20th August 2014

Lax safety measures to blame for Lac-Mégantic tragedy, safety board says – by Allan Woods (Toronto Star – August 20, 2014)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada identified 18 distinct factors that led to the Lac-Mégantic rail crash, including mechanical problems, unsuitable tank cars carrying crude oil, the cost-conscious rail firm and human error.

MONTREAL — Blame a rule-breaking rail company, blame ineffective train inspectors, but don’t blame the federal government for the deadly Lac-Mégantic train disaster, says Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

In the wake of a scathing report into the July 2013 derailment that killed 47 people in the Quebec town, Raitt pointed the finger at three employees of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railway now charged with criminal negligence, and referred questions about lapses leading to the accident to bureaucrats under her command.

“We need to remember that in terms of safety, the government puts the rules in place. The companies are expected to follow the rules,” Raitt said in Ottawa. “The company did not follow the rules and that’s a very important fact here too.”

The Transportation Safety Board’s definitive account of the incident said the crash was caused by a marginal rail company that put profits before safety during more than a decade in business. Read the rest of this entry »

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18th August 2014

China faces buyer’s remorse in Canada’s oil patch – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – August 18, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

CALGARY — Chinese companies have shelled out more than $30-billion in Canada’s energy industry, but many of those investments have been hit with operational problems, delays and weak returns, leading to growing impatience in some quarters in China.

PetroChina Co. Ltd., Sinopec, CNOOC Ltd., China Investment Corp. and other state-owned enterprises made a raft of big bets on oil sands projects, shale developments and domestic companies since 2005 and many have yet to pay off.

There is “absolutely” some buyer’s remorse stemming from many of China’s big-ticket acquisitions, said Samir Kayande, vice-president of energy research at ITG Investment Research, who has done intensive studies of some of the deals.

Some problems were the result of purchases made during a rush on assets across the industry, when competition from both domestic and foreign buyers was brisk, Mr. Kayande said. Eventually, assets in the best geological regions are likely to pay off, and those further from the earliest developments will lag in performance, he said.

Officials with the Chinese companies, and Canadians familiar with their thinking, say it is far too early to deem the buying spree, in a notoriously difficult industry, a bust. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th August 2014

Clark still promising natural gas dream will produce ‘billions’ to slay B.C.’s debt – by Brian Hutchinson (National Post – August 14, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Time and other factors are shredding British Columbia’s $1-trillion liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion dreams, served up by Premier Christy Clark and leading to her successful — and disingenuous — provincial election campaign last year.

Despite more and more skepticism, she’s still running with it. An expanded LNG industry in B.C. will eliminate the province’s mounting debt, or so the premier claims. As well, “billions-of-dollars in new [LNG] revenue will be dedicated” to a “Prosperity Fund,” a sort of rainy-day account “for the benefit of current and future generations.”

How many “billions-of-dollars” does Ms. Clark have in mind? “More than $100-billion.” That’s a loose figure, based on estimates from reports commissioned by the B.C. government and assuming at least five new LNG plants will soon enter production in the province.

B.C. has a lot of natural gas; in theory, much of it can be piped from the hinterland to seaports, then chilled, liquefied and shipped to markets in Asia.

Easier said than done. Ms. Clark’s “billions-of-dollars” promise relies on a whole lot of what-ifs; nonetheless, the premier and her B.C. Liberal Party ran with it, declaring themselves wealth generators, job creators, debt busters. Their opponents, the B.C. New Democratic Party, offered no compelling response in the election, and lost. Read the rest of this entry »

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13th August 2014

Oil prices fall to 13-month low despite global conflicts – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – August 13, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

CALGARY — Ample crude supplies and a weak global economic outlook have pushed world oil prices to a 13-month low despite armed conflicts that have flared up in key producing regions.

Oil markets are “almost eerily calm” even as geopolitical risks abound in the Middle East and in other important energy regions, the International Energy Agency said in the August edition of its much-followed Oil Market Report.

The world is well supplied, after Saudi Arabia ramped up production past 10 million barrels a day, its highest in nearly a year, and its OPEC partner Libya eked out tentative gains. They have made up for losses in Iraq, Iran and Nigeria this summer, the IEA said. Meanwhile, North America’s oil-production renaissance has hummed along unabated.

At the same time, the IEA cut its oil-demand forecast for 2014 by 180,000 barrels a day, after crude deliveries in the Americas and Europe in the last quarter sank by 440,000 barrels a day and the global economy underperformed previous expectations. It trimmed its outlook for all-important Chinese demand growth to 2.9 per cent from 3.3 per cent. Read the rest of this entry »

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11th August 2014

We need to refine our oil sands ambitions – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – August 11, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Click here for the Canadian Academy of Engineering’s policy document: http://www.cae-acg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/CANADA-July9.pdf

In June, a ship carrying about 600,000 barrels of crude from Alberta’s oil sands arrived in Bilbao, Spain, by way of Houston, Tex. The circuitous journey by rail and tanker to Spanish oil giant Repsol’s Bilbao refinery made economic sense, given the price discount on Canadian crude.

Despite European hostility toward “dirty” oil from Canada, refiners there may look more to Alberta for supply as price differentials and sanctions on Russia whet their appetite for cheaper grades from across the pond. But what looks like just another market opportunity for Alberta producers is also a telling example of Canada’s failure to maximize the value of its resources.

The promoters of pipeline projects in various stages of development insist the completion of these conduits is the key to eliminating transportation bottlenecks that have depressed the price of so-called Western Canadian Select oil. And while that is partly true, the “success” of these projects would still mean the export of unprocessed Alberta bitumen beyond our borders.

The skilled jobs, technological development and economic activity involved in upgrading our oil resources into value-added petroleum products would still occur outside Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

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29th July 2014

U.K. opens more than half of country to drilling, goes ‘all out for shale’ – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – July 29, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

David Cameron’s long and risky campaign to unleash a shale gas revolution in Britain finally met with success on Monday, when government ministers opened up more than half the country to drilling.

The prime minister and his top deputies had been promoting shale gas for years, declaring that his government is “going all out for shale” as a way to reverse the country’s dependency on imported fuels, create jobs and bring down, or a least slow the relentless increase, of energy prices.

Lately, the crisis in Ukraine added a geo-political boost to their effort. Russia is the top supplier of gas to Europe and much of that gas travels through Ukrainian pipelines.

But the drilling approval has come with severe restrictions that deprived Mr. Cameron of total victory. Drilling in national parks and “areas of outstanding natural beauty” will only be allowed in “exceptional circumstances,” government guidelines dictated. Those circumstances were not immediately clear.

A spokeswoman for the department of communities and local government, publisher of the new drilling guidelines, said “defining exceptional circumstances is not an easy thing to do. It all depends on local communities and local conditions.” Read the rest of this entry »

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28th July 2014

Pact Putinia: How Russia’s gas plan will unfold – by Diane Francis (National Post – July 26, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Speculation about President Vladimir Putin proliferates. Does he want to occupy Ukraine? Has he gone too far by arming and training Russian mercenaries who shot down the Malaysian Air jet with 298 passengers? Why is he thumbing his nose at global outrage and more sanctions? What will stop him?

Such questions miss the mark.

Putin has been executing the same business/geopolitical model for years aimed at guaranteeing his natural gas monopoly in Europe and keeping out rivals.

Ukraine is his latest victim because it ousted his puppet, Victor Yanukovych, and also because its huge oil and gas reserves could eventually make Ukraine a competitor for European customers.

Russia has controlled Ukraine since it declared independence in 1991, mostly through corruption. But in 2005, the populace staged the 2005 Orange Revolution and the 2013-14 Maidan uprising rose up against and finally expelled Yanukovych. But their victory became defeat because Putin changed tactics by shifting from managing a Ukrainian kleptocracy to engineering a fake insurrection in parts of the country to turn its resource base into a no-go zone. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th July 2014

Cold Lake heats up as oil boom beckons – by Yadullah Hussain (National Post – July 25, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Osum Oil Sands Corp. CEO Steve Spence says he used to call Cold Lake the “unknown story in the oil sands”.

Not any more. While the city of Fort McMurray further north has garnered all the attention for its rapid growth, Cold Lake city has been an oil boomtown in its own right with production in its vicinity ramping up to half a million barrels per day.

“It is actually the most understood region [in terms of geology],” Mr. Spence said, although the Athabasca basin in Fort McMurray produces the bulk of Canada’s oil output.

Osum made a big move in Cold Lake in June, picking up Royal Dutch Shell Plc.’s assets in the region for $325-million. The Orion project produces about 6,700-bpd and is located close to the company’s Taiga facility, which is yet to start production. Mr. Spence expects the Orion transaction to close by the end of the month.

Mayor Craig Copeland says his city is ripe for a new boom.

“In the past few years, we have really seen a ramp up in development in our city. We have had several small booms before, but all of a sudden a lot of people have been coming to work on construction sites,” Mr. Copeland said in an interview. “This past winter —the winter that was so cold —we had approximately a good 3,000 people embedded in the community in rentals; houses and hotels were full.” Read the rest of this entry »

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22nd July 2014

[Canadian federal minister] Leona Aglukkaq targets Greenpeace in ICC speech – (CBC News – July 22, 2014)

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north

Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut’s MP and Canada’s Minister of Environment, had strong words against Greenpeace in her keynote address at the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s general assembly in Inuvik, N.W.T.

“Inuit were victims of misinformation and lies spread by a group that had no regard for their impact on our way of life,” she said of Greenpeace’s campaign against the seal hunt.

She did not specifically mention the issue of seismic testing to look for oil and gas reserves in Nunavut. Greenpeace opposes seismic testing and has been working with Inuit groups in Nunavut who are fighting federally-approved seismic testing off Baffin Island over concerns of the effects the tests would have on marine mammals.

Aglukkaq said Inuit need to stick together and not be manipulated. “Other people who are not our friends will try to use Inuit as weapons in their own battles,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

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21st July 2014

Lone producer, Canadian firm lead charge on Greek energy – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – July 21, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

ATHENS – In the 1970s, an unlikely company played a key role in opening up Greece’s oil and gas industry. That company was Toronto’s Denison Mines, then better known as a uranium miner but one with ambitions to put the Eastern Mediterranean on the energy map.

It worked for a while. Offshore rigs in the Prinos field, in the brilliant blue northern Aegean Sea, pumped away until the late 1990s, when the oil price collapsed. The Denison-led consortium handed the entire project to the Greek government and walked away.

For the next two decades, pretty much nothing happened in the Greek oil and gas sector even though the country’s energy bill was soaring.

That all changed in 2009, when a new Greek explorer, Energean Oil & Gas, prodded the old field back to life. Today, it is Greece’s only oil producer and, with the help of a small Canadian company, Petra Petroleum, is leading the charge to prove that Greece can meet a good chunk of its energy needs.

“Any discoveries of oil and gas would be a huge benefit to the local market,” said Energean chief executive officer Mathios Rigas, a former investment banker and private equity fund manager. “We will never find out unless we drill wells.” Foreign investors are starting to pay attention. Read the rest of this entry »

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18th July 2014

Australia’s carbon reversal sets new tone for global climate talks – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – July 18, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s move to repeal his country’s carbon tax provides an international boost for the Harper government, which has regularly attacked opponents who propose putting a price on emissions in Canada.

Australia’s reversal on carbon pricing comes at a critical time, just two months prior to a United Nations climate summit to be hosted by secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who is looking for countries to commit to post-2020 emission reductions and new policies to achieve those targets.

And it comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper faces continued pressure to impose some form of carbon pricing in Canada, particularly in the booming oil sands where rising emissions threaten to swamp the government’s commitment to rein in carbon pollution.

Mr. Abbott visited Canada last month, and Mr. Harper commended him for ending the “job-killing carbon tax” as the Australian had pledged during last year’s general election in which he defeated the Labor Party-led coalition government. With their resource-based economies and relatively small populations occupying large land masses, Australia and Canada are among the world’s top per-capita emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Read the rest of this entry »

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18th July 2014

Chinese arrest of former PetroChina Canadian chief casts shadow over Athabasca Oil projects – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – July 17, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

CALGARY – In a move that adds uncertainty to PetroChina’s plans for Canada, Zhiming Li, the PetroChina executive who built and headed the Chinese company’s operations in this country for the past four years, has been arrested by the Chinese government.

According to a July 16 report in Caixin, a Beijing-based financial media news organization, Mr. Li “was taken in for questioning … directly at the airport” as he returned to China last month from Canada.

As reported in the Financial Post July 10, Mr. Li was unexpectedly replaced last month as CEO of Brion Energy Corp., as PetroChina’s subsidiary in Canada is known, by Shudong Chen.

Mr. Chen is still in China as he has not yet received a permit to work in Canada. The Chinese newspaper, which didn’t cite sources, said Yiwu Song, the deputy manager of overseas exploration and development at China National Petroleum Corp., was also taken away last week. The newspaper said the arrests follow a probe into Qiliang Bo, the former chief of PetroChina’s international business.

Mr. Li’s questioning links PetroChina’s Canadian operation to a corruption probe in China that has targeted the country’s top oil companies, has resulted in many arrests and is expected to slow down decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

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15th July 2014

‘The doorway has been kicked open’: Why oil patch juniors are growing again – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – July 14, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

After years of tough slugging, Canada’s junior oils are back in the spotlight, riding the low Canadian dollar, higher oil and gas prices and an influx of new capital — a lot of it American.

IPOs, brisk merger and acquisition activity, soaring share prices are signs the entrepreneurial ranks of Canada’s oil patch are growing again, said Gary Leach, president of the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada.

“You have to have the right profile, the right management team and the right story, but definitely the doorway has been kicked open in the equity markets,” Mr. Leach said. “There is an appetite for Canadian juniors and intermediate companies, and that is great to see because this industry has been waiting for quite some time.”

If the trend holds, it could mean a new round of industry renewal led by juniors focused on producing oil and gas using horizontal multi-stage fracturing of tight rock.

“There is quite a better mood since the start of the year, than at any time in the past three,” said Kevin Adair, president and CEO of Petrus Resources Ltd., a private oil and gas junior company that produces about 5,000 barrels a day. “It seems capital is willing to take a chance on new teams and I think there will be a resurgence of teams starting up again, and new names — not just the same guys cycling for another round.” Read the rest of this entry »

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11th July 2014

Aboriginal title ruling ‘all but guarantees uncertainty’ for CA mining projects – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – July 11, 2014)

http://www.mineweb.com/

“Future natural resources projects may be scuttled, and existing projects may be halted or shut down,” said Ravina Bains of the Fraser Institute.

RENO (MINEWEB) – In a briefing published Thursday, British Columbia’s Fraser Institute’s Centre for Aboriginal Policy Studies warned that a recent Canadian Supreme Court ruling granting a group of six B.C. First Nations title to a large piece of land outside their reserves “will likely stunt economic development across Canada”.

“This court ruling all but guarantees uncertainty for natural resource projects in Canada and a potential increase in cost for economic development across the country,” said Ravina Bains, associate director of Aboriginal policy studies at the Fraser Institute.”

Unlike previous court rulings, the Tsilhqot-in Nation v. British Columbia judgment states that Aboriginal title can extend to all traditional territories and is not limited to specific villages. “This is particularly important in B.C. where one-third of the country’s First Nations reserves reside and where outstanding claims involve more than 100% of the province’s land,” said the Frasier Institute study. Read the rest of this entry »

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11th July 2014

Why the Supreme Court’s Tsilhqot’in land title decision is no game changer – by Robin Junger (National Post – July 10, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Robin Junger is a lawyer with McMillan LLP and co-chairs its aboriginal and environmental law groups. He is a former Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources for the Province of British Columbia.

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Tsilhqot’in v. British Columbia is important. But it is not the first case dealing with aboriginal title and it is not a “game changer” that will undermine governmental authority or the ability to approve projects in the resource sector.

Perhaps the most legally significant aspect of the judgment is that it confirms, subject to certain requirements, governments – including provincial governments – can continue to regulate the land base where aboriginal title is claimed or proven.

And the reasons for which title can be infringed are not vague. The court has, twice now, expressly stated that these reasons can include purposes such as infrastructure development, mining, and forestry, provided justification is shown. So while this decision is historic and significant for the Tsilhqot’in people who have been the first to successfully prove title in a specific area, it simply does not represent a fundamental advance for the law of aboriginal title. Read the rest of this entry »

posted in Aboriginal and Inuit Mining, British Columbia Mining, Canada Mining, Canadian Media Resource Articles, Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image | 1 Comment

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