21st November 2014

By erecting new hurdles for Energy East, Quebec is caving to pipeline opponents – by Claudia Cattaneo(National Post – November 21, 2014)

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

As if TransCanada Corp.’s 30,000-page application to the National Energy Board for its proposed Energy East pipeline wasn’t good enough, the Quebec government has laid out seven conditions of its own before allowing the $12-billion project.

In a Nov. 18 letter (in French) to TransCanada president and CEO Russ Girling, Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel said the conditions include passing an environmental assessment that examines its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, echoing President Barack Obama’s warning that he won’t approve Keystone XL if it exacerbates greenhouse gas emissions.

“If the company doesn’t respond to the conditions, the project cannot go ahead,” Mr. Heurtel said.

Quebec approval of Energy East, which would take 1.1 million barrels per day of Alberta crude oil to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick and to ports in both provinces for export, is also contingent on the project providing a thorough emergency plan with a compensation fund in case of a spill; consultations with communities on the potential social impacts; use of the highest technical standards to assure public safety and protection of the environment; satisfying issues dealing with First Nations; generating economic benefits for all of Quebec, especially in job creation in areas where the pipeline will be located. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th November 2014

PR trickery tarnishes oil patch’s credibility – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – November 19, 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 — It’s become the mantra of the oil patch and its top executives: What this country needs is an adult, fact-based conversation about energy. According to a newly unearthed document with TransCanada Corp.’s logo on it, it could also do with a heaping helping of manipulation.

And there, encapsulated in a neat package, is precisely what’s wrong with public discourse about energy development and building pipelines.

Rather than actually sticking to a policy of engaging in open dialogue, promoting economic benefits and addressing concerns with real explanations from experts – all things the industry has pledged to do time and again – there are factions preferring communications black ops, phony grassroots campaigns, squadrons of dutiful Twitter trolls and search-and-destroy missions on opponents.

The document, prepared by Edelman, the global PR firm, for TransCanada and its $12-billion Energy East pipeline proposal, was obtained by Greenpeace and released on Monday.

Some parts include obvious strategies like sticking to a positive message and framing a communication to try to gain trust. Other parts urge the kind of mean-spiritedness the company will want to avoid as it promotes a project that would change the face of the energy industry by moving oil sands crude across six provinces. Read the rest of this entry »

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17th November 2014

Statoil in test case for industry as Canada extends seabed territories – by Alister Doyle (Reuters India – November 17, 2014)

http://in.reuters.com/

OSLO, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Norway’s Statoil risks millions of dollars in extra costs in Canada – a test case that could spell problems for other oil firms too as coastal states extend their seabed territories far into resource-rich ocean depths.

Coastal nations are using U.N laws to extend and define new limits to their seabed territories, pushing beyond a previously established 200-nautical mile (370 kms) zone for drilling and mining as technology opens new frontiers in finding deepwater oil and gas.

But that extended territory comes with a bill to pay a percentage of future revenues to the U.N. body that monitors the international seabed – something governments are seeking to pass on to oil and mining firms.

The rules – articles of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea – have thus far been irrelevant because the regions beyond the previous limit are so remote they would have cost too much to develop.

But industry advances have lately opened up huge deepsea possibilities from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific: specialist firm Transocean drilled a well in a record 3,174 metres (10,411 feet) of water off India last year. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th November 2014

Obama backed into Keystone corner as U.S. House to vote on pipeline Friday – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – November 14, 2014)

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

As the United States Congress moved closer to voting on the Keystone XL pipeline, President Barack Obama seemed increasingly isolated in his dislike of the Canadian project.

After years of bizarre regulatory delays, an out-of-nowhere court challenge in Nebraska and changing White House expectations, the push to line up votes in support of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline is gaining momentum in Washington.

The House of Representatives was expected to start debating a bill to approve the US$8 billion project proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. on Thursday and hold a vote on Friday. The Senate is expected to hold a similar vote early next week, likely on Tuesday.

If Democratic Senators, led by Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu — yes, the instigators are people in President Obama’s own party — manage to line up 60 votes in support of KXL, the bill could be on President Obama’s desk for final approval by the end of next week.

Republicans have been long-time supporters of the project and have vowed to present legislation of their own in January, when they will take over control of both the House and the Senate thanks to their mid-term election wins last week. Read the rest of this entry »

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13th November 2014

Keystone showdown in U.S. emerges as report warns of oil supply threats – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – November 13, 2014)

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

The U.S. Congress prepared to hold votes on the Keystone XL pipeline, Thursday, just as a new report confirmed that Americans need it more than they might think. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that the tight-oil boom that has helped wean the U.S. off imports will likely run out of steam in the next decade.

U.S. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu said she would propose a vote on Thursday to approve the US$8-billion project, which would transport 830,000 barrels a day, primarily from Canada’s oil sands, to refineries in Texas.

Ms. Landrieu, who is at risk of losing her Louisiana seat in a runoff election in December, said on the Senate floor Wednesday she was “confident” she has the votes to pass a bill that would force Washington’s approval, over President Barack Obama’s resistance.

“I believe it is time to act,” said Ms. Landrieu, chair of the Senate Energy Committee and a vocal supporter of KXL, as Congress convened for a lame-duck session.

“I believe we should take the new majority leader at his word and stop blocking legislation that is broadly supported by the public and has been for some time.” A similar vote was expected in the House of Representatives. Read the rest of this entry »

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13th November 2014

Falling oil prices, new tax cuts combine to reduce future surplus projections – by Bill Curry (Globe and Mail – November 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.

TORONTO — The recent drop in oil prices has forced Ottawa to chop billions off its revenue projections, a development that when combined with new tax cuts means the government is expecting only modest surpluses in the coming years.

The annual fall fiscal update is based on an average forecast from private-sector economists, but those figures were delivered in early September and failed to capture the steep drop in oil prices over the past few weeks.

The private sector economists assumed North American crude would be around $98 (U.S.) per barrel, but prices have since dropped to around $81 (U.S.) per barrel.

That has a significant impact on revenues. The government is lowering its expectations for them by $500-million this year and $2.5-billion per year from 2015 to 2019, a move economists described as reasonable in light of the circumstances.

The impact of the reduction – when coupled with recent tax-cut announcements – is that the forecast for next year’s surplus will be $1.9-billion. Read the rest of this entry »

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10th November 2014

Norway proves oil-rich nations can be both green and prosperous – by Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – November 10, 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 — Conventional wisdom suggests a big fossil fuel-producer like Canada can’t be both green and prosperous. It’s one or the other. Norway’s experience suggests this is a false choice.

Through a combination of steep carbon taxes, careful management of its oil wealth and strategic investments in innovation, oil-rich Norway has found a comfortable balance between the environment and growth.

It’s a lesson Canadians should take to heart in the wake of a stark new warning from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the planet is headed for destructive and irreversible climate change without dramatic carbon emission cuts.

Forget Dutch disease. Canadians should embrace the Norwegian antidote. Compared to Canada, Norway’s economy is more competitive, scores better on a range of innovation performance measures and consistently produces higher per capita gross domestic product, and incomes.

And it’s greener, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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7th November 2014

Mr. Obama, pull down that anti-Keystone XL wall – by Peter Foster (National Post – November 6, 2014)

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

This Sunday, November 9, marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, that great symbol of the brutal repression and utter failure of Soviet Communism.

Communism survives only in North Korea and Cuba, although Cuba is reportedly looking to “putinismo” as a possible way out. Russian president Vladimir Putin has in fact provided useful historical service in reminding us of what was on the other side of the wall. His conspicuous pining for the Soviet good old days has prevented Communism from being shoved down the memory hole as a “noble experiment” that inexplicably went astray.

He has also, ironically, exposed the folly of Europe’s commitment to end the age of fossil fuels in order to save the world from capitalism.

Last weekend, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, the politically-corrupted body that is meant to assess climate science, released the final “synthesis” of its Fifth Assessment Report. The mainstream media duly trumpeted the IPCC’s “dire” warnings, but fewer and fewer individuals are listening.

That is not just because people have more immediate worries than how to achieve an emission-free world in 2100. It’s because those regimes most committed to combating climate catastrophe have wreaked the greatest policy fiascos, and nowhere moreso than in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

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6th November 2014

Keystone XL in best position ever to get Washington’s approval – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – November 6, 2014)

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

Canadian energy stocks got a big boost Wednesday from the Republican sweep in the United States’ mid-term elections, and for good reason: TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline is in the best position it’s ever been to finally get Washington’s approval.

Republicans, who are now in control of both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, are expected to move quickly to get approval for KXL, either in stand-alone legislation or by attaching the pipeline’s approval to another bill.

“I think Keystone will be one of the first bills we’ll be able to put up in the new Congress,” John Hoeven, the Republican Senator from North Dakota, told Reuters.

“I’ve got a bill right now that’s got about 56 co-sponsors … and with the election results, we’ll have over 60 who clearly support the legislation.”

The pipeline could also be included in other legislative vehicles, such as bills involving the budget, tax reform, the debt ceiling, energy efficiency or infrastructure.

It helps that there is a new mood in Washington for building consensus. Read the rest of this entry »

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5th November 2014

Vancouver and Calgary: A Tale of Two Cities – by Donald McInnes (Asian Pacific Post – November 4, 2014)

http://www.asianpacificpost.com/

Donald McInnes has an extensive background in mining and renewable energy ventures in BC and elsewhere. Based in Vancouver, he is a partner of Oxygen Capital Corporation.

Recently Canada 2020 hosted an event in Vancouver called “Cities as Nation Builders” featuring Mayors Robertson from Vancouver and Naheed Nenshi from Calgary. When I looked at the agenda I could not help consider the recent election advertisement of Mayor Robertson.

He demands on one hand that the Federal and Provincial governments help Vision Vancouver pay for and build a subway line to UBC and in the same breath says he must protect us from the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Everyone in Canada knows that Alberta does not have a provincial sales tax, is near the top in spending more per capita on health care and education and spends more capita on infrastructure than every single other province. How do they do this? I take comfort that Calgarians know, love and celebrate that they are a service and supply centre for the oil patch which gives governments the ability to pay and provide.

By now most Vancouverites will have noticed the crane that was erected at the Seaspan Shipyard in North Vancouver. To me it’s a powerful symbol of economic prosperity and advancement for the province that come from natural resource development. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th November 2014

Russia’s Dependence on the West – by Grzegorz Kaliszuk (New Eastern Europe – November 3, 2014)

http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/

The conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has been lasting for nearly ten months, has had direct implications on the Russian economy. Foreign investments, as the best tool to integrate the world’s economies, are more and more often bypassing Russia. According to the Central Bank of Russia, the country is going to lose 90 billion US dollars of foreign investments as a result of the war.

The energy industry, which is the core of the Russian economy, is very close to the heart of the Kremlin. As a place where hundreds of different minerals are exploited every day, we generally associate the Russian energy industry with oil and natural gas. However, besides “black gold” and “blue fuel”, Russia’s coal mining is also a very significant part of its energy business. One-third of the world’s coal supplies are located in Russia, primarily in Siberia.

In 2012, the Russian Federation endorsed a long-term coal development programme. Its main aim is to increase Russia’s annual coal production to 430 million tonnes. The first step to success is its large coal reserve. The second are the specialised technologies which are usually purchased from other countries. The current level of exhaustion in the mining infrastructure shows an immediate upgrade is needed in up to 60 per cent of production sites (in 139 open-pit mines and in 93 underground mines).

The Russian coal industry is also a chance for the Polish economy. Until the end of the 1960s, Poland imported coal-mining technologies from Russia – now the boot is on the other foot and the Russian market is dominated by companies like Becker Mining Systems (Germany), Sandvik Mining Construction (Finland) and the export alliance of Czech Mining Technology. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th November 2014

Germany’s Turn Against Coal Risks More Reliance on Russia – by Stefan Nicola, Tino Andresen and Brian Parkin (Bloomberg News – November 3, 2014)

http://www.bloomberg.com/

Germany is turning against coal as a fuel for generating electricity, a move that will boost the nation’s reliance on natural gas from Russia.

Alarmed that curtailing nuclear power has prompted utilities to burn the most coal in six years, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is working on a plan to reinforce Germany’s commitment to reduce fossil-fuel emissions. The Economy Ministry on Oct. 31 published a paper laying the groundwork for the most strict steps yet to limit coal in Europe.

The shift, if implemented, would force Germany to tap Russia for additional supplies, to import power from neighbors and to further subsidize renewables such as solar and wind. That would swell the country’s 100 billion-euro ($126 billion) annual fuel import bill and may raise the cost of electricity paid by consumers, already the second-highest in the European Union.

It would also run counter to efforts by the U.S. and EU to isolate Russia economically.

“The importance of gas, and with that the dependence on Russia, will increase,” said Guido Hoymann, an analyst at B. Metzler Seel Sohn & Co. KGaA. Cross-border exchanges of electricity also would rise, helping the nuclear plants just outside Germany’s border, he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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4th November 2014

In the U.S., a Turning Point in the Flow of Oil – by Clifford Krauss (New York Times – October 7, 2014)

http://www.nytimes.com/

HOUSTON — The Singapore-flagged tanker BW Zambesi set sail with little fanfare from the port of Galveston, Tex., on July 30, loaded with crude oil destined for South Korea. But though it left inauspiciously, the ship’s launch was another critical turning point in what has been a half-decade of tectonic change for the American oil industry.

The 400,000 barrels the tanker carried represented the first unrestricted export of American oil to a country outside of North America in nearly four decades. The Obama administration insisted there was no change in energy trade policy, perhaps concerned about the reaction from environmentalists and liberal members of Congress with midterm elections coming.

But many energy experts viewed the launch as the curtain raiser for the United States’ inevitable emergence as a major world oil exporter, an improbable return to a status that helped make the country a great power in the first half of the 20th century.

“The export shipment symbolizes a new era in U.S. energy and U.S. energy relations with the rest of the world,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian. “Economically, it means that money that was flowing out of the United States into sovereign wealth funds and treasuries around the world will now stay in the U.S. and be invested in the U.S., creating jobs. It doesn’t change everything, but it certainly provides a new dimension to U.S. influence in the world.” Read the rest of this entry »

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31st October 2014

Energy East is worth the fight – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – October 31, 2014)

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

TransCanada Corp.’s twin-cities news conference Thursday to announce the filing of its Energy East application to the National Energy Board was pipeline theatre at its finest.

After 18 months of planning, the company presented to the world a 30,000-page document — filling 68 binders in 11 official-looking boxes — to provide evidence in support of the $12-billion project.

The Calgary-based company pulled out all the stops: There were panels of top executives in both Toronto and Quebec City to explain the benefits, representatives of business, trade unions, and municipalities present to demonstrate the depth and breadth of support, simultaneous French/English translation and no question left unanswered — about whether the project threatens beluga whales, whether it contributes to climate change or whether the company deserves to be trusted given some recent incidents in its system.

“At over 30,000 pages, the document is one of the most extensive regulatory applications ever developed in our history,” Russ Girling, president and CEO of TransCanada told media in Toronto. “The final result is a body of work that I believe achieves what we set out to do many months ago, and that is to listen — we listened to communities, businesses, governments, landowners and other stakeholders across this country.” Read the rest of this entry »

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31st October 2014

Alberta pushes for rule change to spur Chinese investment – by Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – October 31, 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.

BEIJING — Alberta’s new political leadership is calling on Ottawa to take another look at foreign investment rules blamed for a dramatic drop in energy investments from China.

When the federal government gave its approval of the $15.1-billion (U.S.) takeover of Nexen Energy ULC in late 2012, it came with a caveat: a raft of new policies intended to ensure such a deal would not happen again. Canada is not “for sale to foreign governments,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said as he effectively blacklisted state-owned companies from further oil-sands takeovers.

The guidelines sparked worry in China, and prompted warnings from the energy industry, bankers and lawyers. The guidelines, some have said, are discriminatory against China, and have blocked a major source of money that could be used to build a new generation of Fort McMurray-area projects.

Now, the Alberta government itself is taking up those concerns with the federal government, in hopes of again prying open the spigots from China. “We are urging a review of some of the quick changes that were done to our Investment Canada Act,” said Ron Hoffmann, the province’s newly named senior representative for the Asia-Pacific Basin.

Read the rest of this entry »

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