Archive | Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image

Meet the new [resource environmental] regulations. Same as the old regulations – by Melanie Paradis (National Post – February 5, 2016)

On the heels of the federal government’s new principles for environmental assessments, the Conservatives were quick to condemn the changes as obstructive to industry and the economy. This was rather cheeky of them, given that it was their government that rewrote our environmental legislation to include many of the very same principles.

To their credit, the Conservatives did make significant strides in improving and streamlining environmental approval processes. Streamlining did not mean diminishing regulation; quite the opposite. Harmonization with the provincial regulators removed redundant bureaucratic processes.

Previously, developers would need to produce multiple versions of reports that shared the same information but in slightly different formats while meeting slightly different specifications. Harmonization meant both levels of government would agree to use a single format and eliminate duplication. This may seem like a painfully obvious step, but it was only taken in 2012. Continue Reading →

Trudeau keeps digging himself deeper into a resources hole – by Gwyn Morgan (Globe and Mail – February 1, 2016)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a penchant for clever quips. He seems to especially relish combining them with digs at Stephen Harper, like his speech in Davos earlier this month, where he said, “My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources. I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

Besides being a gratuitous shot that hardly dignifies his position, it’s an ill-considered message to political and business leaders of countries that pay hundreds of billions of dollars for those resources.

Digging the hole deeper, Mr. Trudeau went on to say, “But Canadians also know … that growth and prosperity is not just a matter of what lies under our feet, but what lies between our ears.” Continue Reading →

Canada’s economic image problem – by Eugene Lang and Philip DeMont (Toronto Star – February 2, 2016)

The loonie rises and falls with the price of oil not because ours is a petro-economy but because the world thinks it is.

“The exchange rate is the most important price in the economy” is a quote often attributed to Robert Mundell, the Canadian-born, Nobel Prize winning economist. The dollar’s price is so important because it affects everything from the inflation rate, to the propensity of Americans to vacation in Canada, to the competitiveness of Canadian exports in foreign markets.

For the past five years, our exchange rate has been one of the biggest issues in Canadian economic policy. There is probably no advanced country in the world that has experienced such wild shifts in the value of its currency as Canada has recently. Continue Reading →

‘Resourceful’ reputation must be earned – by William Watson (London Free Press – January 26, 2016)

That’s a nice line the prime minister delivered at Davos about how we want the world to know us for our resourcefulness, not just our resources. Nice. Not necessarily wise.

“Resourceful” says, literally, “full of resources.” We still are full of resources. They’re just worth a lot less than they were not long ago. If your resources lose value, then, sure, something other than resources is a useful second best. But when your resources are going for a high price, selling them is not actually cheating.

And, by the way, our resources don’t just show up at the border already packaged for export. We have to be very resourceful to get them there. In fact, a great first resourcefulness test for a new federal government focused on that quality would be to figure out how to get land-locked Alberta energy across pirate provinces hostile to it, and thence to world markets. Continue Reading →

Like it or not, Canada’s edge is resources – by Gordon Gibson (Globe and Mail – February 1, 2016)

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. With all of the doom and gloom it is time for some big ideas in this country. But do we still have purpose and determination? Every big idea in the past decade has been nibbled to death by ducks. Nothing is firing on all cylinders except selling our real estate to foreigners.

We remain a resource-based country. Yes, I know – we have to convert that into a sustainable economy of ideas. But we haven’t done that. You remember the Alberta bumper sticker after the last crash? “Please God, let there be another oil boom. We promise not to piss it all away next time.” Well, She did, and they did.

Collectively we’ve bought comforts instead of investments in the future. We maybe have another shot at doing it right. Or, we can continue to dwindle away as a much nicer and poorer United States. Continue Reading →

An environmental review process is an organized procrastination – by Rex Murphy (National Post – January 30, 2016)

During the environmental review process for the Keystone XL pipeline, the Earth made eight full revolutions around the sun, U.S. President Barack Obama turned grey and the grand hotels of Poznari, Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Dohai, Warsaw, Lima and Paris offered shelter and sustenance to the jet-setting nomads of the church of climate change.

Keystone was given eight full years of protests, hearings, lawsuits, editorials, seminars, submissions, arguments and grandstanding — all to get to a big, fat “no” from Obama.

Yet Obama’s ultimate answer was preordained. During much of those eight years, it seemed like Congress, the U.S. State Department or various unions might give Keystone a splinter of brittle hope. But the environmentalist lobby — the Sierra Club, David Suzuki, Greenpeace and the green factions of every city and town — crowded the halls of Washington or Ottawa. Continue Reading →

[Alberta separation] Hey Canada, a little help, please? – by Jen Gerson (National Post – January 29, 2016)

Every few months, I seem to get a weird collection of emails. They always come in clusters. They are usually anonymous and eerily concise. Alberta should separate, they read. The province should join the U.S. I can always trace the root — someone, somewhere has posted the Q&A-style interview I conducted last year with Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical analyst who argued that a secession crisis in Alberta was inevitable.

There are two things to keep in mind about this interview. The first is that many of these shadowy responses seem to infer my own support for Alberta separatism from this piece. That’s wrong. The second, is that Zeihan and I chatted when oil prices were high and pipeline capacity was hard to come by. A little has changed since then.

But not everything. Oil prices are down, yes, but not opposition to pipelines. The nation has dumped the hardline pro-pipeline rhetoric of Stephen Harper and even Alberta has adopted a sunnier stance since the election of Rachel Notley. This province has made considerable overtures to the rest of Canada, and specifically to its concerns about the environmental effects of the oil sands. Continue Reading →

Trudeau turns the pipeline game into all snakes, no ladders – by Peter Foster (National Post – January 29, 2016)

Justin Trudeau has taken a dysfunctional pipeline regulatory system and made it not merely worse, but a potentially impregnable barrier.

In “interim” changes to the system overseen by the National Energy Board, the Liberals announced on Wednesday that they would insert a ministerial representative into the Trans Mountain review as part of “deeper consultations with Indigenous peoples” (whose “traditional knowledge” would be incorporated); appoint three additional members to the NEB for the review of Energy East; extend the review process for both proposed pipelines; further open a consultation process whose fundamental problem is that its openness has been used as a weapon; and add estimates of the upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to the pipelines, thus putting another club in the hands of diehard opponents.

Earlier this week, Trudeau, attempting to sound like Solomon, but also taking another gratuitous shot at his predecessor, Stephen Harper, claimed that he would not be a “cheerleader” for pipelines. But Harper was never a waver of pompoms. Continue Reading →

Ottawa adds additional steps to pipeline reviews – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – January 28, 2015)

OTTAWA — The Liberal government raised the heat Wednesday in the growing political battle over pipeline megaprojects, bringing in new hurdles that will add nine months to its review timeline for the Energy East project and four months for the Trans Mountain proposal.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced several additional steps for projects that are currently undergoing regulatory review – prompting complaints from Conservative MPs that the Liberals are failing to support the depressed oil and gas sector.

The policy changes will affect Kinder Morgan Inc.’s proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to Vancouver, TransCanada Corp.’s planned Energy East line to New Brunswick, the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas export terminal in Prince Rupert, B.C., as well as crude-by-rail terminals and other projects now being assessed under rules adopted by the former Harper government. Continue Reading →

Good news on oil – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – January 26, 2016)

As the price of oil wavers around US$30 a barrel, it’s worth contemplating the long-term history of the price of the world’s greatest source of energy — and the real economic benefits that flow from oil prices that are in line with that history.

Financial markets appear more than ready to ignore the fact that today’s oil price is in line with long-term price performance and that oil’s occasional bursts through US$100 look more like erratic deviations. The question is not why oil has fallen so precipitously to US$30, but why it ever rose to more than US$100 in the first place.

In mid-2008, the price of oil hit a record US$147 a barrel. A Wikipedia entry lists a variety of contemporary explanations for the price record, none of which stand up to scrutiny. Among the alleged reasons for oil’s explosive rise in 2008 were the arrival of peak oil, aggressive market speculation by greedy Wall Street investors, and a predicted surge in demand. Continue Reading →

Canada’s oil boomtown painfully adjusts to life after bust – by Nia Williams (Reuters Canada – January 25, 2016)

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada’s northern oil hub Fort McMurray is learning the hard way that there is no such thing as simply going back to normal after a long boom that got cut short by the collapse in crude prices.

With prices down 70 percent over 18 months, producers have deferred costly new oil sands projects and laid off tens of thousands of mainly fly-in fly-out workers, who overwhelmed the city during the 15-year oil boom, but also bankrolled much of its prosperity.

That huge shadow population, which by some estimates peaked at around 70,000 nearly matching the city’s permanent population of around 80,000, stretched its public services, inflated rents and property prices. Continue Reading →

Rich in resources and resourcefulness – by Father Raymond J. de Souza (National Post -(January 26, 2016)

I suppose the fact that the public disagreement between two of Canada’s progressive darlings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, was set amidst the glittering elites in Davos — where the rich and powerful congregate to congratulate each other about how much they are doing to make life better for those less rich and less powerful — made it bigger news than it otherwise would have been. But make no mistake: it is one of the most important stories of our time.

Trudeau compared himself favourably with his predecessor, saying that Stephen Harper saw Canada as rich in resources, while he proposed a Canada rich in resourcefulness. Nenshi didn’t care for that, and instead defended the energy industry, which he called “resources plus.”

It is an interesting question about what contributes to the wealth of nations. Yet it’s been some time now — several decades, in fact — since the raw bounty of the land was our principal source of wealth. Continue Reading →

[Canada] Mounting pipeline rage threatens a new east-west brawl – by Don Braid (National Post – January 26, 2016)

Alberta separatism, thought to be dead for decades, again pokes its head above the parapet. The Flintstone Federation is on the rise.

In letters to the editor, online comments and talk shows, many people are making the point that if no pipelines can be built because Montreal objects, or Burnaby objects, or premiers demand highwayman payoffs, what’s the point of Canada anyway — especially when Alberta’s crippled economy still sends cash down the equalization pipeline, and nobody seems to demonstrate against that one.

At the same time people say those things, of course, Alberta has a desperate need for federal stimulus money and expansion of employment insurance. Very few people will complain if the province gets them. These things aren’t always logical. Continue Reading →

Energy East: The pipeline that could tear Canada apart – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – January 25, 2016)

Leonardo DiCaprio, who not long ago mistook an Alberta chinook for “terrifying” evidence of climate change, was preaching to the Armani-shirted in Davos last week about the greed of oil companies at whose feet the destruction of the planet must squarely be laid.

“Our planet cannot be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong,” the actor told a crowd that included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who spent his week in the Swiss Alps building his own brand – and Canada’s – as a resourceful, rather than resource-full, country.

In the face of this self-congratulation and sycophancy, it takes a certain ballsiness to challenge the notions that the world is on the cusp of a fossil-fuel-free future, that Canada is suddenly a post-resource economy and that all oil extraction is inherently evil, environmentally unpardonable and economically backward. Continue Reading →

Moody’s puts big miners, oil patch on downgrade watch – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – January 23, 2016)

“Fundamental shift” in industry warrants ratings changes, agency says

Moody’s Investors Service says it’s eyeing most of the major players in Canada’s mining sector and oil patch for a credit downgrade amid a prolonged and “unprecedented” global commodities meltdown.

Barrick Gold Corp., Goldcorp Inc. and Teck Resources Ltd. are among the dozen miners and 19 oil producers in Canada that are being reviewed by the ratings agency as companies struggle with a steep decline in oil and metals prices driven by oversupply and slowing growth in China.

Moody’s notice Friday for 120 energy companies and 55 miners around the world is its single largest warning of potential corporate downgrades since the 2008 financial crisis. Continue Reading →