Displaying items by tag: Oil and gas
2012 was a year that began with Conservative Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver dismissing opponents of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines as "radicals" and ends with the Idle No More rallies sweeping the nation. It was a year when two very different visions for the future of Canada and its place in the world collided headlong with each other. One seeking to curb the Tar Sands and new arteries essential to its growth, the other striving to make Canada into a new Saudi Arabia - provider of oil, gas and coal to emerging Asian markets. Each policy piece from the Harper Government was part of a bigger puzzle, designed to bring this new vision to fruition.
Read this story from the Vancouver Sun on the BC Liberal Government's decision to make permanent the moratorium on coal bed methane extraction in the Sacred Headwaters region of northwest BC. (Dec. 18, 2012)
Following years of controversy about natural gas development in the Klappan region of northwest British Columbia, the government announced Tuesday that the area is permanently off limits to gas development.
The Klappan, described as 'Sacred Headwaters' by aboriginal governments and environmental groups because it's a source area for three major northern B.C. rivers, had been under a gas exploration moratorium for four years following strong objections from the Tahltan Central Council.
The Klappan is a coal-rich geological region and Shell Canada had been exploring opportunities to develop coal bed methane there until halted, first by Tahltan blockades and then by an exploration moratorium.
Coal bed methane extraction involves removal of large volumes of briny and potentially toxic water from underground coal deposits before the gas can flow, and opponents - including municipalities in the region - were concerned that the discarded waste water would eventually contaminate salmon-bearing streams including the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers, as well as drinking water supplies.
"Today, the government of British Columbia joined the Tahltan Central Council and Shell Canada to announce an agreement has been reached to resolve the status of natural-gas tenure in the Klappan area of northwest B.C.," a government news release said.
"As part of a tripartite agreement, Shell Canada is immediately withdrawing plans to explore for natural gas in the Klappan by relinquishing its tenures. In addition, the Province of British Columbia will not issue future petroleum and natural-gas tenure in the area.
Read this story from the Vancouver Sun on BC Premier Christy Clark's bold, if utterly delusional, vision for growing BC's natural gas industry.
Premier Christy Clark says her government's plan to export liquefied natural gas to Asia is British Columbia's economic equivalent to Alberta's oilsands.
In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, Clark said B.C.'s LNG development ambitions will transform the economy, but the province must act quickly before the opportunity evaporates like gas into the atmosphere.
Clark, who has spent the last year describing her "bold" and "audacious" plan to turn B.C. into Canada's job-creation engine, said British Columbians will still be cashing in on the benefits of LNG exports 50 years from now.
"Think about it in these terms: what oil has been to Alberta since the 1970s-80s is what LNG is going to be for British Columbia, nothing less than that," said Clark.
"Energy output from LNG will likely be as big as the total energy output today from the oilsands," she said.
Experts in the LNG industry do not completely agree with Clark's Alberta oilsands comparison, but are on board in describing the opportunity as monumental and one that should be fast tracked.
"This is huge," said Ron Loberec, Deloitte's Canadian resources spokesman. "It's a no-brainer. Australia is going to make tens of billions of dollars out of these gas contracts. You've got to say yes to something."
Loberec, who is based in Calgary, said Clark's statement about LNG in B.C. rivalling oilsands in Alberta is "arguing quantum, but I think it's a significant opportunity."
Recent Alberta government statistics indicate royalties from the oilsands were $3.7 billion in 2010-2011.
The Canadian Energy Research Institute reported Alberta can expect $350 billion in royalties and $122 billion in provincial and municipal tax revenue from the oilsands over the next 25 years.
About 151,000 Albertans were directly employed in the oil and gas extraction and mining sectors in 2011, about one of every 14 jobs in the province.
International LNG development expert Zoher Meratla, whose Whistler company, CDS Research Ltd., has been in the LNG industry for 35 years, said Clark is not off base when she puts B.C.'s LNG opportunities on the same scale as Alberta's oilsands.
"Economically, it's similar to the oilsands," said Meratla, who has worked on LNG projects in Australia, Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Norway. "It's exactly in the same league, and we have the advantage that we don't carry the environmental burden."
Clark's jobs plan, introduced in September 2011, said global trade in LNG - natural gas that is cooled to the point where it can be loaded onto tankers - doubled over the last decade and is expected to increase by another 50 per cent by 2020.
She said her government is committed to working with the gas industry to build a pipeline from the province's northeast natural gas fields to an LNG terminal in northwest B.C. near Kitimat, where the product will be shipped to Asia.
Currently, natural gas prices in North America are at historic lows and Asian prices are more than three times higher than those in B.C.
Clark said the Liberals have their sights set on opening three LNG operations in B.C. by 2020, with the first up and running by 2015.
In October 2011, the National Energy Board granted Kitimat LNG a 20-year export licence to serve international markets. Kitimat LNG partners include Apache Corp., EOG Resources Inc., and Encana Corp. Kiti-mat's Haisla Nation is also involved in the project, which includes the terminal site on their traditional lands.
Clark's Liberals say the completed LNG plants will create up to 1,000 direct jobs and up to 9,000 jobs during the eight-year construction phase.
She said the projects are set to generate $20 billion in direct investment and the LNG revenues could contribute up to $2 billion annually in provincial revenues.
The historically low current natural gas prices, well below $3 per gigajoule, have been blamed for a projected $1.1-billion decline in projected government revenues over the next three years.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong's recent second quarterly budget update saw him forecast a $1.5-billion deficit, up from his September forecast of a deficit of $1.1 billion. But de Jong says government belt-tightening will see him table a balanced budget in February.
Low commodity prices, especially natural gas and coal, are shortchanging the province's projected revenues.
Natural gas was originally budgeted at $2.52 a gigajoule, but now is pegged at $1.42 in the second quarterly update, which also states a 50-cent change - increase or decline - in the natural gas price can impact the budget bottom line anywhere between $72 million and $110 million to the positive or negative.
In 2005, the price of natural gas in B.C. peaked at $7.58 a gigajoule.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Clark+likens+potential+Alberta+oilsands/7698187/story.html#ixzz2F3qUjtD1
Watch this presentation by Damien Gillis, co-director of Fractured Land - a documentary in production which examines the industrialization of northern Canada through the eyes of a young indigenous man named Caleb Behn - at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
The relatively new technique of “hydraulic fracturing”, a process of drilling horizontally in shale beds and then breaking the rock by injecting a concoction of water, sand and toxic chemicals under extreme pressure, is releasing huge quantities of oil and natural gas. In addition to polluting a subterranean frontier, the global result is a total reconfiguration of the energy equation. The economic effects are the most obvious. Natural gas is flooding the energy markets in North America and Europe, and is likely to do so elsewhere. Fracking is releasing massive amounts of natural gas in the US, reducing the price below production costs and undermining the market value of Canadian exports of gas.
Canadians are seeing red this week after a series of announcements reinforce concerns about the loss of Canadian resources and sovereignty. The focus has been the Alberta Tar Sands, but natural gas plays are also in the mix. Four days after Stephen Harper boldly stated that the CNOOC/Nexen and Petronas/Progress takeovers marked the "end of a trend and not the beginning of one," one of Canada's largest oil and gas companies announced a joint venture in a 4-plus billion dollar gas play in which PetroChina will have a 49.9 percent stake.
Read this op-ed by the BC NDP's Energy Critic John Horgan and Environment Critic Rob Flemming, promising a tougher stance on natural gas fracking and related water issues. (Dec 13, 2012)
British Columbia needs to have a strong environmental lens guiding the development of our energy resources. As we transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy, we must recognize the need for the responsible development of existing energy sources.
While British Columbia has a well-established natural gas industry and an existing network of natural gas pipelines, we must approach further expansion with care.
New Democrats have met with First Nations, local governments, and residents throughout northeast B.C. While there are questions and concerns about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, there is also much agreement that extraction and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects can be done with greater consideration for environmental protection.
That's why Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats have put forward a plan that we believe will ensure long-term sustainability and environmental stewardship, greater public accountability, and best practices in the industry, particularly when it comes to fracking.
The first point of our plan would be to appoint an expert panel to conduct a broad public review of fracking, including public hearings and consultations with First Nations, local communities, industry, environmental groups, and citizens. The panel will ensure British Columbians get B.C.-specific information they can trust.
Second, we would make immediate changes to protect B.C.’s water resources, including consolidating authority for water licensing within one public body; improving water mapping, monitoring and public reporting; and reviewing current water pricing practices.
Many British Columbians are raising valid questions and concerns about water use and the impacts of fracking. Our call for a review of water management stands in stark contrast to the B.C. Liberal government, which has largely failed to put the necessary protections in place.
The B.C. Liberal government has dragged its feet on introducing the Water Sustainability Act which promised to “respond to current and future pressures on water, and position B.C. as a leader in water stewardship.” While draft legislation was promised years ago, it likely won't see the light of day before the end of the Liberals' term in office.
A number of B.C. First Nations are in favour of supporting LNG development under the right circumstances. For example, while the Fort Nelson First Nation has criticized the Liberal government for “irresponsible, unsustainable water use” in the shale gas industry, they acknowledge the economic benefits of the natural gas industry and believe “that shale gas development can occur without full-scale damage to our rivers, lakes, and streams”.
Our plan would also include extending funding for the Farmers’ Advocate office to ensure landowners in the natural gas fields have the credible, independent support they need to deal with the gas industry.
And finally, we must find ways to align expansion in gas development and greenhouse gas emissions with the targets set out in the province’s Climate Action Plan. The Liberals have largely failed to take responsibility on this front, opting instead to change the definition of what constitutes "clean" energy rather than tackle the tough issues.
New Democrats can support LNG exports while opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline because LNG is a much safer alternative to oil. While any incident would be a major concern, the safety record of gas pipelines, LNG terminals, and LNG tankers shows there have been very few leaks. And unlike raw bitumen, which would cause a devastating environmental catastrophe in the case of a major spill off B.C.'s north coast, liquefied natural gas would evaporate and dissipate.
A New Democrat government would approach the development of safer, cleaner energy sources in an environmentally-responsible way. By subjecting each project to a rigorous environmental assessment and having the proper protections in place, we would make certain the best interests of our province are represented. This will enhance our economic development and indigenous peoples’ self-determination, and create a sustainable environment for the future.
Read original post: http://www.straight.com/news/rob-fleming-and-john-horgan-fracking
Read this column from the Province's Mike Smyth on the increasingly rocky ride Kinder Morgan is facing with its proposed mega-expansion to the Trans Mountain Pipeline and oil tanker traffic through Vancouver. (Dec. 9, 2012)
There was a time when pipeline projects were so common and boring they wouldn’t need a public-relations campaign or saturation advertising to sell them.
But that was before climate change, the Alberta oilsands, the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the pipeline rupture that made a mess of the Kalamazoo River. It was before heightened public concern over oil tankers off the B.C. coast, and long before a company called Enbridge proposed the Northern Gateway pipeline, and unleashed B.C.’s biggest environmental battle in a generation.
The Enbridge project has become a political flashpoint in the province, with the NDP’s Adrian Dix firmly opposed to it, and Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals laying down strict conditions for supporting it. But while the politicians and pundits duke it out over Enbridge — and the company soaks the airwaves with pro-pipeline ads — another company called Kinder Morgan is quietly going about its business. It’s B.C.’s “other pipeline”: the $4-billion proposal to twin the existing TransMountain connection from Alberta to Burnaby.
Like Enbridge, the company wants to pump heavy diluted bitumen from the oilsands to the B.C. coast, where it would be loaded onto tankers for shipment to Asia. Oil-tanker traffic would swell from the current five to 25 ships per month. But unlike Enbridge, there’s been no massive ad campaign, though one might come later. For now, Kinder Morgan has opted for a series of lower-profile town hall meetings along the pipeline route.
“We’ve taken a very local approach,” says Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada. “The team working on the project is based in Vancouver, and the people meeting one-to-one in the communities are British Columbians.”
The town hall events feature fresh-faced young people staffing the information displays. A couple of friendly and casually dressed company officials — Michael Davies and Greg Toth — lead the sessions.
Not a Calgary power suit in sight.
The low-key approach seems to be working for the company, which has taken much less flak than Enbridge in the province’s pipeline wars.
But that could change. Protesters have appeared at most of Kinder Morgan’s events — “we know them by name now,” Davies jokes — though the biggest excitement before last week was a streaker flashing by in Nanaimo.
Then the tour hit Victoria, and a busload of protesters drove up and swarmed the meeting. (Yes, that would be a bus powered by fossil fuel.) The protesters took down the company’s information displays and sat on them, preventing the public from seeing them. A few of the company’s placards were torn and vandalized with markers...
...While Adrian Dix has soundly condemned the proposed Enbridge pipeline, the NDP leader has remained officially neutral on Kinder Morgan, saying the company has not officially applied for a pipeline permit yet. It’s a technical loophole Dix has seized to avoid taking a position on an increasingly controversial issue that could end up dividing his own party.
Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/business/Kinder+Morgan+pipeline+project+increasingly+rocky+ride/7669460/story.html#axzz2EfizxsUt
Read this story from Mark Hume in the Globe and Mail on the scandal that is rocking the natural gas fracking industry. A Texas-based scientist who published a report downplaying the risks of fracking has been discovered to be on the board of an energy company - a conflict he chose not to disclose to journalists at a conference in Vancouver where he unveiled his findings. (Dec. 9, 2012)
When the research team from the University of Texas at Austin took the stage at the Vancouver Convention Centre early this year, they knew they had a big audience.
Journalists from around the world were attending the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting and many of them had come to the press conference, where a new study on the environmental impacts of fracking was to be released.
Across North America, including in British Columbia where gas exploration is booming, the industry has been under intense scrutiny. One concern is that groundwater is contaminated when a chemical-laced slurry is injected deep underground, to release gas by fracturing rock formations.
Charles Groat, of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, promised big news on that front. And he didn’t disappoint, delivering a definitive statement that the widely held environmental concerns about fracking were simply unfounded.
“The bottom line [is that] we found no direct evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself – the practice of fracturing the rocks – had contaminated shale groundwater or was causing concerns,” said Dr. Groat at the February event.
That was then. Now a review panel appointed by the University of Texas has taken a hard look at Dr. Groat’s report, and has concluded his study “fell short of contemporary standards for scientific work.”
Not only was the work suspect, reported the panel, but Dr. Groat himself was in a troubling conflict of interest.
“In studies of controversial topics, such as the impact on public health and the environment potentially stemming from shale-gas hydraulic fracturing, credibility hinges upon full disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest by all participants and upon rigorous, independent reviews of findings. This study failed in both regards,” stated the panel, which released its findings Friday.
“Dr. Groat, failed to disclose his material financial relationship as a member of the board of directors of Plains Exploration and Production, a gas exploration and development company,” stated the panel, which was appointed to investigate after a non-profit group, the Public Accountability Initiative, raised questions about the independence of the research.
“When asked at the [Vancouver] press conference … about the independence of the work … [Dr. Groat] replied, ‘This study was funded entirely by University of Texas funds,’ not taking the opportunity to comment on his own financial interests,” stated the review panel.
The Globe and Mail and other major media covering that press conference reported that the University of Texas had found there was no evidence to support concerns that fracking damages groundwater.
“You were misled,” said Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative, who raised questions on Dr. Groat’s conflict. “The science isn’t there.”
Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/fissures-appear-in-scientists-assurances-about-safety-of-fracking/article6142857/