HicksBiz Blog

Category: Oil + Gas

Oil + Gas

HICKS ON BIZ: Lots more oil still to come By Graham Hicks, first published Edmonton Sun, February 28, 2020

The Aspen Oil Sands Project, Imperial Oil’s $2.6 billion, new in-situ oilsands project will eventually produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). It is under construction. Foster Creek Oil Sands Expansion Project — Cenovus — $2 billion, adding 40,000 bpd — under construction. Lewis/Meadow Creek East/Meadow Creek West SAGD Oil Sands Projects — Suncor — $2 billion, around 200,000 bpd from different projects — proposed. Narrows Lake In Situ Oil Sands Project — Cenovus — $1.6 billion — 130,000 bpd — proposed, currently deferred. What is our problem here? Why the tears and teeth-gnashing over the indefinite postponement of the TECK Frontier open-pit bitumen mining proposal in the oilsands, when environmentally acceptable in-situ oilsands projects are lined up around the block? STORY CONTINUES BELOW A quick oilsands refresher: There are two ways of extracting heavy oil (bitumen) from the oilsands, open-pit mining a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why another oilsands surface mine? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 3, 2020

From left, Kyran Auger, of Keepers of the Water, Bonwen Tucker, Oil Change International, Batul Gulamhusein of Climate Justice Alberta and Nigel Henri Robinson with Beaverhillls Warriors held a press event to call on the Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to reject the proposal and recommended approval of the Teck Frontier Mine in Northern Alberta on November 22, 2019. Photo by Shaughn Butts / PostmediaShaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Why would the Alberta government be so damned stupid as to propose another surface mine in the oilsands? No matter the science, the optics stink. Yet another vast, oily, tailings pond, huge intrusions into Mother Earth, vast disruptions of the beaver, the fox, the bear and the caribou. All the oilsands stuff that the Rest of Canada hates … and many Albertans are equally uneasy about. The federal Liberal government is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To that end, its core political support is near 100 per cent in ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Who needs pipelines? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 8, 2019

(This is the last of a Hicks on Biz series on Alberta’s economic future if new pipelines are not built.) For decades, Alberta’s wealth was criticized for being harvested, 100%, from the low-hanging fruit of oil and gas extraction and processing. It was just too easy to make money from oil and gas. The sector scooped up every new engineer and scientist graduating from our universities, every skilled tradesperson coming out of our colleges. Eighteen-year-old dropouts were paid $1,500 a week to drive truck. The bloom is off that rose. Alberta’s future growth will be the result of technology-savvy entrepreneurs reaching for that higher-hanging fruit. But not entirely. As mentioned at the start of this series, oil isn’t going away. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Even without new pipelines, and with more oil-by-rail, oil production at a minimum will grow from 3.5 million barrels a day today to 4 million. Meanwhile, despite the persistent denial of climate-change extre ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why moving oil by rail is a flop By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 3, 2019

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg. (File photo) By GRAHAM HICKS Today I am going to figure out, with the help of energy analyst Tim Pickering of Calgary-based Auspice Capital, one of the weirdest aspects of Alberta’s oil business. Despite good prices for our heavy oil, why has shipping oil-by-rail fallen off the map? Alberta oil producers are currently sitting pretty. Our Western Canadian Select (WCS) heavy oil – basically the oil from the oil sands — has moved from a rock-bottom $12 US a barrel last fall to around $40 today. (All prices are in American dollars. P.S. this column is not about the dreaded “differential” – it is concerned only with the actual price of heavy oil.) We all know the pipelines carrying our oil are full.  Our oil storage capacity – those great big tank farms we see around the Strathcona County refineries and elsewhere along our oil pipelines – is once again filling up. If the pipelines are full, the storage tanks ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: North American Construction soars from the ashes By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: March 1, 2019

North American Construction's President and COO Joe Lambert is dwarfed by one of the company's 300 monster haul-trucks.GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton North American Construction’s president and COO (chief operations officer) Joe Lambert sheds his corporate identity when he walks into the storied Spruce Grove company’s enormous, new, state-of-the-art repair/re-build facility in the Acheson Industrial Park. Lambert’s like a kid in a sandbox, showing off several of North American’s 240-ton to 400-ton earth-moving trucks in the shop for refurbishment and rebuilding. These are not just trucks, they are TRUCKS — some of the biggest in the world. With its most significant expansion since 2012, the publicly-traded company  purchased all of former competitor Aecon’s contract-mining division, including its entire dirt-moving fleet, in November. The 26 240-tonners added from Aecon has bumped North American’s dirt-hauling fleet to 300 trucks, from 100-ton car ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: MIA MLAs, oil investment and a little bit of this 'n' that BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 9, 2018

Robyn Luff, MLA for Calgary-East poses for a photo in her Calgary office on Aug. 20, 2018.Al Charest/Postmedia DOES ANYBODY KNOW THESE PEOPLE? When the Alberta NDP government was elected in May of 2015, the same question reverberated through business circles.  “Does anybody KNOW any of these people?” Outside of their own constituencies, you still hardly see or hear from those NDP MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) who are not cabinet ministers. Representing Metropolitan Edmonton constituencies for the NDP are Erin Babcock, Jon Carson, Estefania Cortes-Vargas, Lorne Dach, Nicole Goehring, Trevor Horne, Jessica Littlewood, Rod Loyola, Annie McKitrick, Chris Nielsen, Marie Renaud, Heather Sweet, Bob Turner and Denise Woollard. Does anybody even recognize their names? The only non-ministerial Edmonton NDP MLA with any kind of public profile is Edmonton Centre’s David Shepherd! Now we know why. Calgary MLA Robyn Luff, kicked out of the NDP caucus for spilling confidenti ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Not much in it for Alberta on LNG approval By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 2, 2018

Rendering of the North West side of the LNG Canada.Supplied / LNG Canada By GRAHAM HICKS Congrats to British Columbia. But is that the sound of one-hand clapping? It looks like the $40 billion – that’s BILLIONs, not MILLIONs – LNG Canada project/port is going  ahead. At least all the permits and processes and environmental this ‘n’ thats have been approved. LNG Canada will build a mega-specialized transfer port at Kitimat – in the same general region as Prince Rupert on the northern B.C. coast – to receive  natural gas through as yet-unbuilt-but-approved pipelines from the Montney natural gas fields of northeastern B.C. The gas shipped to the Kitimat plant will be super-cooled to the point of liquification, pumped into specialty LNG tankers and transported across the Pacific Ocean to countries where natural gas prices are five times higher than in North America. Thanks to new drilling and extraction technologies, Canada and the ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Climate leadership is tearing Canada apart By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, August 24, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.THE CANADIAN PRESS By GRAHAM HICKS Climate leadership is tearing Canada apart. Geographical regions are divided, First Nations’ groups are divided, governments are divided, political parties are divided, families are divided. In the past, almost all Canadians supported the great national projects that created today’s prosperity — the cross-Canada railroads, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the great hydro-electricity projects of B.C., Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland/Labrador. Today, Canada’s biggest potential prosperity-builder is construction of new or expanded pipelines and new ocean ports to export Western Canadian oil and natural gas to Eastern Canada, Asia, Europe and the USA. But these pipelines have become the central battleground, the symbolic line in the sand, between those convinced too much CO2 (from the burning of fossil fuels) is causing world-destroying global warming, a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is Big Oil slip-sliding away in Alberta? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: May 4, 2018

Stacks from the Petro-Canada Refinery rise above the Enbridge Oil Tank Farm in Sherwood Park, Ab.Colleen De Neve / Calgary Herald, file By GRAHAM HICKS There will be no dramatic cleaning out of Enbridge or TransCanada’s Calgary corporate headquarters, no fleet of moving vans heading down the American I-25 highway in a near straight line from Calgary through Denver to Houston. But until Canadian governments realize wealth creation is as important as the environment,  gender imbalance and social justice, Alberta’s major pipeline building companies will slip-slide away to the U.S. It won’t be dramatic. It never is. Corporations don’t want bad-news headlines. But Enbridge and TransCanada build pipelines. Major pipelines are not being built in Canada. Pipelines are being built in the U.S. Funny thing about doing business.  You go where the work is. Both TransCanada and Enbridge are going where the work is, via major acquisitions. In 2016, TransCan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta doesn't need wind farms by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 9, 2018

By GRAHAM HICKS I have been to a wind farm, watched the blades on 80-metre-tall wind turbines turn lazily in the late-February sun. In a very gentle 5.4 km/h wind, 16 megawatts (MW) of electricity were being generated — wind converted to electricity at each tower, fed through underground cables to a substation, then fed into the provincial power grid. In that lazy wind at Capital Power’s Halkirk Wind Farm about 30 kilometres east of Stettler, 83 towers each generated 230 kilowatts (kW) of power ‑ enough to perhaps power my neighbourhood at that very moment. Halkirk is impressive — the 83 wind turbines scattered across 60 square kilometres of working farmland are so quiet (at least in low winds), so grey, so clean against the blue sky — dotting the landscape around the village of Halkirk like ghostly sentinels. The technology and know-how are all imported. The global wind-farm company Vestas Wind Systems, headquartered in Denmark, manufactures, assembles, maintains and ... Read the rest of entry »
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