Archive | Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image

LNG approval part of broader Liberal strategy to get more pipelines built – by Michael Den Tandt (National Post – September 30, 2016)

Make no mistake: the federal cabinet’s approval of Malaysian state-owned Petronas’s $36-billion Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas project is a template for things to come. The Liberals’ longevity in power depends on it — and they know it.

Whether the plan unfolds as designed remains to be seen. But the political reality changes immediately. With New Democrats and Greens hollering “slow down!” and Conservatives shouting “speed up!,” the Liberals are now precisely where they want to be on energy. The opposing lines of attack stand to solidify the government’s position, not hurt it.

It is the fruition of a strategy that dates to 2012, before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader, when he and his team were casting about for a lever by which to persuade skeptical kitchen-table conservatives in Ontario — yes, there are many such beings, provincial politics notwithstanding — to take him seriously. Continue Reading →

Pacific NorthWest LNG project stalled by more than 190 federal conditions – by Brent Jang and Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – September 29, 2016)

VANCOUVER/OTTAWA — The consortium behind a massive energy project approved by the federal Liberal cabinet is hesitant about forging ahead even after investing billions of dollars in British Columbia.

Pacific NorthWest LNG, led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas, will need months to examine more than 190 conditions attached to Ottawa’s approval of a proposed B.C. terminal to export liquefied natural gas from Lelu Island.

“Petronas and its partners will study the conditions imposed by the Canadian authorities and conduct a total review of the proposed project prior to deciding on the next steps forward,” Petronas said Wednesday in a statement from Kuala Lumpur. Continue Reading →

Royal Bank of Canada CEO touts pipelines as key to transitioning to a greener economy – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – September 27, 2016

CALGARY – The head of Canada’s largest bank made the case for new pipelines on Monday, while also calling for a national price on carbon.

“Our ability in the decades ahead to finance innovation, to create technologies that will power the 21st century and help transform the world to a cleaner economy, depends on our decisions today to get our natural resources to market,” Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay told a business luncheon in Edmonton.

Demand for oil and gas continues to rise around the world and domestic energy companies will lose their window to supply the market without new pipelines, he said. If that happens, McKay said, Canadian governments will need to tax other sectors to make up for lost revenue. “We can’t get to the economy of the future if we don’t use all of our resources, smartly and sustainably,” he said. Continue Reading →

North American Aboriginals, First Nations join hands to thwart domestic oil development – by Henry Lazenby ( – September 23, 2016)

VANCOUVER ( – Canadian and Northern US Aboriginal groups and First Nations, this week, adopted the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, seeking to officially prohibit and collectively challenge and resist oil sands industry expansion in Alberta. This extends to preventing the transport of such expanded production, whether by pipeline, rail or tanker.

Some 50 First Nations and tribes have committed to stopping five current tar sands pipeline and tanker project proposals – Kinder Morgan, Energy East, Line 3, Northern Gateway and Keystone XL – as well as tar sands rail projects such as the Chaleur Terminals export project, at the Port of Belledune, in New Brunswick.

“What this treaty means is that, from Quebec, we will work with our First Nation allies in British Columbia to ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline does not pass and we will also work with our tribal allies in Minnesota as they take on Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, and we know they’ll help us do the same against Energy East,” said Kanesatake grand chief Serge Simon. Continue Reading →

Ecuadorians sit and watch as US$9.5B pollution judgment against Chevron debated – by Drew Hasselback (Financial Post – September 13, 2016)

TORONTO — Humberto Piaguaje sat quietly in a Toronto courtroom as Canadian corporate lawyers traded arguments over the fate of a multi-billion dollar legal battle involving his community in Ecuador.

Piaguaje represents a community of about 30,000 from the Amazon jungle who in 2011 won a US$9.5 billion pollution judgment against California-based Chevron Corp. after a seven-year long trial in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian plaintiffs have come to Toronto to ask an Ontario judge to let them enforce the judgment by seizing shares of Chevron Canada, the U.S. oil giant’s Canadian subsidiary.

“We had to travel here all the way from the Amazon, seeking justice against Chevron,” Piaguaje said through an interpreter during an interview outside the courtroom. “I am seeing that corporations only care about protecting themselves and are only looking out for themselves.” Continue Reading →

A Market-Roiling La Nina Is Dividing World Weather Forecasters – by Brian K Sullivan(Bloomberg News – September 14, 2016)

A meteorological clash of nations is confounding the world’s commodity markets. Global weather agencies can’t agree on whether to expect a La Nina event in coming months. The U.S. has backed off its prediction, Australia remains watchful, while Japan has decided La Nina is already here. Disagreements arise because each nation has different standards for measuring the weather.

The ocean-cooling phenomenon — a shift from last year’s warming El Nino — can roil commodities markets with dramatic shifts in weather that wreak havoc on demand and supplies. The yes-no-maybe confusion is giving heartburn to natural gas, coal and agricultural traders who depend on forecasts to place bets on whether prices will rise or fall.

“There are billions of dollars of capital at stake,” said Teri Viswanath, managing director of natural gas at PIRA Energy Group in New York. Continue Reading →

Crude prices stage retreat as slow economies weigh on demand – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – September 14, 2016)

OTTAWA — Prospects for the long-sought rebalancing of oil markets are rapidly fading, sending crude prices and share prices tumbling Tuesday.

In another bleak forecast for the battered industry, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said on Tuesday that a weakened global economy has sharply reduced the growth in crude demand, while producers in the Middle East continue to pump oil at record levels.

As a result, oil markets won’t come back into balance until the end of 2017 unless there are unanticipated outages like last spring’s fires that shut more than one million barrels a day of production from the oil sands, said the IEA, which advises rich countries on energy policy. Continue Reading →

Let’s stop muddying the pipeline debate with false narratives – by BArrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – September 12, 2016)

OTTAWA – Suppose you’re concerned about the destruction of Canada’s forests. So you join a campaign fighting the construction of a new highway in northern British Columbia – a road that would make it easier for logging companies to tap vast new timber reserves. The road’s critics throw up a host of objections, including the danger of runaway trucks, diesel fumes, noise pollution and traffic.

But it’s not really the road opponents don’t like. It’s the logging itself. And unfortunately, stopping the road won’t stop the harvest – not in British Columbia, not in the rest of Canada, nor anywhere else in the world. As long as the world depends on wood to make homes, furniture, diapers and printer paper, there will be logging.

Perhaps you’ve guessed already. This isn’t a column about logging. It’s about Energy East, a proposed 4,500-kilometre pipeline that would transport 1.1 million barrels of oil sands crude from Western Canada to refineries in Eastern Canada as well as tankers for export. Continue Reading →

Environmentalists around the world are trying to drag Canada’s legal system into disgrace – by Peter Foster (Financial Post – September 9, 2016)

Corporations have become increasingly vulnerable to reputational damage inflicted by powerful environmental organizations that misrepresent business activities and intimidate customers.

Companies also find themselves subject to shakedowns over alleged environmental damage. It is all too rare for business to fight back, but two of the most significant examples are currently making their way through the Canadian judicial system.

The first is the suit brought by Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace alleging “defamation, malicious falsehood and intentional interference with economic relations.” The second involves Chevron Corp.’s stout opposition to U.S. lawyer Steve Donziger’s attempt to bring a corrupt Ecuadorian judgment to Canada. The two cases were linked this week when Greenpeace joined the assault on Chevron. Continue Reading →

First Nation buying stake in Suncor storage project for $350M – by Reid Southwick (Calgary Herald – September 6, 2016)

In what has been hailed as a rare deal between First Nations and industry, oilsands giant Suncor Energy Inc. will sell a stake in a bitumen storage terminal in northern Alberta to Fort McKay First Nation for $350 million.

The indigenous group will acquire 34.3 per cent of Suncor’s East Tank Farm project, which will store, cool and blend bitumen from the Fort Hills mine north of Fort McMurray before transporting it in pipelines.

Mark Little, an executive vice-president at Suncor, said the Calgary-based producer will secure far more than money when the deal is finalized, expected in the second quarter of 2017. “If our entire business and focus was just about making money, we wouldn’t do this; we’d just say, fine, we’ll keep it to ourselves,” Little said in an interview. Continue Reading →

Michael Den Tandt: Trudeau’s China strategy fails unless he gets a pipeline built – by Michael Den Tandt (National Post – September 2, 2016)

The Trudeau government’s exquisitely choreographed trade overture to Beijing is timely, necessary and overdue. If only the second linchpin in the strategy, new pipeline capacity to make Canada’s most important export accessible to Pacific markets, weren’t going so completely off the rails.

The debacle in Montreal — National Energy Board hearings into the Energy East pipeline proposal were suspended Tuesday because of violent protests — bodes ill for this and other resource projects. There may yet be a way through, but that’s difficult to see, absent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stepping off the fence on which he has been carefully perched and making the case for a national pipeline.

The diplomacy on display in Beijing this week is almost too perfect for words. The Chinese have backed off, for the time being, on canola. Canada will seek membership in the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Continue Reading →

NEB protesters substitute disorder for reasoned argument – Editorial (National Post – August 31, 2016)

The National Energy Board’s Montreal hearings on TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline proposal got off to a revealingly awful start on Monday. A small knot of protesters rushed in, politicians walked out and the process disintegrated. The NEB has now suspended the hearings indefinitely.

Is it really necessary to note that storming the podium, wrestling with police and haranguing witnesses are not the means by which mature democracies make important decisions? “Progressives” maintain that this sort of “direct action,” or whatever term is used to excuse it, reflects an advanced social conscience. What it really does is substitute disorder for reasoned argument.

NEB hearings are straightforward affairs. Commissioners sit at a table listening to people’s views. Their job is to ascertain the facts in an impartial manner. It’s about as basic an example of the democratic process as you can get. Continue Reading →

Ottawa’s gameplan on climate change in shambles as Energy East hearings spiral into soap opera – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – August 31, 2016)

As the rule of law forbids these personal interests and considerations to wade into the application of the law, it would be inconsistent with the constitutional principle for a social licence to be determinative of a project’s approval.

The deplorable violent demonstrations during the National Energy Board’s hearings on the Energy East pipeline in Montreal, and Tuesday’s announcement the hearings have been suspended indefinitely, provide more proof Ottawa’s pursuit of social licence for major energy projects is pointless, even harmful.

Instead of producing more opportunity for public input and building credibility of regulatory reviews, the hearings have degenerated into a soap opera. The result? More delays. Continue Reading →

Pipelines, red tape and climate change policies are killing Chinese investment in oilsands – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – August 30, 2016)

During his visit to China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to offer to ease ownership restrictions in the oilsands by state-owned enterprises to rekindle Chinese investment in Canadian oil and gas.

The issue of oil-sands investment is one “that we’re certainly going to lean into,” Trudeau said Friday. He left Monday for a 10-day trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Hangzhou, where he’ll attend the Group of 20 summit. His schedule includes a meeting with Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, the controlling shareholder of Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc., a significant oilsands player.

The Liberal government is focused on “ways we can enhance the Canadian economy,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who is on the trip as well, said on Aug. 21. “In that light, we seek to encourage investment in Canada and that’ll be something we’ll be bringing forward in meetings in China as we will in bilateral meetings with all the countries we meet.” Continue Reading →

Canada — and particularly Alberta’s oil industry — paying higher price for climate change policy than U.S. – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – August 26, 2016)

As Alberta struggles with its most devastating recession ever, a new study highlights why different climate change policy choices made by Canada and the United States point to continued hardship for Canada’s top oil producing province.

The two trading partners are focusing on different areas for GHG reductions and are using different policy tools because of their unique resource endowments, geography, climate, history and politics, according to the study by IHS Energy, led by Kevin Birn.

In the U.S., the front line is power generation from coal, because that is its largest source of emissions. In Canada, the bull’s eye is on oil and gas, and particularly the oilsands. Continue Reading →