Archive | Oil and Gas Sector-Politics and Image

The Future of Big Oil? At Shell, It’s Not Oil – by Matthew Campbell, Rakteem Katakey and James Paton (Bloomberg News – July 20, 2016)

The energy giant is shifting to gas as the industry adapts to climate change.

At Australia’s Curtis Island, you can see Big Oil morphing into Big Gas. Just off the continent’s rugged northeastern coast lies a 667-acre liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal owned by Royal Dutch Shell, an engineering feat of staggering complexity.

Gas from more than 2,500 wells travels hundreds of miles by pipeline to the island, where it’s chilled and pumped into 10-story-high tanks before being loaded onto massive ships.

“We’re more a gas company than an oil company,” says Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive officer. “If you have to place bets, which we have to, I’d rather place them there.” Continue Reading →

Expedited reviews are the solution to costly pipeline obstructionism – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – July 20, 2016)

A new report by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute says every effort should be made to expedite pipeline project reviews because continuing delays are costing Canada’s economy and governments billions a year.

It’s what the former Conservative government and the current U.S. government did to rescue energy projects from regulatory and legal jams orchestrated by a growing cadre of opponents.

It would require Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to back up on hurdles just put in place, such as more consultations on the two major proposed pipelines still in play – the TransMountain expansion and Energy East – aimed at restoring trust in regulators. Continue Reading →

Alberta’s ‘lost generation’: Longest post-war recession leads to brain drain among – by Claudia Cattaneo and Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – July 19, 2016)

Alberta’s longest post-war recession has sliced 6.5 per cent from its GDP over the past two years and kicked off an exodus of people, but it has been especially painful for the province’s geoscience community, the backbone of the oil and gas industry.

The recession has pushed up the provincial unemployment rate to 7.9 per cent, but for geologists and geophysicists, the jobless rate is closer to 50 per cent, and industry leaders say prospects are dim for the next two or three years.

“We are looking at another lost generation of geoscientists,” said Marian Hanna, president of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG), who has been unemployed for a year. Continue Reading →

How Alberta’s new oilsands adviser dreamed up the ‘Great Bear Rainforest’ to rein in our resources – by Peter Foster (Financial Post – July 15, 2016)

Justin Trudeau keeps saying that B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest is “no place for a pipeline.” This assertion has no more rational basis than “Four legs good, two legs bad,” or “Because it’s 2015.” It does, however, reflect the extraordinary success of the radical environmental movement in controlling, or stopping, economic development by rebranding — or claiming guardianship over — great swathes of Canada, and infiltrating the political system.

Trudeau’s chief adviser is Gerald Butts, former head of WWF Canada. Go to WWF Canada’s website and you will find the claim that the Great Bear is, guess what, “no place for an oil pipeline.”

Radical greens scored another, and closely related, victory this week with the appointment of Tzeporah Berman, co-founder of ForestEthics (now known as STAND) and former co-director of Greenpeace’s global climate and energy program, as co-chair of the panel appointed by the Alberta NDP government to look at how its cap on greenhouse gas emissions will work. Continue Reading →

Northern Gateway ruling puts future pipeline consultations to the test – by Jeffrey Jones (Globe and Mail – July 13, 2016)

CALGARY — Ottawa’s haste to get an oil pipeline to the Pacific built ended up being a project’s undoing. The federal Court of Appeal’s quashing of the Northern Gateway pipeline’s approval exposed the slipshod approach the former Conservative government took with rules of consultation with First Nations.

Now, for the Liberals and the energy sector, there are lingering risks for future pipelines and other resource projects that go beyond what the court used to strike down the Northern Gateway decision.

They boil down to a fundamental question – what must consultation achieve? Yes, aboriginal groups have rights to be informed and accommodated, but it remains to be seen how much power an opponent who refuses to be swayed ultimately has over a project’s go or no-go ruling. Continue Reading →

A decade of bitumen battles: How 10 years of fighting over oilsands affects energy, environment debate today – by Jason Fekete and Chris Varcoe (Financial Post – July 9, 2016)

Ottawa/Calgary – OTTAWA – Standing two storeys tall, the 180-tonne yellow dump truck parked on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., commanded attention all around Capitol Hill.

With tires four metres high, the Caterpillar 777F hauler — similar to the monster machines used in the oilsands — was the main attraction for Alberta’s exhibit at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in July 2006. The behemoth machine symbolized the province’s growing energy bounty: a secure supplier of crude to the United States, boasting some of the planet’s largest oil reserves.

But in a global game of Show and Tell, the move would also backfire. During that two-week stretch, the truck unexpectedly became a powerful symbol and prime target for a U.S. environmental movement searching for a focal point for its next campaign. Continue Reading →

Trudeau’s Northern Gateway snub a page torn from President Obama’s playbook – by (Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – July 8, 2016)

In Montreal this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the impression he’s not going to take a new look at the now permit-less Northern Gateway pipeline, likely putting the project on the backburner for as long as he’s in power.

It’s what the Federal Court of Appeal asked his cabinet to do in last week’s 153-page decision as a way to remedy “inadequate” consultation by the Crown with impacted aboriginal communities.

Meanwhile, the court took the draconian step of quashing the project’s permits, granted by the previous Conservative government after years of regulatory hearings, planning, consultations, and more than half a billion in spending by proponent Enbridge Inc. and its partners. Continue Reading →

Dirty or clean, politics drive cross-border energy deals – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – July 4, 2016)

The U.S. President who infamously opposed one form of cross-border energy infrastructure is putting his weight behind another. But will Barack Obama’s support for more cross-border electricity transmission links rescue provincially owned utilities from the deep holes they’ve dug by spending billions on new hydro projects amid a flooded North American power market?

The goal set at last week’s North American Leaders’ Summit to increase the share of clean energy in the continent’s electricity mix to 50 per cent by 2025, from 37 per cent now, could largely depend on the fate of a several proposals to build new transmission lines to transport Canadian hydropower south.

Yet each of those proposals faces steep opposition from U.S. environmental groups and electricity distributors, which argue that Canadian hydropower is neither clean nor renewable, while its cost far exceeds that of greener homegrown alternatives. Continue Reading →

[Canada resources] A SEISMIC SHIFT – by David Parkinson (Globe and Mail – July 2, 2016)

Canada’s entire history has been intertwined with its natural resources. But in our nation’s 150th year, our status as a resource economy may be at a crossroads as it grapples with a downturn in the energy sector. We’ve had cyclical ups and downs before, but might this time be different? And if so, are we ready for the challenges ahead?

Before there was a Canada, there were the resources.

The Europeans arrived in this harsh, untamed land more or less by mistake, looking for a shortcut to the Far East; but the abundance of natural wealth lured them back. The fish and furs and trees, the ores within the earth, the vast expanses of rich soil – the natural resources were the reason people came here, stayed, formed the communities and towns and cities that eventually banded into a country.

“The present Dominion emerged not in spite of geography but because of it,” wrote economic historian Harold Innis in 1930 in The Fur Trade in Canada, perhaps the most influential examination of Canada’s economic development ever written. Continue Reading →

Fort McKay Chief Jim Boucher explores building the first aboriginal oilsands project: ‘Timing is right’ – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – June 27, 2016)

Under the guidance of Chief Jim Boucher over the last three decades, Alberta’s Fort McKay First Nation grew into an oilsands services powerhouse and one of Canada’s most enterprising aboriginal communities. The 800-member band located 65 kilometres north of Fort McMurray has zero unemployment, average household income of $120,000 a year, a $50 million trust fund and owns companies that generated $2.36 billion in revenue in the last five years.

Now it’s dusting off plans to develop its own oilsands project to take advantage of low construction costs in the region, the result of collapsing investment due to the oil-price downturn.

It’s far from a sure thing, as the Fort McKay could still decide to keep the 2.5 billion barrels of oil under their lands undeveloped until technologies evolve to minimize environmental impacts, but the option is being explored, Boucher said in an interview in Calgary. Continue Reading →

First Nations deeply involved in resource development: Indian Resource Council – by Bob Weber (Global News – JUne 21, 2016)

The Canadian Press – Canada’s First Nations have a stake worth hundreds of millions of dollars in resource industry development and are likely to call more of the industry’s shots in the future, concludes a research paper.

“There is not going to be a very substantial expansion of the resource sector in Canada without full partnerships with indigenous Canadians,” said Ken Coates of the University of Saskatchewan.

Coates wrote the report for the Indian Resource Council, an aboriginal group that represents First Nations oil and gas producers. Coates notes that aboriginal opinion on new energy, pipeline and mineral projects reflects the same splits in the rest of Canada.  Continue Reading →

Ottawa to launch full review of environmental assessment process – by shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – June 21, 2016)

The Liberal government is undertaking a wholesale review of the environmental rules for approving major resource projects, though the current reviews of controversial pipeline proposals will proceed under the existing regime.

The federal announcement came as the City of Vancouver launched a court challenge against the National Energy Board’s review of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s proposed $6.7-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to nearby Burnaby, B.C.

In a statement, Mayor Gregor Robertson called the NEB review “flawed and biased,” as city lawyers argued the regulatory panel failed to adequately consult communities along the pipeline’s path and ignored scientific evidence. Continue Reading →

Justin Trudeau’s pipelines predicament: ‘Decisions always about trade-offs’ – by Peter O’Neil (Vancouver Sun – June 16, 2016)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged Thursday he won’t be able to please all Canadians on the oilsands pipeline issue that has pitted Alberta’s desperate need for an economic boost against intense concerns in B.C. and Quebec.

Trudeau, in an exclusive interview, also refused to say whether his 2015 election commitments would give vetoes to local communities and First Nations who vehemently oppose oilsands pipelines in their midst.

His comments coincided with the release of a new poll showing big differences in regional views towards the idea of transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of diluted bitumen to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Continue Reading →

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall renews attacks on possibility of federal carbon tax, defends Energy East – by Sean Craig (Financial Post – June 15, 2016)

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall renewed his attacks on the idea of a federal carbon tax Tuesday, suggesting that attempts to put a price on carbon could face legal obstacles.

“If the federal government wanted to come with some sort of unilateral carbon tax plan, we think they’re constitutionally restricted from taxing other governments,” he said following a speech on the Energy East pipeline Tuesday afternoon at the Empire Club in downtown Toronto. “In our province that would mean SaskPower and SaskEnergy.”

Wall’s comments come following reports that federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is considering a national carbon tax. Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said part of his government’s energy policy objective is to ensure there is a minimum carbon price across the country. Continue Reading →

Oil CEOs meet to plot new strategy as fissures within industry grow – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Times – June 10, 2016)

At a private meeting at the Calgary Petroleum Club last Friday, 150 or so oil and gas CEOs and other business leaders met to discuss the future of Canadian energy. Most of the companies represented were small players. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the large industry association that is seen as being dominated by the largest companies, was not invited.

The general discussion was about frustration that Canadians are being played for fools by their own governments about the real potential and cost of renewable energy, leading to rushed decisions to transition away from hydrocarbons and meet greenhouse gas reduction targets, without a fulsome and honest assessment of the consequences.

“Why are we only looking at the impacts of oil and gas, compared to the benefits of renewables?” asked Michael Binnion, the president and CEO of Calgary-based Questerre Energy Corp., who convened the meeting. Continue Reading →