Category Archives: Uncategorized
Oil firms resume rail shipments as crude oil pipelines fill up again
Jesse Snyder | February 13, 2017 4:08 PM ET
CALGARY — A looming pipeline shortage could force more barrels of Canadian oil onto rail cars over the next few years, as oilsands companies look for alternative shipping options amid a gradual rise in production.
The oil industry’s pipeline woes have eased in recent months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved two major pipeline proposals, and after U.S. President Donald Trump invited TransCanada Corp. to resubmit the Keystone XL pipeline permit.
However, the earliest date of completion for any new pipeline project is around the end of 2019 — if there are no delays. With oilsands production expected to rise over the next five years, and with Canada’s pipeline system near capacity, oil firms are tapping crude-by rail once again.
“The reality is, without additional physical steel being put in the ground there will come a point where that pipeline system will be overtaken,” said Kevin Birn, an analyst with IHS Cera in Calgary.
Volumes of crude moving by rail are already on the rise. Canadian crude oil exports by rail surpassed 120,000 bpd in November 2016, the highest in 13 months.
Recent volumes are nearing their peak of 172,000 bpd in March 2014, when several deadly accidents involving crude-laden trains turned oil-by-rail transportation into a contentious topic, according to the National Energy Board.
The prominence of oil-by-rail transportation came as oil prices were riding high, causing pipelines to reach their capacity. Producers began expanding their rail capabilities at great expense, but oil production tapered off after oil prices crashed in late-2014. Pipeline operators also began finding ways to more efficiently move liquids through their systems, which further dampened demand for rail shipments.
Today, rising oilsands output is setting the scene for a modest oil-by-rail resurgence.
GMP FirstEnergy analyst Martin King wrote in a recent research note that higher oilsands production was raising the “potential for (rail) activity to return to previous highs set in 2014.”
That is partly because analysts expect that much of the efficiencies wrung out of the Canadian pipeline system in recent years have reached their maximum.
Midstream companies like TransCanada and Enbridge Inc. have begun moving higher volumes of liquids by replacing older pumps along their pipelines; blending various types of crude together to better utilize space; or adding chemicals and lubricants that allow for better flow.
“Midstream companies’ ability to optimize that system has been very good in recent years, but it’s going to get increasingly tight,” Birn said.
The looming pipeline crunch caused several oilsands companies to buy into rail capacity as a way to diversify their customer base.
Oilsands operator Cenovus Energy Inc. moved an average 15,000 barrels per day by rail in the third quarter of 2016, up from 6,600 barrels in the third quarter of 2015.
“It does allow us to move barrels to refiners that otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive them,” said Cenovus spokesperson Reg Curren.
The company owns roughly 100,000 bpd in rail capacity, including the roughly 70,000 bpd rail terminal in Bruderheim, Alta., that it purchased from Canexus Corp. in 2015.
Imperial Oil Ltd., another oilsands operator, and its joint-venture partner Kinder Morgan, own roughly 210,000 barrels per day of rail capacity out of a terminal based in Edmonton, Alta. The companies did not divulge recent shipping volumes.
With oilsands production set to rise between 600,000 bpd and 800,000 bpd in the next five years, according to some estimates, producers have begun to show more interest in rail options.
Canadian oil production averaged 3.7 million bpd in 2015, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. But that number could reach as high as 5.2 million bpd by 2021, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.
“People have been calling us, hedging their bets,” said John Zahary, the CEO of Altex Energy Ltd., an oil-by-rail logistics firm.
The company today moves around 20,000 bpd of crude through its three main rail offloading facilities. That is lower than the 30,000 bpd it moved when oil-by-rail shipments were at their peak, but Zahary says current volumes could rise as more supply comes on stream.
However most analysts don’t see foresee a similar boom in rail shipments as the rapid build out of rail terminals in 2013-2014 led to an oversupply of capacity.
That undersupply, coupled with low pipeline availability, sent costs skyrocketing for Canadian producers.
“We don’t expect to see the blowouts we’ve seen in the past because of all the infrastructure we’ve seen built out in recent years,” Birn said.
Industry estimates that, on average, rail shipments can cost between $15 and $18 per barrel, compared to $7 to $10 per barrel to ship via pipeline.
Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data
- The Mail on Sunday can reveal a landmark paper exaggerated global warming
- It was rushed through and timed to influence the Paris agreement on climate change
- America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke its own rules
- The report claimed the pause in global warming never existed, but it was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data
By David Rose for The Mail on Sunday
PUBLISHED: 22:57 GMT, 4 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:12 GMT, 5 February 2017FR
[Follow-up to this story HERE]
Data Science,Climate and satellites Consultant John J Bates, who blew the whistle to the Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.
A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.
The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.
But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.
It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.
His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.
His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump’s determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor’s ‘green’ policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the world climate change conference
The PM, the Prince and ‘the pause’: David Cameron and Prince Charles attended the historic 2015 Paris climate change conference with 150 world leaders. Cameron committed Britain to an EU-Wide emission cut as a result. And Charles, writing in this paper last month, stated there was no pause in global warming, influenced by the flawed NOAA paper that made this claim
In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.
Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.
A blatant attempt to intensify paper’s impact
Official delegations from America, Britain and the EU were strongly influenced by the flawed NOAA study as they hammered out the Paris Agreement – and committed advanced nations to sweeping reductions in their use of fossil fuel and to spending £80 billion every year on new, climate-related aid projects.
The scandal has disturbing echoes of the ‘Climategate’ affair which broke shortly before the UN climate summit in 2009, when the leak of thousands of emails between climate scientists suggested they had manipulated and hidden data. Some were British experts at the influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
LED TO THESE GREEN COMMITMENTS
Data published by NOAA, the world’s top climate data agency, claimed global warming was worse than previously thought. The information was published to coincide with the Paris climate change conference in 2015, where world leaders agreed that…
$100bn be given every year in extra ‘climate-related’ aid to the developing world by rich nations
2 degrees C be set as the limit for maximum temperature rise above pre-industrial times
40% of CO2 emissions would be cut across the EU by 2030
£320bn… what the UK’s pledges will cost our economy by 2030
NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.
Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.
The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.
The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified.
A final, approved version has still not been issued. None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.
Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards ‘to produce and preserve climate data records’.
Yet when it came to the paper timed to influence the Paris conference, Dr Bates said, these standards were flagrantly ignored.
The paper was published in June 2015 by the journal Science. Entitled ‘Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus’, the document said the widely reported ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ was a myth.
Less than two years earlier, a blockbuster report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drew on the work of hundreds of scientists around the world, had found ‘a much smaller increasing trend over the past 15 years 1998-2012 than over the past 30 to 60 years’. Explaining the pause became a key issue for climate science. It was seized on by global warming sceptics, because the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had continued to rise.
WHY OBAMA’S GREEN GURU WILL MAKE TRUMP SEE RED
NOAA’s climate boss Thomas Karl, below left, had a hotline to the White House, through his long association with President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren.
Karl’s ‘Pausebuster’ paper was hugely influential in dictating the world agreement in Paris and sweeping US emissions cuts. President Trump, above right, has pledged to scrap both policies – triggering furious claims by Democrats he is a climate ‘denier’ and ‘anti-science’.
Thanks to today’s MoS story, NOAA is set to face an inquiry by the Republican-led House science committee.
Some scientists argued that the existence of the pause meant the world’s climate is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought, so that future warming would be slower. One of them, Professor Judith Curry, then head of climate science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said it suggested that computer models used to project future warming were ‘running too hot’.
However, the Pausebuster paper said while the rate of global warming from 1950 to 1999 was 0.113C per decade, the rate from 2000 to 2014 was actually higher, at 0.116C per decade. The IPCC’s claim about the pause, it concluded, ‘was no longer valid’.
The impact was huge and lasting. On publication day, the BBC said the pause in global warming was ‘an illusion caused by inaccurate data’.
One American magazine described the paper as a ‘science bomb’ dropped on sceptics.
Its impact could be seen in this newspaper last month when, writing to launch his Ladybird book about climate change, Prince Charles stated baldly: ‘There isn’t a pause… it is hard to reject the facts on the basis of the evidence.’
Data changed to make the sea appear warmer
The sea dataset used by Thomas Karl and his colleagues – known as Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures version 4, or ERSSTv4, tripled the warming trend over the sea during the years 2000 to 2014 from just 0.036C per decade – as stated in version 3 – to 0.099C per decade. Individual measurements in some parts of the globe had increased by about 0.1C and this resulted in the dramatic increase of the overall global trend published by the Pausebuster paper. But Dr Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source – water taken in by ships. This, Dr Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden – so affecting temperature readings.
Dr Bates said: ‘They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and “corrected” it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.’
ERSSTv4 ‘adjusted’ buoy readings up by 0.12C. It also ignored data from satellites that measure the temperature of the lower atmosphere, which are also considered reliable. Dr Bates said he gave the paper’s co-authors ‘a hard time’ about this, ‘and they never really justified what they were doing.’
Now, some of those same authors have produced the pending, revised new version of the sea dataset – ERSSTv5. A draft of a document that explains the methods used to generate version 5, and which has been seen by this newspaper, indicates the new version will reverse the flaws in version 4, changing the buoy adjustments and including some satellite data and measurements from a special high-tech floating buoy network known as Argo. As a result, it is certain to show reductions in both absolute temperatures and recent global warming.
The second dataset used by the Pausebuster paper was a new version of NOAA’s land records, known as the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN), an analysis over time of temperature readings from about 4,000 weather stations spread across the globe.
The unstable land readings: Scientists at NOAA used land temperature data from 4,000 weather stations (pictured, one in Montana, USA). But the software used to process the figures was bug-ridden and unstable. NOAA also used ‘unverified’ data that was not tested or approved. This data as merged with unreliable sea surface temperatures
The ‘adjusted’ sea readings: Average sea surface temperatures are calculated using data from weather buoys (pictured). But NOAA ‘adjusted’ these figures upwards to fit with data taken from ships – which is notoriously unreliable. This exaggerated the warming rate, allowing NOAA to claim in the paper dubbed the ‘Pausebuster’ that there was no ‘pause’
This new version found past temperatures had been cooler than previously thought, and recent ones higher – so that the warming trend looked steeper. For the period 2000 to 2014, the paper increased the rate of warming on land from 0.15C to 0.164C per decade.
In the weeks after the Pausebuster paper was published, Dr Bates conducted a one-man investigation into this. His findings were extraordinary. Not only had Mr Karl and his colleagues failed to follow any of the formal procedures required to approve and archive their data, they had used a ‘highly experimental early run’ of a programme that tried to combine two previously separate sets of records.
This had undergone the critical process known as ‘pairwise homogeneity adjustment’, a method of spotting ‘rogue’ readings from individual weather stations by comparing them with others nearby.
However, this process requires extensive, careful checking which was only just beginning, so that the data was not ready for operational use. Now, more than two years after the Pausebuster paper was submitted to Science, the new version of GHCN is still undergoing testing.
Moreover, the GHCN software was afflicted by serious bugs. They caused it to become so ‘unstable’ that every time the raw temperature readings were run through the computer, it gave different results. The new, bug-free version of GHCN has still not been approved and issued. It is, Dr Bates said, ‘significantly different’ from that used by Mr Karl and his co-authors.
Dr Bates revealed that the failure to archive and make available fully documented data not only violated NOAA rules, but also those set down by Science. Before he retired last year, he continued to raise the issue internally. Then came the final bombshell. Dr Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’
The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means the Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.
The flawed conclusions of the Pausebuster paper were widely discussed by delegates at the Paris climate change conference. Mr Karl had a longstanding relationship with President Obama’s chief science adviser, John Holdren, giving him a hotline to the White House.
The red line shows the current NOAA world temperature graph – elevated in recent years due to the ‘adjusted’ sea data. The blue line is the Met Office’s independent HadCRUT4 record. Although they are offset in temperature by 0.12°C due to different analysis techniques, they reveal that NOAA has been adjusted and so shows a steeper recent warming trend.
They were forced to correct it: 18 months after the ‘Pausebuster’ paper was published in time for the 2015 Paris climate change conference, NOAA’s flawed sea temperature dataset is to be replaced. The new version will remedy its failings, and use data from both buoys and satellites (pictured) – which some say is the best data of all. The new version will show both lower temperatures and a lower warming trend since 2000
Mr Holdren was also a strong advocate of robust measures to curb emissions. Britain’s then Prime Minister David Cameron claimed at the conference that ‘97 per cent of scientists say climate change is urgent and man-made and must be addressed’ and called for ‘a binding legal mechanism’ to ensure the world got no more than 2C warmer than in pre-industrial times.
President Obama stressed his Clean Power Plan at the conference, which mandates American power stations to make big emissions cuts.
President Trump has since pledged he will scrap it, and to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Whatever takes its place, said Dr Bates, ‘there needs to be a fundamental change to the way NOAA deals with data so that people can check and validate scientific results. I’m hoping that this will be a wake-up call to the climate science community – a signal that we have to put in place processes to make sure this kind of crap doesn’t happen again.
‘I want to address the systemic problems. I don’t care whether modifications to the datasets make temperatures go up or down. But I want the observations to speak for themselves, and for that, there needs to be a new emphasis that ethical standards must be maintained.’
He said he decided to speak out after seeing reports in papers including the Washington Post and Forbes magazine claiming that scientists feared the Trump administration would fail to maintain and preserve NOAA’s climate records.
Dr Bates said: ‘How ironic it is that there is now this idea that Trump is going to trash climate data, when key decisions were earlier taken by someone whose responsibility it was to maintain its integrity – and failed.’
NOAA not only failed, but it effectively mounted a cover-up when challenged over its data. After the paper was published, the US House of Representatives Science Committee launched an inquiry into its Pausebuster claims. NOAA refused to comply with subpoenas demanding internal emails from the committee chairman, the Texas Republican Lamar Smith, and falsely claimed that no one had raised concerns about the paper internally.
Last night Mr Smith thanked Dr Bates ‘for courageously stepping forward to tell the truth about NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion’. He added: ‘The Karl study used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the President’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study.’
Professor Curry, now the president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, said last night: ‘Large adjustments to the raw data, and substantial changes in successive dataset versions, imply substantial uncertainties.’
It was time, she said, that politicians and policymakers took these uncertainties on board.
Last night Mr Karl admitted the data had not been archived when the paper was published. Asked why he had not waited, he said: ‘John Bates is talking about a formal process that takes a long time.’ He denied he was rushing to get the paper out in time for Paris, saying: ‘There was no discussion about Paris.’
They played fast and loose with the figures
He also admitted that the final, approved and ‘operational’ edition of the GHCN land data would be ‘different’ from that used in the paper’.
As for the ERSSTv4 sea dataset, he claimed it was other records – such as the UK Met Office’s – which were wrong, because they understated global warming and were ‘biased too low’. Jeremy Berg, Science’s editor-in-chief, said: ‘Dr Bates raises some serious concerns. After the results of any appropriate investigations… we will consider our options.’ He said that ‘could include retracting that paper’.NOAA declined to comment.
It’s not the first time we’ve exposed dodgy climate data, which is why we’ve dubbed it: Climate Gate 2
Helena Christensen addresses demonstrators in the center of Copenhagen on climate change
Dr John Bates’s disclosures about the manipulation of data behind the ‘Pausebuster’ paper is the biggest scientific scandal since ‘Climategate’ in 2009 when, as this paper reported, thousands of leaked emails revealed scientists were trying to block access to data, and using a ‘trick’ to conceal embarrassing flaws in their claims about global warming.
Both scandals suggest a lack of transparency and, according to Dr Bates, a failure to observe proper ethical standards.
Because of NOAA ’s failure to ‘archive’ data used in the paper, its results can never be verified.
Like Climategate, this scandal is likely to reverberate around the world, and reignite some of science’s most hotly contested debates.
Left, blowing up the graph show is disappears in 1961 artfully hidden behind the other colours. Right, the reason? Because this is what it shows after 1961, a dramatic decline in global temperatures
Has there been an unexpected pause in global warming? If so, is the world less sensitive to carbon dioxide than climate computer models suggest?
And does this mean that truly dangerous global warming is less imminent, and that politicians’ repeated calls for immediate ‘urgent action’ to curb emissions are exaggerated?
[Play belo video HERE]
North Dakota wants hired pipeline protesters to pay state income taxes
By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times
Monday, January 30, 2017
After spending more than $22 million on the Dakota Access pipeline protest, North Dakota wants to make sure any paid activists remember to submit their state income taxes.
Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said his office is keeping an eye out for tax forms from environmental groups that may have hired protesters to agitate against the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline project.
“It’s something we’re looking at. I can tell you I’ve had a number of conversations with legislators regarding this very issue,” said Mr. Rauschenberger. “[We’re] looking at the entities that have potential paid contractors here on their behalf doing work.”
It’s no secret that millions have been funneled into the six-month-old demonstration via crowdfunding websites, and that more than 30 environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, Food and Water Watch, 350.org and Greenpeace, have backed the protest.
If national environmental organizations are paying protest personnel, they’re not saying so publicly. Still, Mr. Rauschenberger said red flags will be raised if he doesn’t start seeing W2 or 1099 tax forms from those affiliated with the protest arriving at his office.
“It’s something we could possibly pursue if we don’t see 1099s coming in for the activity,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.
The ongoing demonstration has been costly to the state. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Democrat, issued a plea last week for federal help with unruly protesters, some still camped out on federal land, after President Trump moved to expedite the pipeline review.
North Dakota lawmakers asked repeatedly for aid from the Obama administration without success.
“After five months of protests, over 600 arrests related to those protests, and more than $22 million in North Dakota taxpayer dollars spent on law enforcement resources to keep North Dakotans safe during the protests, state and local law enforcement agencies are in dire need of federal support,” Ms. Heitkamp said in her letter.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier has criticized “paid agitators” who crossed the line from peaceful protest to lawbreaking by trespassing on private property, blocking highways and bridges and throwing rocks, feces and burning logs at law enforcement.
“If an organization is directly paying someone to come and do activities on their behalf, even protesting — if they’re receiving income and they’re here in North Dakota performing activities for an organization, they owe income tax from Day One,” Mr. Rauschenberger said. “And that entity should be issuing 1099s. Just like a contractor.”
Whether protesters would be required to report income based on crowdfunding donations falls into more of a gray area, he said.
“I think a lot of people think that, ‘Oh, if something goes through GoFundMe, it’s just always considered a gift.’ But it can also be used as a way to funnel money just like an employer paying a contractor,” Mr. Rauschenberger said. “It can be a way to funnel money as well, and very well could be taxable. I’m not saying it is. I’m saying it could be. And it’s really on a case-by-case basis.”
He said the IRS has issued a “loose guidance” on crowdfunding. In general, such income is considered exempt if it represents a gift to be repaid, a purchase of an equity interest or a gift without any expectation of repayment.
Rob Port, who runs North Dakota’s Say Anything blog, said the crowdfunding donations are often framed as payment for services provided. He has tabulated at least $11.2 million in contributions to the DAPL protest.
“If those receiving the money didn’t use it in attempting to block the pipeline, I think those giving the money would be upset. They’d feel cheated,” said Mr. Port. “That certainly seems like a quid pro quo relationship to me. That seems like one person paying another person in pursuance of a specific endeavor.”
Several hundred protesters have braved the harsh North Dakota winter in their ongoing effort to stop the $3.8 billion project over fears about its impact on water quality.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribal council has asked occupiers to leave, citing environmental damage and looming spring flooding at some camps, even though the tribe has led opposition to the pipeline.
Mr. Rauschenberger emphasized that the state isn’t looking into the tribe’s financial relationship with protesters, only off-reservation activity. In addition, contributions such as food and shelter would be considered in-kind donations and not subject to taxation.
“The paper trail for something like that would be probably nonexistent,” he said. “We’d be looking at cash, whether it was a check, cash or debit card issued for performing services as opposed to more of the in-kind. It would be too difficult from an enforcement standpoint. We’d be looking at the cash money trail.”
Any paid protesters would owe income tax in North Dakota if their total income in 2016 exceeded $10,350.
Enforcing the tax code may also come down to whether the costs exceed the benefits. There are rumors that some of the thousands of protesters who moved in and out of camps starting in August were being paid with hard-to-track debit cards, and the state tax division has a staff of 128.
“It all comes down to resources,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.
Alberta vaults over Saskatchewan in new drilling forecast; cost savings of last two years “unsustainable”
By Deborah Jaremko
Jan. 31, 2017, 7:43 a.m.
Oil and gas producers should expect to pay more for services as activity picks up, says Mark Salkheld, CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC), which released a “cautiously optimistic” update to its 2017 drilling forecast on Monday.
“The cost savings exacted from the services sector over the last two and half years are not sustainable, but that will be corrected as activity and the demand for people and equipment increases,” Salkeld said in a statement.
PSAC is now projecting that 975 more wells will be drilled in Canada in 2017, the vast majority in Alberta.
That’s a change from PSAC’s November forecast for 2017, where Saskatchewan was expected to see the most drilling activity.
The new projection of 5,150 wells includes a jump of 806 wells in Alberta, to 2,706 from 1,900.
In Saskatchewan, 1,985 wells are expected, up from 1,940; in B.C., 367 compared to 280 in the original forecast; and in Manitoba 73, up from 50.
“Some of the Canadian oilfield service, supply and manufacturing sector are realizing some uptick in activity as oil prices recover and operators increase their drilling programs,” Salkheld said.
“With luck and the favorable policies from governments in Alberta, Ottawa and Washington DC with respect to the new royalty regime and pipeline approvals, the Canadian oilfield services sector will pick itself up, dust itself off and get people and equipment back to work.”
The numbers may be up from the 2016 final forecast of 3,950, but they are still not anywhere near pre-downturn levels. PSAC forecasted 5,320 wells in the midst of the downturn in 2015, which compares to 10,930 wells in 2014 and 11,475 in 2013.
“It took us many years to recover from a similar but less impactful downturn in the early 80s and it will be the same again now,” Salkheld said.
Fukushima residents exposed to far less radiation than thought
By Katherine Kornei
Jan. 23, 2017 , 2:30 PM
Citizen science usually isn’t this personal. In 2011, roughly 65,000 Japanese citizens living near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant started measuring their own radiation exposure in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. That’s because no one, not even experts, knew how accurate the traditional method of estimating dosage—taking readings from aircraft hundreds of meters above the ground—really was. Now, in a first-of-its-kind study, scientists analyzing the thousands of citizen readings have come to a surprising conclusion: The airborne observations in this region of Japan overestimated the true radiation level by a factor of four.
“The work [these] researchers are doing is extremely important … [because] it is logistically challenging to sample and monitor every potentially exposed person,” says Kathryn Higley, a certified health physicist at the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
It’s rare to monitor individual radiation exposure after a nuclear power plant accident. In some cases, regions are simply evacuated. In others, the cost and difficulty of handing out personal sensors—called dosimeters—is just too much. The few studies that have gathered individual readings in places like Chernobyl in Ukraine have also suffered limitations. Most target only small populations, and many are conducted far from the disaster site or long after the accident. Using aircraft is often easier, cheaper, and faster.
But in Date, Japan—just 60 kilometers from the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex—local officials started a radiation-monitoring campaign within a few months of the accident. Mayor Shoji Nishida was one of the main supporters. He explained at a 2014 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency that his city was never ordered to evacuate, despite surveys revealing radiation levels similar to those in nearby towns that were evacuated. “We decided that we should not depend on the national government and that we had to take our own independent actions,” Nishida said at the meeting. He ordered Date to begin its own decontamination efforts and to monitor individual radiation exposure, allocating 1 billion yen of city funds to the project in May 2011.
Under Nishida’s mandate, pregnant women and children younger than 16 were the first to receive a dosimeter, a candy bar–sized sensor that measures gamma rays. These high-energy electromagnetic waves, emitted by radioactive elements like cesium, can damage DNA and cause cancer. After roughly 9000 dosimeters had been distributed to children and expectant mothers, Date officials expanded the monitoring project: By 2012 almost all of Date’s roughly 65,000 inhabitants had been given one. Residents returned the dosimeters every 3 months for analysis; more than 52,000 residents participated in the survey for at least one year.
Meanwhile, six airborne radiation surveys of Fukushima Prefecture were conducted by the national government. Sensors attached to helicopters measured radioactive cesium on the ground, and researchers used scaling laws to convert that data to expected doses at ground level. Because many people spend most of their time indoors, protected by radiation-absorbing buildings, government scientists further assumed that just 60% of that radiation actually reached most subjects. That estimate was based on the standard assumption that people spend 8 hours outdoors and 16 hours indoors each day.
Now, Makoto Miyazaki, a radiologist at Fukushima Medical University, and Ryugo Hayano, a University of Tokyo physicist, have taken the thousands of data points from the Date dosimeters and compared them with the ground-level estimates from the helicopter data. The scientists concluded that actual radiation doses were roughly 15% of what the helicopters were measuring, scaled to ground level, they reported last month in the Journal of Radiological Protection. That’s four times less radiation than what the Japanese government was previously assuming.
The researchers give several reasons for the large difference. Chief among them: “Residents [are] not staying outdoors for 8 hours each day,” Miyazaki says. He hopes these results will help other researchers better predict actual radiation doses—and therefore potential health effects—based on rapid airborne surveys. A better estimate of individual radiation doses might also allow displaced people to return to their homes sooner, Higley notes.
For Date residents, it’s good news that radiation levels are lower than expected. But the result comes with a less-than-silver lining: Some of the region’s expensive, time-consuming decontamination efforts—such as the removal of topsoil and tree bark—might not have been necessary.
- 22 Dec 2016
- Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- GEOFFREY MORGAN Financial Post
Climate change policies key for ‘economic growth’
Environment linked to Canada’s long-term well-being, Trudeau says
CALGARY U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s policies may make drilling and investing in the U.S. more competitive in the short term, but climate change policies are still necessary long term, given both global trends and state level legislation in the U.S., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
“We know that this is the way the world is going, and maybe there’s potential for short-term benefit by not engaging in the environment as strongly, but we also know that in the medium term and long term, economic growth and the wellbeing of our citizens is going to be linked to figuring out better ways to do things,” Trudeau told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
It was Trudeau’s first appearance in Calgary since he approved Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project and Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipelines expansion project late last month. He called those approvals “a major win for Canadian workers, Canadian families and the Canadian economy,” and said that he supported the construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S.
While the audience applauded his comments on those pipeline projects, the prime minister was challenged on whether his policies and plan for a national carbon tax would make Canada’s and Alberta’s economies less competitive relative to the U.S. given Trump’s statements on climate change.
“Regardless of what might or might not happen at the federal level in the coming years, at the state level, at the municipal level, at the business level across the United States there’s been tremendous investments, initiatives and forward movement on fighting climate change and being more responsible,” Trudeau said.
Still, attendees expressed their concerns about competitiveness following the speech.
Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Adam Legge said the federal government needs to be wary of investment flowing to the U.S. if costs are significantly lower than in Canada.
“The reality is that if the United States doesn’t move forward with a climate change agenda or some of the carbon taxations, we have to be careful with our agenda,” Legge said. “We’re not saying ‘Don’t move forward,’ but be very careful of our competitiveness.”
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers president and CEO Tim McMillan said he was encouraged that the government included competitiveness as one of its eight principles it would consider when developing a framework for a national carbon price.
“In Canada, we’re looking at a global marketplace and we don’t just need to be competitive with the U.S., we need to be competitive with Saudi Arabia and Nigeria and Venezuela and we have to do that in a way that balances environmental performance and the economy,” McMillan said.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi questioned whether the carbon levy in 2017 will make the country uncompetitive. “It’s probably not at a level where that will happen,” he said. “As this continues with the federal government’s mandate to go to a $50 per tonne price on carbon, how are we going to figure that out in a way that makes us most competitive.”
Nenshi and Legge also echoed comments by Trudeau and said Canada could attract clean tech investment and talent if the United States “takes a step back” on pollution legislation.
“We know that this is the way the world is going and if the United States wants to take a step back from them, then quite frankly I think we should look at that as an opportunity to draw in investors where jobs and opportunities are going to be 10 years from now and 20 years from now,” Trudeau said.
Mon Dec 19, 2016 | 7:53am EST
Vale agrees $2.5 billion sale of fertilizer business to Mosaic
Vale SA agreed to sell part of its fertilizer business to Mosaic Co for $2.5 billion, in a move aimed at helping the world’s largest iron ore producer cut debt and focus on core mining activities.
Vale will receive $1.25 billion in cash and $1.25 billion in newly issued shares of U.S.-based Mosaic, a roughly 11 percent stake in the firm, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said in a Monday securities filing.
After the deal closes by late 2017, Vale will have the right to pick two members of Mosaic’s board, the filing said.
On June 17, Reuters was first to report on the Mosaic’s talks with Vale to reach a deal to buy the latter’s fertilizer unit.
According to the filing, Vale will retain control of its nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer assets in the city of Cubatão, in southeast Brazil but expects to sell them in 2017. Sources with knowledge of the deal told Reuters in October that Vale was also in talks with Norway’s Yara International ASA to sell some of its fertilizer assets.
Mosaic will acquire the rest of Vale’s phosphate assets in Brazil, Vale’s stake in Peru’s Bayóvar mine and Canada’s Kronau potash project. Mosaic has yet to decide whether to include the Rio Colorado potash project in Argentina in the acquisition.
Mosaic may pay an additional $260 million depending on future earnings of the fertilizer unit, the filing said. Vale will not be allowed to sell Mosaic shares for two years.
Analysts at Banco BTG Pactual estimate Mosaic is paying 8.6 times the fertilizer division’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a gauge of operational profit.
“This is an attractive multiple for Vale”, the analysts said in a client note.
Vale shares edged up slightly in choppy early trading.
Vale, the world’s largest iron ore miner, is disposing of assets to help meet a $10 billion debt-reduction target by next year. The plan was devised by Chief Executive Murilo Ferreira to help protect the mining company against lower iron ore and nickel prices, after losing a record $12.1 billion last year.
Vale said it will use the funds raised with the sale to cut debt, while continuing its divestment program.
Preferred shares in Vale have advanced 140 percent so far this year to 24.33 reais, surpassing a 35 percent rally in Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index.
(Reporting by Bruno Federowski, Tatiana Bautzer and Roberto Samora; Editing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and W Simon)
- 13 Dec 2016
- Calgary Herald
- CLAUDIA CATTANEO
- Financial Post
With Trump’s blessing, likely KXL revival near
The Keystone pipeline, you’re going to have a decision fairly quickly … And you’ll see that.
Much like the rejection of Keystone XL by U.S. President Barack Obama was about climate change symbolism, president-elect Donald Trump is going out of his way to make the revival of the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline project symbolic of his back-to-business and energy security priorities.
He spoke about the proposed oilsands pipeline during his election campaign, right after his election and again while putting together his transition team, which could include none-other than KXL supporter Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., as his secretary of state.
In his latest plug for KXL, in an interview Sunday with Fox News, Trump suggested — unprompted — he’d move quickly on Keystone XL after taking office, after being pressed on whether his fossil fuel-friendly administration would remain in the Paris climate agreement.
“The Keystone pipeline, you’re going to have a decision fairly quickly,” Trump said. “And you’ll see that.”
Dennis McConaghy, the former TransCanada Corp. senior executive who just completed a book, Dysfunction, about the KXL saga under Obama, said it’s no surprise Trump is enthusiastic about the 800,000 barrels-a-day pipeline linking Alberta’s oilsands to refineries in the U.S. Gulf.
“This is going to be $10 billion of infrastructure investment that the federal government doesn’t have to pay for,” said McConaghy.
In his book, McConaghy writes that Obama’s KXL’s rejection was “a triumph of symbolism over substance and reasonable expectation of due process” that occurred after becoming “a highly politicized emblem for the American environmental movement.”
Calgary-based TransCanada, the proponent of KXL, is saying little publicly about a revival of KXL while the transition in Washington is underway.
The energy company had to take a $3 billion writedown following Obama’s rejection after a sevenyear review and followed up with a challenge against the U.S. government under the North American Free Trade Agreement to recoup US$15 billion in damages.
But behind the scenes, TransCanada’s legal and commercial teams are likely working overtime to assess whether KXL still has shipper support and on what terms it could go ahead, McConaghy said.
McConaghy, who retired from TransCanada in mid-2014, said the company is likely looking at what a revival could look like from a regulatory and legal perspective, while waiting to see who is appointed by Trump to oversee the project.
The company’s legal team would want to ensure a revived KXL is insulated from litigation, he said.
“Don’t underestimate, when this thing moves forward toward approval, the U.S. environmental movement will do everything it can to legally challenge that,” McConaghy said. “You can count on that.”
TransCanada would also have to resolve outstanding litigation in Nebraska. The fight against KXL started in the state, where landowners were concerned about its impact on the Ogallala aquifer.
A further hurdle is that the company would have to re-assemble the team responsible for KXL, which was likely re-assigned after its rejection, McConaghy said.
If Tillerson gets the top job at the State Department, which was responsible for KXL’s review, it would be a bonus for the pipeline.
Tillerson is said to be the frontrunner for the job, although blowback due to his ties with Russia could scuttle that.
TransCanada did not reveal which companies made commitments to ship on KXL, but in his book McConaghy said many were U.S.-controlled.
Exxon Mobil’s Canadian affiliate, Imperial Oil Ltd., is one of the top developers of oilsands leases in Alberta, which would make Tillerson very familiar with the oilsands and the KXL debacle. In 2008, Tillerson called the oilsands “a tremendous resource opportunity to meet our energy needs.” Indeed, if Tillerson gets the secretary of state appointment, Canada’s oil and gas sector would find itself with more support in Washington than in either Edmonton or Ottawa, where governments are more concerned about reducing oilsands impacts.
KXL opponents have expressed outrage that Trump might bring KXL back from the dead. But having launched other oilsands battlefronts following the KXL defeat — in the West against Kinder Morgan’s now-approved TransMountain expansion; in the East against TransCanada’s Energy East; on the coasts against oil tankers — they are the ones looking like they are under siege.
Why Canada’s resource wealth should fuel the new economy
SCOTT VAUGHAN AND ROBERT SMITH
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 5:00AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2016 6:24AM EST
Scott Vaughan is president of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Robert Smith is a Senior Associate with the Institute and Principal of Midsummer Analytics.
The federal government’s decision to approve two pipelines last week raises a number of issues, but there is one we haven’t really heard in the debate so far: How should revenues earned from resource extraction be used? For us, this is a central question and one that touches directly on Canada’s well-being.
We believe a greater portion of resource revenues needs to be re-invested in creating the new economy Canada will need going forward. There are several ways we could do this, all of them well-tested.
Canada could start by following Norway’s lead and using a portion of resource revenues to create national or provincial wealth funds. Such funds could then be used to invest in the innovative Canadian companies that will create the jobs of the future. Norway’s wealth fund is worth about $860-billion (U.S.). That money will come in handy when its North Sea resources are depleted.
If wealth funds aren’t seen as desirable, governments could use increased resource revenues to give them the fiscal room to provide incentives for companies to expand in new areas, or to fund universities to improve education and undertake new research.
One way or another, the country needs to think hard about how it manages resource revenues in the future. Pumping oil out of the ground is like taking money out of the national savings account. It’s fine so long as the account is flush. But if we don’t keep an eye on the bottom line, we might find we’re in for a surprise one day. And the reality is that governments aren’t keeping as close an eye on the bottom line as they should. We know this from new research released last week.
In one of the first reports of its type ever, the International Institute for Sustainable Development took a close look at Canada’s “comprehensive wealth.” The findings offer a sobering assessment of how well we’re managing our wealth.
Put simply, comprehensive wealth is the value of all the assets Canadians rely on to make the economy work. This includes obvious things such as factories and roads. But it also includes our natural resources and ecosystems, our skilled and educated work force and the value of the trust and co-operation that are the foundations of our economy and society. Taken together, this portfolio of assets is what allows Canadians to enjoy their high level of well-being. If the value of the portfolio is allowed to decline, well-being will inevitably follow suit. Just like spending an inheritance faster than it grows will eventually end the party.
Our findings suggest Canada is not managing its comprehensive wealth portfolio as well as it should. Looking at the data from 1980 to 2013, long enough so that the normal swings of the economy wouldn’t obscure the trends, we found that comprehensive wealth has barely grown. Real per capita comprehensive wealth grew by less than 0.2 per cent a year over the period. Human capital, the biggest component of wealth, didn’t grow at all. Natural capital declined by a startling 25 per cent. Produced capital was the bright spot, growing by about 73 per cent, though most of this was in housing and oil and gas infrastructure.
At the same time, real per capita consumption has been growing quickly. This is a circle that’s hard to square. The country can’t go on consuming at a rapidly growing rate with the other side of the ledger looking as shaky as it does. Especially when the future holds so much risk. Climate change, oil prices, new sources of fossil fuels and renewable energy, the push toward a low-carbon economy, growing protectionism. All of these are reason for long-term concern.
Canada will be best poised to take on these risks with a solid comprehensive wealth balance sheet in hand. Right now, we think the country’s account is out of balance. Investing more of our resource revenues to help build up our human, natural and produced capital would be a move in the right direction. Of course, that’s not all that needs to be done to bolster the balance sheet. But given that the government has decided to approve pipelines, now seems to us like the right time to be talking about it.