians.
  • Refining bitumen oil in BC is better than shipping it offshore to be refined.

These are also the sort of questions that will give the client some positive responses to show off.   Who can be opposed to diversifying exports?   The results are meaningless because of the constricted range of the statements and possible multiple choice answers.

Once again, the assumption is that bitumen will end up in Kitimat and nothing is asked about if people want an oil pipeline or not.

Question #6
Are you in favour or opposed to the current Northern Gateway pipeline plan to load bitumen from the Alberta oil sands on tankers in Kitimat for shipment offshore?

Notice, the question is not really about the pipeline but about the exports.   

Question #7
If a provincial election where being held tomorrow, which party's candidate would you support? (This is how it was laid out)

NDP                       Other (specify)
BC Liberal                Don't Know
Conservative Party of BC  Rather Not Say
Green Party               Would Not Vote/None

I am unimpressed with the quality of this survey

Here are screen shots of the survey:

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