Archive | Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image

Eco radicals scoff at the law—and the law surrenders – by Peter Foster (Financial Post – October 17, 2016)

Last week’s valve tampering on major Canadian pipelines to the U.S. represents a dangerous escalation of the war against the oilsands, and against fossil-fuelled Western society in general. It also provides a critical test of the rule of law.

Activists belonging to something called Climate Direct Action attempted to shut down five oil pipelines designed to carry 2.7 million barrels a day. They claimed to be acting in support of other protestors who had succeeded in holding up construction of a new pipeline near “sacred” lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.

The five pipelines belong to the companies at the eye of the political storm over new infrastructure in Canada — Enbridge, TransCanada and Kinder Morgan — along with Spectra Energy, which recently merged with Enbridge. Continue Reading →

Daring U.S. pipeline sabotage was originally spawned by lobster boat coal protest in 2013 – by Nia Williams and Laila Kearney (Financial Post – October 14, 2016)

CALGARY, Alberta/NEW YORK • Pipeline sabotage by environmental activists that shook the North American energy industry this week had its roots in a 2013 protest off Massachusetts, when two men in a 32-foot lobster boat blocked a 40,000-ton coal shipment to a power station.

Three years on, Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward, the activists involved in the “Lobster Boat Blockade,” helped mastermind Tuesday’s audacious attempt to shut five major cross-border pipelines which can carry millions of barrels of crude from Canada’s oil sands region to the United States.

Protest group Climate Direct Action has said the action was taken to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which is protesting construction of the US$3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf Coast over fears of damage to sacred land and water supplies. Continue Reading →

Bolt cutters expose vulnerability of North America’s oil pipeline grid – by Liz Hampton and Ethan Lou (Reuters U.S. – October 12, 2016)

HOUSTON/NEW YORK – All it took was a pair of bolt cutters and the elbow grease of a few climate activists to carry out an audacious act of sabotage on North America’s massive oil and gas pipeline system.

For an industry increasingly reliant on gadgets such as digital sensors, infrared cameras and drones to monitor security and check for leaks, the sabotage illustrated how vulnerable pipelines are to low-tech attacks. On Tuesday, climate activists broke through fences and cut locks and chains simultaneously in several states and simply turned the pipelines off.

All they had to do was twist shut giant valves on five cross-border pipelines that together can send 2.8 million barrels a day of crude to the United States from Canada – equal to about 15 percent of daily U.S. consumption. Continue Reading →

No recovery in sight for Canada’s 100,000 unemployed oil workers – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – October 11, 2016)

The recent rise in oil prices and the accelerating political dance to approve a pipeline by imposing a hefty national carbon price are fueling some optimism in the Canadian oil scene – but not for the estimated 100,000 oil workers out of a job, the majority highly educated professionals based in Calgary.

Many have been unemployed for up to two years and have used up severance packages, unemployment insurance (if they got it at all), savings. Their predicament is reflected in Calgary’s alarming unemployment rate – Statistics Canada said Friday it climbed to 9.5 per cent in September, the highest of all major cities in the country, up from 9 per cent in August.

Unemployed oil workers are increasingly worried there is no relief for them, that they have become permanent collateral damage. The oil community that fired them when oil prices tanked isn’t expected to start re-hiring until investment recovers and there is greater certainty about carbon policies. So, we’re talking years. Continue Reading →

Trudeau replaces pipeline uncertainty with carbon price uncertainty – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – October 5, 2016)

By announcing a hefty price on carbon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to be moving closer to finally approving an oil export pipeline.

But he is also creating a new problem: His targeted minimum price on carbon emissions is so high, how it will be implemented so unclear, he’s replacing pipeline uncertainty with carbon price uncertainty — hardly the recipe to restore investor confidence in beaten down Canadian oil and gas.

“We already have a highly uncertain policy environment in Canada now, here in Alberta especially with the NDP changes that have come so fast and furious it’s almost historically unrecognizable, and this is yet another dose of uncertainty in an uncertain investment climate,” said Kenneth Green, Calgary-based senior director of natural resource studies at the Fraser Institute. Continue Reading →

Pro-oil First Nations seek end to pipeline gridlock – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – October 4, 2016)

Environmental movement opponents of proposed pipelines have conveniently cast Canada’s 634 First Nations as a homogeneous block of like-minded partners. What’s not said enough is that many in fact support Canada’s oil and gas sector, are producers themselves or are benefiting from it through business partnerships and revenue sharing, and want to see pipelines move forward.

At a groundbreaking conference in Calgary Monday — entitled the Pipeline Gridlock Conference, a Nation-to-Nation Gathering on Strategy and Solutions — members of Canada’s aboriginal business elite met for the first time to improve dialogue on pipelines and look for ways to support approvals.

Stephen Buffalo, president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, the conference’s organizer, said the meeting is expected to be the first of many and aims to come up with recommendations for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Continue Reading →

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 →