• a US$1 per barrel change in the average WTI oil price results in an estimated $20 million change in oil royalties;• a 1 U.S. cent change in the average value of the Canadian dollar results in an estimated $31 million change in non-renewable resources revenue.
- WTI oil prices are forecast to average US$94.25 per barrel in 2014-15
- Exchange rate of 91.50
- WTI is lower than forecasted at US$82.31 per barrel (not good for Saskatchewan)
- Exchange rate is lower than forecasted at 88.31 (but this is good for Saskatchewan since we sell our oil and potash in US dollars and thus realise higher revenues)
Farmland prices holding steady despite falling crop values
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Sep. 30 2014, 5:00 AM EDT
Last updated Monday, Sep. 29 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
The value of agricultural land across Canada is generally holding up despite falling crop prices, regional flooding and a long winter that kept buyers at bay, a new report shows.
However, the study from real estate company Re/Max adds that price increases for most farmland are expected to slow this year, with the exception of Alberta, southwestern Ontario and parts of the Ottawa Valley.
In Alberta, bidding wars have helped drive up the price of farmland by as much as 20 per cent year over year to around $10,000 an acre in the southern part of the province. Even unproductive scrubland rose in value as city dwellers bought rural getaways.
“Western Canadian farmers and their families continue to display resilience, surefootedness and enduring optimism,” said Elton Ash, regional vice-president at Re/Max of Western Canada. “Intense demand and short supply in Alberta has caused bidding wars like we see in Canada’s hot housing markets.”
The picture was not as bright in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where flooding and a harsh winter hurt farm profits and kept per-acre values generally flat year over year. In Saskatchewan, prices increased from between $1,500 and $2,000 an acre in 2013 to between $1,800 and $2,200 in 2014. Manitoba saw its price range go from between $1,350 and $1,600 to $1,500 and $2,000.
The report said the most typical buyer of farmland anywhere was a farm family expanding their output by buying more land. Proximity to local processing facilities was also a big factor in purchases.
In Ontario, farmland north of the Greater Toronto Area slated for redevelopment has hit $54,000 an acre, double the value of producing land in the region. The southwest tip of the province, Chatham-Kent, saw prices increase by 40 per cent from 2013 to $25,000 an acre. The rise drove some families looking to expand their farms out of the region to find more affordable land, the report said.
In Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo area, the bulk of the buyers were wealthy city folk looking to start a hobby farm. These farms ranged in size from 15 to 50 acres and typically cost just under $1-million, slightly lower year over year. Farmers in this area are also having to go further afield to find affordable land to expand their operations.
British Columbia’s blueberry-growing region, the Fraser Valley outside Vancouver, is also drawing a lot of interest from buyers. In the wake of a good blueberry crop in 2014, prices for an acre of farmland rose modestly to as high of $63,000 an acre from $60,000 in 2013.
In Nova Scotia, a number of new vineyards help send up prices 25 per cent to as much as $10,000 an acre.
SaskPower to launch carbon-capture plant
REGINA — The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, Sep. 28 2014, 5:22 PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Sep. 28 2014, 5:28 PM EDT
Saskatchewan’s government-owned power utility is set to launch its flagship carbon-capture-and-storage project this week when it cuts the ribbon on a $1.4-billion addition to its Boundary Dam power plant near Estevan.
Billed by SaskPower as the world’s first and largest commercial-scale, carbon-capture operation of its kind, the project outfits part of the coal-fired power station with a mechanism to capture carbon dioxide emissions and transport the gas through a steel pipeline into storage deep underground.
While its proponents say the project represents a way to burn fossil fuels – such as coal – more efficiently with less greenhouse gas, critics argue carbon capture simply enables the status quo and does little to mitigate the damage caused by carbon emissions.
“It’s a waste of vital capital that should be invested in conservation, efficiency and renewable [energy],” says Sierra Club Canada director John Bennett. “It doesn’t get us off fossil fuels.
“We can no longer talk in terms of using less of them, we have to be working towards eliminating them.”
The project aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one million tonnes annually, which amounts to about 90 per cent of the emissions from the plant.
“We sincerely expect this to become a model for plants around the world,” SaskPower chief executive officer Robert Watson says. “This is what we think is a long-term, fiscally responsible way of getting less emissions into the air.”
Some of the carbon dioxide will be liquefied and sold to oil companies to help extract more crude from the ground. The utility has a 10-year contract with Cenovus Energy Inc., a Calgary-based oil company, to buy the captured carbon.
The power station will also capture sulphur dioxide, which can be converted to sulphuric acid and sold for industrial use. A byproduct of coal combustion called fly ash will be captured and sold for use in concrete products.
The plant has been touted as a solution to climate change since 2008, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the site and announced $240-million in federal funding.
While the final costs are still being calculated, Mr. Watson acknowledged the project is over budget. Last fall, that overage was pegged at $115-million, or 9 per cent.
He said while the carbon-capture facility was “essentially on budget,” there were unforeseen issues with the power facility, including rebuilding the boiler and costs arising from an asbestos scare.
“Things that were beyond our control caused those issues,” he says.
Those issues led to delays. The plant was supposed to start storing some carbon in April.
Mr. Bennett says the investment in Boundary Dam could have been put toward renewable-energy projects, such as outfitting homes with solar panels.
“I don’t see this as having much of a long-term future,” he says.
Arvind Rajendran, a professor in engineering at the University of Alberta who studies carbon capture and storage, says the technology has been used in other industries, including the fertilizer industry, but not on the scale of the Boundary Dam.
“From that perspective, the data that is going to come out of Boundary Dam is very important. It will tell scientists and policy-makers the costs that are involved,” he says. “You have to supply extra energy to capture the [carbon dioxide] and that energy has to come from somewhere.”
SASKATCHEWAN GROWS BY ANOTHER 5,000 PEOPLE TO MORE THAN 1,125,000
Released on September 26, 2014
Saskatchewan’s population kept growing in the second quarter of 2014 (April 1 to July 1), increasing by another 5,281 people to 1,125,410. In the past year (July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014), the province grew by 19,163 people.
Both the quarterly and annual growth rates are the second highest among the provinces, behind only Alberta.
Premier Brad Wall said Saskatchewan’s continued growth is a clear indication of a strong economy.
“The population grows when the economy is creating new jobs and opportunities,” Wall said. “That has been the case for several years now in Saskatchewan – a complete reversal from when Saskatchewan was losing people, jobs and opportunities.”
Wall noted that in the last seven years (July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2014), Saskatchewan has grown by more than 123,000 people – a sharp contrast from the seven years prior to that (July 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007) when the province’s population dropped by more than 5,500.
“A strong economy and a growing population means a growing tax base that helps us to meet the challenges of growth,” Wall said. “It’s a virtuous circle as opposed to the vicious cycle of decline we used to face.”
Saskatchewan remains on track to meeting the target of 1.2 million people set in the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth while Statistics Canada said the province’s population could hit 1.5 million by 2038.
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