Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How "clean" is BC's natural gas industry?

Methane: The other important greenhouse gas, Environmental Defense Fund:
By emitting just a little bit of methane, mankind is greatly accelerating the rate of climatic change. - Steve Hamburg EDF Chief Scientist

What is methane?
Methane is the primary component of natural gas, a common fuel source.

Why are we concerned about it?
If methane is allowed to leak into the air before being used—from a leaky pipe, for instance—it absorbs the sun’s heat, warming the atmosphere. For this reason, it’s considered a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide.

Is it as important to address as carbon emissions?

While methane doesn’t linger as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it is initially far more devastating to the climate because of how effectively it absorbs heat. In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Both types of emissions must be addressed if we want to effectively reduce the impact of climate change.

About 25% of the manmade global warming we’re experiencing today is caused by methane emissions.

Where is it coming from?
Methane can come from many sources, both natural and manmade. But the largest source of industrial emissions is the oil and gas industry.
California's massive methane leak, Environmental Defense Fund:
On Oct. 23, 2015, a massive natural gas leak erupted at a storage well operated by SoCal Gas in Aliso Canyon, outside of Los Angeles. The leak has caused serious health impacts for nearby residents of the Porter Ranch neighborhood, and it opened eyes across the state – and the country – to the problem of oil and gas methane pollution.

Weeks later, the leak is ongoing and the gas company estimates it will be spring of 2016 before it can be stopped.

Aerial footage filmed Dec. 17, 2015, shows potent, climate-damaging methane gases escaping
from a massive natural gas leak at a storage facility in California’s Aliso Canyon, with the
San Fernando valley pictured in the background. The giant methane plumes were made visible
by a specialized infrared camera operated by an Earthworks ITC-certified thermographer.

'Bridge' fuel may escalate atmospheric greenhouse gas
, Cornell University Chronicle, October 2015:
...thanks to a heavier dose of methane emissions resulting from increased use of shale gas, greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. may have been rising rapidly...

Curbing methane emission reductions leads to instant atmospheric concentration reductions that significantly slow global warming rates almost immediately, said Robert Howarth [Cornell’s Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology].

The natural gas industry is the largest source of methane emissions in the U.S. By reducing methane and soot (black carbon) emissions, society can buy time while moving aggressively toward a renewable energy economy, said Howarth.

While it is essential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, this alone would result in no measurable improvement on global warming rates in less than 30 years, he said.

“Methane emissions make it a disastrous idea to consider shale gas as a bridge fuel, letting society continue to use fossil fuels over the next few decades,” Howarth said. “Rather, we must move as quickly as possible away from all fossil fuels – shale gas, conventional natural gas, coal and oil – and toward a truly sustainable energy future using 21st-century technologies and wind and solar power.”
Premier Clark's election campaign in 2013 promised that hundreds of billions of dollars from natural gas would result in a debt-free province, flush with new money for education, healthcare and other cash-starved social programs. Even better, she said, gas, BC's clean fossil fuel, would replace coal, BC's dirty fossil fuel.

Of course, we'll still ship as much coal as we can and, when it comes to matters of the environment, opinions of peer-reviewed experts will be disregarded and disparaged. As our most gaseous minister says, "I'm not going to buy any of this."

Since the actual result from gas development is expense, not income, and increased, not lessened, pollution, perhaps what Coleman said will be the response of BC voters when next given opportunity to evaluate Liberal promises.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Fewer words, more pictures

Province defends Massey Bridge as top pick for federal grants, Jeff Nagel, Black Press, December 21, 2015:
Transportation Minister Todd Stone is defending the province's decision to make the replacement of the Massey Tunnel B.C.'s top priority to receive new federal infrastructure grants.

The choice of the new bridge over the Fraser River – expected to cost around $3 billion  [$3.5 billion] – isn't sitting well with some Metro Vancouver mayors, who worry it may effectively compete for federal cash against their rapid transit projects...

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Deceit as government policy

Writing in The Tyee, Damien Gillis provides the best analysis I've seen of Christy Clark's LNG fantasies. Read it and share it.

Three Fibs Premier Clark Uses to Sell LNG Dream
Sorry, it's not clean. It won't pay off. It's not popular. Here's why.
  • Fib #1: LNG is 'clean'
  • Fib #2: The business case for LNG is solid
  • Fib #3: First Nations and communities broadly support LNG

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fluid mechanics

H/T: RobS

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Friday, December 18, 2015

From the news archives: Site C history - UPDATED

Large Dams Cost Twice Original Budget, Researchers Say, Bloomberg Business, March 11, 2014:
Large dams run 96 percent over budget on average, according to a University of Oxford study based on projects in 65 countries including Brazil and China.

The study, to be published today in the journal Energy Policy, showed that large dams also took about 2.3 years longer to complete than originally planned. That was about 44 percent longer than projected at the point of approval. The research was based on a study of 245 dams...
Million here, billion there, infrastructure cost overruns add up, Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC, September 8, 2015:
Something is amiss when infrastructure projects routinely overshoot their original estimates by millions – and sometimes – billions of dollars in B.C.

It isn’t rounding errors. It’s sloppy estimating, bad procurement, ill-conceived plans and often a lack of a boss where the buck stops on some projects...
We learn that, around the world, large dams routinely cost double the amounts estimated and we know the budgets and construction periods of BC Liberal mega projects invariably need multiple adjustments until they finally finish "on time, on budget" despite being far off the marks on both. See Liberal estimates and guesstimates for detail.

It's one thing for the budget of an $800 million truck roadway to soar half a billion dollars; it would be quite another thing for a $9 billion dam to double in cost.

The following was published here one year ago and is worth reading again as commitments mount at BC Hydro's Site C.

* * * * *

Globe and Mail, October 4, 1979:
British Columbia Hydro has announced plans to apply for approval for a hydro-electric power project at Site C on the Peace River…
Globe and Mail, February 13, 1981:
British Columbia Hydro has applied for a water licence to build the $1.95- billion Site C power project on the Peace River…
Globe and Mail, December 14, 1981:
Conflicts, contradictions and lack of clarity in testimony and reports marked the first hearings into B.C. Hydro's proposed $2.64-billion hydro-electric dam on the Peace River…

The dam has sparked controversy since its inception. Proponents claim it could be an economic boon to the community and the province. Opponents say the loss of agricultural land, wildlife reserves and heritage resources, coupled with doubts as to the accuracy of Hydro's energy forecasts, leave some question of the need for such a huge dam…

One thing is clear: there are no consistent or totally accurate methods of forecasting electrical demand. In fact, William Best, Hydro vice- president, said the utility's forecasting and planning record wasn't too good…
Globe and Mail, September 8, 1982:
B.C. Hydro has notified the B.C. Utilities Commission of plans to delay its proposed Site C dam project on the Peace River by 22 months.
Abandon dam plan, study says, Sarah Cox, Vancouver Sun, February 9, 1987
Plans to build the controversial Site C dam in northeastern B.C. should be abandoned in favor of a cheaper and equally lucrative energy conservation program, says a study released today.

The study, by the Northwest Conservation Act Coalition, says B.C. Hydro can generate the same amount of surplus electricity by improving industrial equipment as by building the $1.4-billion dam and generating station - and for about one-half the cost.

The conservation program would also create more long-term jobs and spur more economic activity than the Site C proposal, says the NCAC…
Site C dam quietly moved to Hydro's front burner, Justine Hunter, Vancouver Sun, September 18, 1989
B.C. Hydro has stepped up plans to build the Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River, quietly reviving the multi-billion-dollar project shelved by the provincial cabinet in 1983 amid an uproar of opposition.

…Hydro's move is based on projected needs "which may or may not be realized…"
Energy minister sees alternatives to Site C, Vancouver Sun, May 10, 1990
Power projects initiated by B.C. Hydro will be increasingly guided by environmental concerns because of mounting public pressure, says Energy Minister Jack Davis.

But he said the province has an abundance of power sources: "We have the scope to be different," he told the Electric Energy Forum.

Davis cited various ways B.C. Hydro can get more power without building the Site C project, which is opposed by agriculture-based interests because prime land would be flooded…
If it's more jobs we want, conservation beats building dam, Judy Lindsay, Vancouver Sun, August 8, 1991
AFTER FIVE YEARS blessedly free of the kind of costly mega-projects that captivated previous governments, B.C. is overdue for a fix of concrete, according to Premier Rita Johnston.

In a policy statement issued during the leadership campaign Johnston said she wants to accelerate construction of the $3-billion Site C dam, long proposed for the Peace River in northern B.C. but currently on B.C. Hydro's back-burner.

Before she lifts that ceremonial first shovelful of dirt for the project, however, she should listen to David Sims and Mark Jaccard.

Those two men have some interesting findings for would-be dam builders.

Sims, a graduate student at Simon Fraser University, and Jaccard, an assistant professor in resource and environmental management, compared the employment effects of Site C construction with Hydro's energy conservation efforts, packaged under the rubric Power Smart.

Sims and Jaccard say Power Smart would create more work for less money than the dam…
Peace River Site C dam dead, Rod Nutt, Vancouver Sun, November 30, 1993
"Site C is dead for two reasons," Eliesen said. "The fiscal exposure is too great . . . the dam is too costly. Also it is environmentally unacceptable…"
Developing nations are making the same mistakes we have, Times Colonist, March 17, 1995
The Quebec government's move to postpone the Great Whale hydro-electric project and the British Columbia government's decision to shelve the Site C dam are the most recent indications that "the large dam era" in North America has finally come to a close.

…While some of these projects helped to create wealth and development, they also came with a huge environmental and social price tag. Fortunately, we're now at the stage where we're willing and able to explore alternative energy strategies and, in British Columbia, conservation practices have freed up new energy at a fraction of the cost of new dam development. Similarly, the dam issues of the 90s in much of the United States are focusing on the dismantling of old dams as opposed to the construction of new ones…
Rod Nutt, Sun Business Reporter. The Vancouver Sun, 18 Jan 1997:
In the early 1980s, B.C. Hydro stated it needed the Site C Dam on the Peace River. That project went to a full public hearing and the commission correctly found that it could not be justified.
BC Hydro boss wants controversial Site C dam project revived, Canadian Press, March 20,2001
The chairman of B.C. Hydro said Tuesday he'd like to see a controversial northern B.C. dam project revived and get fast-track approval from the government…
Controversial Site C dam still a potential Hydro project, Alaska Highway News, June 1, 2003
The controversial Site C hydro mega-project is getting new life on BC Hydro's list of potential power projects.
Province needs a new hydro dam, Times Colonist, April 3, 2004
B.C. Hydro is using the C-word again. It's promoting construction of the Site C dam on the Peace River to boost our supply of cheap electricity…

Despite the cost of the project -- estimated at $2.1 billion today, although earlier estimates have been around $3 billion -- hydro-electric development is still regarded as the most cost- effective way to produce power…

Hydro expresses confidence that the private sector can provide as much as 99 per cent of the cost of building the dam…
B.C. Hydro wraps up Site C pre-consultation, Alaska Highway News, March 20, 2008
B.C. Hydro has completed pre-consultation meetings for the proposed Site C dam and will move into the second round of consultations in May…
Site C dam proposal moves ahead, Black Press, January 8, 2008
BC Hydro completed the opening phase of a feasibility study on the construction of a third dam on the Peace River, estimating that the project could cost between $5 billion and $6.6 billion.

That's roughly twice the cost estimate given when the Site C project was presented to the B.C. Utilities Commission in 1982…
Site C support "marginal", Prince George Free Press, February 26, 2009
Public support for the development of a major hydroelectric dam at Site C on the Peace River is marginal, according to a report released by B.C. Hydro earlier this month…
Drilling hole on a well-known archeological site, Canadian Press, June 26, 2009
…BC Hydro drilled a sump within boundaries of a recorded archeological site during geotechnical investigations last year. The site was an important historic area that First Nations people once occupied…
B.C. nearing Site C decision, Scott Simpson, Times Colonist, April 16, 2010
Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom has a big decision to make.

The MLA from Dawson Creek says he will not wait for detailed engineering and environmental studies before choosing whether or not to proceed with the proposed Site C dam on the Peace River.

An announcement is expected as early as next week…
Site C hydro dam approved, Prince Rupert Daily News, April 21, 2010
"The decision has been made," Campbell said to applause…

"Site C is an important part of B.C.'s energy, economic and social future and we are ready to take it on in all of its detail and in all of its complications, so we can build the future that our young people deserve."

[Blair Lekstron] said discussions with First Nations would go forward. "We have to sit down and continue the dialogue that we have developed with Treaty 8 First Nations…

…Hudson's Hope Mayor Karen Anderson was surprised at the conclusiveness of the language in the announcement and said she does not have faith that further public consultation will be given much consideration in the assessment process.

"We went into consultations, we asked certain questions and we have never heard the answers to those questions, so I think that speaks for itself."…
Money talks but Hydro won't listen. B.C. band quits Site C consultations, Canadian Press, August 5, 2010
The McLeod Lake Indian Band has returned more than $100,000 dollars to B.C. Hydro and says it's pulling out of the consultation process for the proposed Site C hydroelectric dam in northeastern B.C.

Hydro provided the funding to the band to assist with participation in talks surrounding the massive dam.

Taking part in the process is pointless, band chief Derek Orr said in a press release issued Wednesday, because building the project has become a foregone conclusion and the band has been excluded from any decision-making.

When the consultation process began this spring, the band raised concerns about the historical impact the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams have had on the band and its traditional territory…

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pammy's progress

RossK's The Gazetteer, in This Day In Clarkland...Pammy's Progress, featured a Tweet of BC's NotSenator Pam talking with Burke Mountain Liberals in Coquitlam. I couldn't not reply.

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It's a start

B.C. Liberal party executive director resigns, facing criminal charges in Ontario, CBC News, December 17, 2015:
Laura Miller charged with breach of trust, mischief, and misuse of a computer system to commit mischief...
Questions we must ask:
  • Why was a person under active police investigation hired by Christy Clark's Liberal Party?
  • Did that person have particular qualities that appealed to BC Liberals?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Flaws of classic cars

In moments of honesty, we older folks will admit the cars of our youth are better in memory than they were in reality.

I knew a man who lovingly restored an early Mustang but sold it soon after completion. I asked why. His answer, "Because, it's a pig to drive."

Look at this video from Consumer Reports and wonder how you survived the good old days.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Gas production ↑ 85%, public revenue ↓ 90%

Days ago, Premier Clark averred that meeting needs of children in government care is dependent on new funding from new industrial and commercial activities in British Columbia:
"We don't have the resources to fix those problems unless we grow the economy," Clark said in a year-end interview with CBC legislative reporter Richard Zussman.
That condition was not applied to construction of the Site C dam that will ultimately cost $10-$15 billion. Nor was it applied to about $10 billion of road and bridge construction in the lower mainland or $1 billion spent to deliver subsidized power to Murray Edwards' Red Chris mine. Nor was it a condition precedent when Clark wanted to expand the size of her cabinet or hire yet more government spin doctors. A $200 million tax break for our richest citizens did not depend on new economic activity.

The reality is that Christy Clark uses trick plays in government as Emilio Estevez did for hockey in a Mighty Ducks movie. She was elected in 2013 on a promise that natural gas development would make BC debt free and allow her to eliminate sales taxes while building a $100 billion Prosperity Fund.

However, while she pretended a new affluence for all was just around the corner, her minions were ensuring that government was delivering public resources into private hands, which invariably belonged to generous financial backers of the BC Liberals.

Take, for example, revenues derived from selling petroleum and drilling rights. In the final 12 months of NDP administration, those sales brought in almost $600 million, measured in current dollars. Additionally, natural gas royalties were $1.6 billion. In summary, the natural gas industry paid British Columbia $2.2 billion in a year near the turn of the century. By comparison, in the current year, total natural gas revenues will be well under a tenth of that value. Shockingly, production of gas, measured in millions of cubic metres, increased 85%.

Premier Clark stands before the people, during the Christmas season, and says we cannot afford appropriate care for the province's most vulnerable children. It is hypocrisy that exceeds the most egregious action of a most sanctimonious woman.

Gas Royalties 2001 to 2015

2008 to 2016 BC gas revenues 15 12 16

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Adele - for those who don't know already

From December 2011, when I first noticed the British star: 

I may be late but 2011 was the year I discovered brilliant young English singer-songwriter Adele Laurie Blue Adkins.

Salon.com calls her The one musician we all agree on.

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Rich lands, poor people

If a province allows extraction of natural resources and takes back little or no share of produced value, its gross domestic product (GDP) may rise on paper but its citizens become poorer as raw assets are depleted and the environment is degraded.

Typically in BC, foreign owned companies export resources for final processing or manufacturing using foreign transport, foreign agents and overseas management. Exporters return only a portion of value to the local economy and they maximize sales proceeds held overseas, often in tax havens.

What matters to citizens is not the value exported but the wealth circulated internally. If a region is not adequately compensated for materials exported, ultimately, it will suffer poverty. If a local economy exports resources without adding value, it minimizes the worth of commodities delivered.

The land that depletes its resources must account for pollution of land, air and water. These are hidden costs, frequently ignored by people who benefit by hiding them. Usual economic measures – GDP for example - do not indicate economic well-being and sustainability.

Lands rich in resources often end up being rich countries with poor people.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Distortions and half-truths but mostly outright lies

February 13, 2013, three months before her first general election as Premier, Christy Clark announced:
...the new British Columbia Prosperity Fund to ensure communities, First Nations and all British Columbians benefit from the development of a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry...

LNG development is poised to trigger approximately $1 trillion in cumulative GDP within British Columbia over the next 30 years and that means more than $100 billion will flow directly to the Prosperity Fund.

Province wide, LNG is expected to create on average 39,000 annual direct, indirect and induced full-time jobs during a nine-year construction period. As well, there could be as many as 75,000 full-time jobs required once all LNG plants are in full operation...


...Projected total revenues to government are estimated between $130 billion and $260 billion over the next 30 years. In order to maximize the benefits of these developments to future generations of British Columbians, the provincial government is establishing a new British Columbia Prosperity Fund...
During the election campaign, Liberals promised that LNG revenues would not only ensure a debt free British Columbia but gas production would also fund essential spending for health care, education and social services. They claimed their plan demonstrated the superiority of BC Liberal financial management because, after almost 40 years, Alberta's Heritage Fund contained only $17 billion, a fund accumulation 1/10 or 1/20 the rate intended for B.C.

So that we don't forget this good news, Northern Insight will calculate the accrued income that is coming our way. It updates regularly.

First Pamela, we'd have to move to Norway.

Bringing us some of the news that's fit to print, and a little more, Dirk Meissner rewrote pre-election Liberal press releases for Postmedia, the company that chose to partner with Canada's resource industries and their favourite politicians.

B.C.’s LNG plans on same scale as oil sands: Clark, Dirk Meissner, December 13, 2012:
VICTORIA — 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] 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.
Now, almost three years later, the so-called experts are proven to be no-brainers. They were drawn willingly or stupidly into participating as partisans in the 2013 BC election. Not only has the province not moved forward on LNG, it's lost billions of revenues that used to flow from its gas fields. BC is not realizing additional revenues from natural gas despite returning billions of dollars to the industry through drilling and infrastructure subsidies. In fact, the province is no longer receiving material payments through royalties or the sale of petroleum and gas rights. According to the Finance Ministry, gas has reached the price point where royalty revenues are zero.


An item, brought to my attention on Twitter, was published online by the Shaw family's CKNW. It demonstrated the station's continuing allegiance to the Liberal Party brand. Skepticism or critical analysis involving Asian LNG markets is not for the former top dog of BC broadcasting; their job is lay groundwork for the coming election.

Premier’s promised ‘Prosperity Fund’ to be tabled just in time for 2017 election, Shane Woodford, June 22, 2015:
A fund promising to cure all our financial woes promised by Premier Christy Clark in her election campaign two years ago will finally see the light of day just before the next provincial election.

...And while momentum has been made on her promised LNG industry there likely won’t be a single facility built by the time the 2017 campaign arrives.
Woodford might have noted the international consensus that LNG market conditions are oversupplied for at least the next decade but background information is seldom provided to stenographers.

I cannot resist expressing amusement over that final sentence in the NW article. Momentum, according to dictionaries of English, is about motion of a moving body or process that is becoming faster or stronger. By definition, the momentum of an airplane stops completely when it crashes to the ground. Similarly, movement, powered by natural gas, toward a debt-free province ends when the gas industry costs more tax revenue than it produces.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

John's still aghast

Almost one year ago, this piece was submitted as a comment to another article. It still makes as much sense as it did last December so I feature it at the top.
An open letter to Christy Clark

Dear Ms. Clark,

PLEASE, puhleese get off your LNG horse, or at least change direction.

The bloom is off the rose!

Remember Northeast Coal? Before your time, but nevertheless we spent millions creating infrastructure whereby a few coal miners prospered greatly until the bottom fell out of the coal market. They got rich and the taxpayers ended up with the infrastructure.

Remember the aluminum ferries? Different regime, but a disaster nevertheless. Especially when the half billion dollar investment in the shipbuilding industry was 'sold' for nineteen million dollars instead of capitalizing on the infrastructure we'd created.

Remember the hydrogen fueled bus experiment? Current regime! We spent more on diesel fuel trucking the hydrogen from Quebec than the busses used to haul Whistler folk around town. Why didn't we set up our own hydrogen manufacturing resource? Why didn't we study the economics of hydrogen fueled busses before plunging into this experiment?

Don't let the same thing happen to the LNG 'industry'!

100,000 new jobs? We don't have enough people to fill the jobs we have! Besides, the oil and gas people have their own contractors who have their own TFWs - they don't hire many locals. Speaking of which, why don't we hire TFWs (Temporary FERRY Workers) from Washington State. They have manager to worker ratios of 40:1, we have ratios of 6:1; and we pay them twice as much! Yes that's right; one manager for every forty employees and we can only manage six.

Back to LNG. That one trillion dollar thing? Don't sweat it. I too get confused after 6 or 7 zeroes and I have a similar education to you (was at McGill in '54, UBC various times, SFA/SFU for wrestling and TRC/TRU for various events, although I did manage a degree). Besides, you never said who would get the trillion dollars.

I think its time to come clean and admit circumstances have changed (because LNG has tanked since you made those promises). Time to concentrate on CNG, as you recently did with BC Ferries. Wouldn't it be great if we could ship it coast to coast - as fuel for railroad locomotives! Then there's the mining and transportation industries that could capitalize on cheap fuel. (Think too of the benefits to the environment, and First Nations.)

Oh, and one more thing - all those skilled trades jobs you are funding. We don't need a whole bunch of welders and pipefitters (TFWs, ya' know). But we do need doctors and nurses, etc. Managers, well we can get them from BC Ferries.

I'm just a lonely man, lonely and blue (cue music). But you have dozens of aides. Perhaps, if they got their heads together, they could improve on this post.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

John's Aghast
December 8, 2014

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

What gas industry?

Note: Numbers from monthly summaries of Crown Petroleum and Natural Gas Rights Public Tenders, adjusted to 2015 dollars.

It should be noted that the current year's budget for Gas Development Ministry spending is $444 million. So with the huge subsidies by tax expenditures and substantial political attention paid recently to extractive industries in British Columbia, the province must enjoy huge benefits through employment, right?

Not according to Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 282-0007:

Note: Mining provides about half the jobs with oil and gas employing the other half. Nearly all activity involves natural gas since there is a relatively small amount of crude oil produced.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Marcellus was correct

The more time I spend reviewing BC Hydro, the more I am reminded of the famous line spoken by a minor character in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

BC Hydro released its Second Quarter report for Fiscal Year 2016. Domestic consumption (residential, commercial and industrial) is down 2% compared to the same period of the year prior and the twelve months ended March 2016 may show the lowest level of consumption by homeowners and businesses in British Columbia since 1998.

NDP MLA Gary Holman says this information:
Reinforces need for the BC Utilities Commission to examine dubious business case for Site C.
Regardless of reduced demand, British Columbia continues construction at Site C and purchases more from Independent Power Producers. The power strategy of Christy Clark's government is impossible for honest people to understand.

These charts are prepared from BC Hydro reports:

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No limit, no principle, no shame

Christy Clark accused of interfering in local band election to aid brother’s deal, Mark Hume, Globe and Mail, December 9, 2015
Premier Christy Clark has been accused of interfering in a local band election to help a candidate who supports a $10-million wind farm proposal involving her brother, Bruce Clark.

...During her visit to Old Massett, a small native community on the north end of Haida Gwaii, Ms. Clark announced at a public meeting that the province was making a $150,000 grant to the Old Massett Village Council (OMVC).

The money is for a feasibility study of a proposed $4-million expansion to the 40-student elementary school on the reserve.

The announcement gave a boost to the campaign of Mr. Rea, who has been a long-time supporter of Mr. Clark’s proposed wind farm...
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Monday, December 7, 2015

Loyalty rewarded

UBC Board of Governors elects Stuart Belkin as new chair, UBC News, December 7, 2015:
UBC’s Board of Governors has elected Stuart Belkin as the board’s incoming chair. Belkin is chair and chief executive officer of Belkorp Industries Inc., a private Vancouver-based management holding company.
What the press release did not report is that Stuart Belkin and associated companies contributed, according to Elections BC records, $270,368 to the BC Liberal Party. In addition, Timberwest Forest, where Belkin was a founding director, contributed another $260,047, all of it before the government's BC Investment Corporation bought the entire company for an undisclosed price.

Op-ed: Why is UBC asking us for more money?, Sophie Sutcliffe, The Ubyssey
I, along with the rest of the UBC community, received another broadcast email yesterday. Upon opening it, I discovered another request from UBC for donations, this time under the guise of "Giving Tuesday."

...So no, Martha Piper, I will not be donating today.

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LNG: a decade of oversupply

Toil ahead for oil, but expect double trouble for LNG, Angela Macdonald-Smith, Energy Reporter, Sydney Morning Herald, December 7, 2014
The crude oil market is seen as being in dire straits, but liquefied natural gas is much worse, according to experts.

Hanging as a dark cloud over the market for the next several years are large volumes of LNG from committed US export projects that have firm sales contracts but have yet to be sold to end users.

Consultancy FGE says between 25 million and 35 million tonnes of the 65 million tonnes a year of US LNG export capacity under construction has been sold to "middlemen", traders or portfolio LNG players such as BG Group or Mitsubishi, which still need to sell the gas on.

"Portfolio sellers and traders are not end users: they must find buyers," FGE founder Fereidun Fesharaki says.

In addition, about one-third of Qatar's export LNG volumes are unsold...

That means about 70 million tonnes a year of LNG still needs a buyer, which will weigh on the oversupplied Asian market potentially through to the mid-2020s, the consultancy says. Dr Fesharaki describes those holding the contracts as "desperate sellers" that will provide stiff competition for producers seeking customers for new projects...
Asian LNG market to enter deeper glut as demand falters, supplies soar, Reuters, December 3, 2017:
  • Demand in Japan, South Korea and China stalls
  • Demand from new importers not enough to meet soaring supplies
  • Asian spot LNG prices to fall below $5/mmBtu in 2016 - analyst
Asia's liquefied natural gas (LNG) glut is set to deepen in 2016 as long-planned new production comes to the market just as demand from top buyers Japan and South Korea as well as China wanes.

While analysts say that new consumer demand may offset dwindling use from established buyers, new supplies will outweigh overall orders, resulting in a low gas price outlook for years to come.

"From having been an import basin, Asia will next year be going to have excess supplies and worse so in 2017," said David Hewitt, co-head of global oil and gas equity research at Credit Suisse.

...Hewitt said he expected Asian LNG spot to fall to "eye-watering low" levels of below $5 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in early 2016 and to hit a low of $4 during the year.

Because of the emerging glut, Asian spot LNG prices LNG-AS have already plummeted by almost two-thirds since 2014 to around $7.30 per mmBtu...
Natural Gas
WTI Crude Oil
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Our wealth commands us

As a student politician in her untenured days at SFU, Christy Clark operated with an imperfect moral compass. When final history is written, the hallmark of her premiership will be deceit and corruption.

Her government regularly wages war against working people and helps contractors evade the few responsibilities owed employees.

Income and disability assistance rates were last raised on June 1, 2007 but annual drilling subsidies to gas producers climbed 130% in the same time frame, from $370 million to $850 million. In addition, since 2007, natural gas royalties receipts declined from $1.2 billion to $185 million in the current fiscal year. Revenues from gas and petroleum rights sales fell from $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2009 to only $9.7 million in the first 11 months of 2015.

Christy Clark's government had BC Hydro spend a billion dollars on the Northwest powerline and Iskut extension so that it could deliver electricity to Imperial Metals' Red Chris mine at a fraction of the price of new power the utility buys from independent producers. In the last few days, the Clark government issued a permit for Imperial Metals' Mount Polley mine to discharge contaminated water from its open pit tailings pond into Hazeltine Creek and Quesnel Lake.

Why does Imperial Metals get favoured treatment? Because it is part of the portfolio of investments of Calgary billionaire Murray Edwards. He's the BC Liberal supporter who in 2013 arranged a $1-million private fundraiser in Alberta to fund Christy Clark’s re-election bid in BC. But, that was only part of Edwards' offerings to BC Liberals. Elections BC reports almost $1 million of contributions from companies and partners of Edwards.

Christy Clark probably skipped classes in political philosophy but if she hadn't, she might have read the statement by 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke:
If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.

What follows in an except from an article about Clark's generous financial friend. I recommend the entire linked piece.

The Imperial Aspirations of Murray Edwards, Andrew Findlay, Alberta Venture, May 2015:
[Wade Davis] The B.C.-born, internationally renowned ethnobotanist is the author of the bestselling book The Serpent and the Rainbow and is now on faculty at the University of British Columbia. Davis has a personal stake in the Imperial Metals story; he owns a lodge within view of the Red Chris Mine, which sits near Mount Todagin where the headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena rivers rise. It’s a region that conservationists and First Nations refer to as the Sacred Headwaters.

He believes Edwards’ play in the B.C. mining sector demonstrates how power and politics influence resources management; in fact, that was the subject of a talk he gave on February 12 to a sold-out audience of 500 on the U.B.C. campus. Since 2006, the B.C. Liberal government has pushed hard for a controversial expansion of the power grid into the northern wilderness, at a cost of more than $800 million – $130 million of which came from the federal government’s Green Infrastructure Fund. The so-called Northwest Transmission Line was being built to enable a number of major resource development investments, including Shell Canada’s Klappan coalbed methane project and Nova Gold and Teck Resource’s Galore Creek copper and gold property, both of which have since been derailed by global economics.

That leaves Red Chris, along with a small run-of-river hydro project owned by AltaGas (which sells power back to British Columbians at a premium price), as the only major player on the power line grid. Davis says Red Chris would not be feasible without the extension of the power line, and that the $886-million expenditure “appears increasingly as a public subsidy for a single mine.”

That’s why he is very uncomfortable with the Liberal government’s cozy relationship with Edwards. “I don’t think the B.C. government will do anything to compromise its relationship with that mine or Mr. Edwards,” Davis said, in an email.

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When industry buys a government...

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Corus - CKNW Orphans' Fund revisited

The Voluntarism Fantasy, Mike Konczal, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, 2014
Conservatives dream of returning to a world where private charity fulfilled all public needs. But that world never existed — and we’re better for it.
...Before government took on the role of providing social insurance, individuals and private charity did everything needed to insure people against the hardships of life; given the chance, they could do it again.

This vision has always been implicit in the conservative ascendancy...
Konczal's article is written for an American audience and references that country's experiences. However, Canada also has been influenced by ideological followers of Hayek and they believe that publicly funded social welfare programs equate with socialism, which inevitably threatens capitalism and leads to totalitarianism. Not wanting to redistribute wealth through taxation, right-wing libertarians promote individual charity as the way to address human needs.

These words explain part of my reluctance to celebrate charities. The other part of my discomfort comes from observations made while doing financial accounting and auditing of organizations established to help people in need. Needless to say, some encouraged cynicism.

In recent years, I've monitored and written about the CKNW Orphans' Fund. Until 2003, it dedicated every dollar raised to its charitable activities. At that point, a bean-counter at Corus headquarters saw the Orphans' Fund as a way of improving corporate profits. Administrative costs previously covered by the radio station are now paid by donors' contributions. As the chart - taken from CRA reports - demonstrates, the costs have been rising, particularly after the retirement of longtime fund administrator Shirley Stocker.

The Shaw family minions have a right to levy whatever costs the charity's board of directors is willing to absorb. What NW doesn't have the right to do is to claim it supports the Orphans' Fund as it did when Vancouver's Griffiths family were owners. The difference is more than $3 million to date.

Since I first went public with information about Orphans' Fund administration, the radio station has reduced its self-congratulations for how it treats the charity. Whereas it once announced that every dollar went to the kids, now they usually say most of each dollar benefits children.

However, if someone, staff member or guest, claims the station pays every cost of administration, the statement seems always to go uncorrected. Here is an example from December 3, near the end of the Lynda Steele show. The male voice is that of evening host Drex:

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thinking of you Christy

Bloomberg Business says, "Spare a thought for anyone who bet on a recovery in liquefied natural gas prices after last year’s 45 percent plunge."

Bloomberg also says:
LNG to northeast Asia, home to the world’s biggest consumers, plunged 27 percent this year, outpacing Brent’s 23 percent slump as of Wednesday. While analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show that crude will recover in 2016, prices for the super-chilled fuel will probably extend declines by as much as 23 percent...

“The biggest story is the increase in LNG export capacity,” said Mike Fulwood, principal for global gas at Nexant Inc.’s Energy and Chemicals Advisory in London. Capacity will increase 14 percent through the fourth quarter next year, “while demand is increasing much more slowly in the main LNG importing countries.”

As the price plunge ripples through markets, the growing output is impacting the world’s biggest producers of the fuel. Qatar waived a $1 billion penalty for lower imports under an Indian contract, while Russia’s Gazprom PJSC offered its first-ever gas auctions in Europe in September.

LNG for delivery in the next four to eight weeks in Asia cost $7.40 per million British thermal units as of Nov. 30, according to WGI. The spot price may fall as low as $5.70 next year...

The global oversupply will reach as much as 31 million tons, or 8 percent of capacity, by 2018, according to Bernstein.

The glut is widening as Japan, South Korea and China aren’t importing as much as they used to amid slower growth, over-contracting and expansion of nuclear capacity. China’s LNG imports may this year decline for the first time since they started a decade ago...

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Recipe for the future

10 things business should do to save the planet, Cecilie Hultmann and Anne Louise Koefoed, Sustainability DNV-GL, December 1, 2015:
...while governments are busy haggling over details, business should pick up the clear signal and start looking beyond Paris. Here are 10 things business leaders should urgently do.
  1. Develop a long-term vision
  2. Redefine the company purpose
  3. Aim for net positive value
  4. Establish a strong accountability system
  5. Set in motion the transition
  6. Advertise responsibly
  7. Embrace transparency
  8. Look for opportunities
  9. Lobby responsibly
  10. Nurture collaboration
Of course, this list is also applicable to every level of government. It is dangerous to continue business as usual, exalting growth of polluting industries when survival of the planet may be at risk. The concept of "grow first, clean up later" is wrong, particularly when a truly sustainable economy can develop equivalent levels of wealth.

The ILO, a United Nations agency, reported in 2013:
Escalating natural resource use and pollution will compound the growing scarcity of fresh water and fertile land and accelerate the loss of biodiversity and climate change beyond tolerable – perhaps even manageable – levels. The overuse of natural resources, such as forests, fish and clean water, and the rising levels of pollution, including emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), are increasingly exceeding planetary boundaries.

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Mr. Prime Minister, start pushing British Columbia

Trudeau says Indigenous people can teach the world how to care for the planet, APTN National News, November 30, 2015:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a speech in Paris that Indigenous people can teach the world how to care for the planet.

...He said Indigenous people are taking a leadership role on climate change and that Indigenous knowledge could be helpful in dealing with the issue.

“Indigenous peoples have known for thousands of years how to care for our planet,” said Trudeau. “The rest of us have a lot to learn and no time to waste.”
Justin Trudeau pledges to push laggards on climate change, Toronto Star, November 17, 2015:
Canada will work with the United States to push laggard nations to adopt more ambitious climate change goals going into the Paris talks to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a signal of Ottawa’s new readiness to act on the environment file, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

B.C. Natural Gas..., Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 26, 2015
The B.C. government has long contended in fact sheets distributed to the province's high schools that exporting "clean" natural gas to China would reduce the use of dirty coal and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But the fact sheets are based on questionable numbers, Hughes [David Hughes, one of Canada's foremost energy analysts and a former federal government geoscientist] argues. For example, the 1.5 per cent methane leakage rate from shale gas fields cited by the government is an underestimation, he says. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now uses a leakage rate of three per cent.

Using the three per cent figure on methane leakage, "burning imported B.C. LNG in China would produce 27 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions from the various processes in the LNG supply chain on a 20-year time frame," Hughes claims.

As a consequence, he reports, "building modern coal plants in China is likely to be superior on a 20-year timeline to building new gas plants to burn imported B.C. LNG."
BC’s climate action masquerade, Marc Lee, CCPA Policy Note, November 29, 2015:
BC has received much praise since its 2008 introduction of a carbon tax (under previous Premier Gordon Campbell), and for its legislated greenhouse gas targets, which call for a one-third reduction in emissions by 2020 relative to 2007 levels.

The trouble is BC has done essentially nothing on the climate file since that time, and the current Clark government has actively been moving the yardsticks backwards by aggressively pursuing an LNG export industry. In truth, Campbell’s Climate Action Plan never contained measures sufficient to meet that 2020 target. A 2008 Climate Action Team was tasked to make recommendations about how the province could achieve the 2020 target, but the government largely ignored them...

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Alternative view of conflict in Syria

An SDS radical, Dr. Lawrence Davidson took voluntary exile in Canada during the early seventies. Returning home after six years, he became an educator and now writes commentary, often about American responses to international problems. Rafe Mair recommended a recent essay so I spent reading time at Davidson's website, TO THE POINT ANALYSES. There are many opinions to contemplate.

Following are excerpts from Who is Right in Syria? – An Analysis by Lawrence Davidson, November 29, 2015. It's not a point of view welcomed in North America's corporate media:
Here is the situation in Syria as I see it: Russia is taking a long-range view and wants stability in post-ISIS Syria. France and the United States are taking the short-range view and really have no achievable plans for Syria’s future stability. Turkey appears to have given little thought to Syria’s future. Ankara may be willing to see indefinite chaos in Syria if it hurts the Assad regime on the one hand and the Kurds on the other.

The Russians may be the only party interested in the long-term political stability of Syria. There is certainly no doubt that President Putin is more determined than Western leaders to act on the fact that the various so-called moderate parties standing against the Assad regime cannot work together, and that this fault cannot be corrected by enticements...

This understanding, and not Soviet-era nostalgia, has led Russia to support the Assad regime, which possesses a working government, a standing army, and the loyalty of every religious minority group in the country...

Thus, it would appear that neither the U.S. nor France really cares about Syria as a stable nation. Once the present military capacity of ISIS is eliminated, Washington and Paris may well clandestinely continue to support a low-level civil war against the Assad regime. In this effort they will have the help of Turkey, the Kurds and Israel. The result will be ongoing decimation of the Syrian population and fragmentation of its territory...

In all of the bloodshed, population displacement and terror that has accompanied the Syrian civil war, the least-considered party has been the Syrian people and their future. ISIS, or at least its present infrastructure, will ultimately be destroyed. However, while that destruction is necessary, it is an insufficient outcome because it fails to provide long-term stability...

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Fractured Land, a Rayher/Gillis production

Visit the Fractured Land website for the entire story.

November and December Screenings:

• Dec. 1 @ 6:30 PM: Feat. Wade Davis @ Kay Meek Centre, West Vancouver, BC SOLD OUT

• Dec. 3 @ 8:15 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 6 @ 7:00 PM: Lester Centre for the Arts, Prince Rupert, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 7 @ 6:30 PM: Roi Theatre, Smithers, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 8 @ 7:00 PM: Gitanmaax Tri-town Theatre, Hazelton, BC

• Dec. 9 @ 7:00 PM: Mount Elizabeth Theatre, Kitimat, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 10 @ 7:00 PM: Sportsplex Banquet Room, Terrace, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

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