February 26, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for February 26, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for February 26, 2018

Saskatchewan not committing to federal climate change plan as funding deadline looms — Micki Cowan

Saskatchewan is now the only holdout in the country not committing to the federal climate change plan, after Manitoba signed on to the Pan Canadian Framework on Climate Change on Friday. In a statement, Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said they will only consider signing on when the federal government “relents on their threat to impose a tax on our people, industries and communities.” Duncan said the infrastructure funding shouldn’t be contingent on provinces agreeing to a single policy directive, such as a carbon dioxide emissions tax. The federal government plans to implement its nation-wide carbon pricing plan by fall 2018. - CBC News  


Manitoba joins Canada climate change plan, province to get up to $67-million — CP

After more than a year of resisting Manitoba has joined the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. The province will receive up to $67-million from the federal government’s Low Carbon Economy Fund, which is to be used for projects that make buildings more energy efficient, and store or capture carbon during agricultural processes. In October, Manitoba proposed a carbon tax at $25 per tonne, which falls short of Ottawa’s 2022 target of $50 per tonne of carbon. The two governments say Manitoba’s decision to sign on to the agreement is a strong step forward, but Ottawa says it will be monitoring compliance. Manitoba Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said that joining the agreement “does not require Manitoba to adopt or agree to a federal carbon price schedule.” - National Post  


Flexibility needed from Ottawa on energy plan — editorial

The federal government’s energy demands are steep: Implement a carbon tax and phase out coal-fired power plants. For the province of New Brunswick, these are not easy tasks as the province’s largest power utility is deep in debt, and the cost of converting from coal, which provides cheap and reliable baseline power, will be great. It is expected that the made in New Brunswick carbon pricing plan will not pass Ottawa’s requirements and that the federal government will impose its own regime. New Brunswick ratepayers will be the most affected in Canada by Ottawa’s policies. For a province with cold winters and widespread use of electric baseboard heating for homes, these policies will just mean more money sunk on more expensive power. - Telegraph Journal  


Fearmongering over oil tankers isn’t the way to go — Stewart Muir

Concerns over the risk of increased tanker movements through Vancouver’s harbour often divide the cities residents. Pipeline opponents often argue that guiding an oil tanker through the harbour is a very risky activity that poses risks to sea life and B.C.’s tourism sector. Today, just one oil tanker traverses those waters each week, but the federally approved expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline will result in one tanker a day, upping the risk of a spill. No one is disputing that a major spill would be a catastrophe, nor that transitioning to a cleaner economy is a top priority for humanity. But according to statistics collected by Det Norske Veritas, a catastrophic spill could happen once every 3,000 years. With the additional tanker traffic that the expansion will bring, and investments in higher safety, the chance of an accident will rise, slightly, to one spill every 2,300 years. Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada’s West Coast since the 1930s and every single day, modern technology enables approximately 7,000 crude oil tankers to traverse ports around the world without incident. - Toronto Sun


Notley says Alberta watching B.C. court bid closely, will get no free ride on it — Dean Bennett

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she doesn’t believe British Columbia’s legal challenge to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion has merit. She says she is not sure the B.C. courts will make a ruling on the clearly established constitutional rule that the federal government has the final say on what goes into trans-boundary pipelines. Notley said that if B.C. can’t find traction on that issue, dubbed “Point Five,” it may try a different legal tack, and Alberta will be ready to respond. Notley isn’t specifying the options being looked at but has suggested there would be further retaliatory action if Alberta believes B.C. is trying to stall the project through frivolous legal challenges or other means. On Thursday, B.C. Premier John Hogan announced his government was reversing its plan to suspend taking additional oil from Alberta until it was sure B.C.’s coastline and waterways were safe from catastrophic oil spills. Horgan said he would instead go to the courts to get a legal ruling on whether B.C. has a right to take such action under the Constitution. - National Post  


The story of how B.C. supported, benefited from, then double-crossed Trans Mountain — Roland Priddle

In the early 1950s, when the Alberta oil industry was booming, incomes across the country were rising. In 1951 five companies requested a pipeline from Edmonton to the Lower Mainland of B.C. be built. Representatives from B.C. and Alberta went to Ottawa asking for its construction. After a one-day hearing, it took the chief commissioner all of three days to get out his six-page report, concurred-in by his four colleagues. The one condition was that the pipeline be completed on or before October 31, 1954. It was. And so the pipeline transported billions of barrels of oil safely and securely across the provinces. An expansion of the pipeline came in 2008, after a three-day long hearing, a 67-page report, and cabinet approval. Of course, its been a very different story since December 2013, when Trans Mountain applied to build another pipeline expansion. After hearing from over 1,600 participants and reviewing tens of thousands of pages of evidence including responses to 15,000 questions put by intervenors, the National Energy Board in May 2016 found that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in Canada’s public interest. Almost two years later the proverbial shovel has yet to stir the ground. - Vancouver Sun  


East Coast LNG projects quietly moving forward — Deborah Yedlin

Two liquified natural gas projects – Bear Head LNG and Pieridae Energy – are quietly moving forward in Nova Scotia. There is a marked absence of opposition. Canada, with its natural gas glut, must become part of the global LNG trade, which is growing at a faster rate than many expected. Bear Head LNG has received all the regulatory approvals needed to start construction on its facility designed to export eight million tonnes of LNG annually. But it has a few things to do. It needs to source natural gas from U.S. and western Canadian producers and find capacity on the New England gas pipeline system. It also has to solve its own pipeline puzzle in Canada, as there is no way to ship natural gas from Ontario to New Brunswick. But both of these LNG projects need to move forward, especially given the looming expansion of LNG exports south of the border. - Telegraph Journal   


Canada’s now losing energy sector business to Tanzania — Colin Craig

According to a reliable contact in Alberta’s energy industry, a major international energy investor had been looking at making a sizeable investment in Canada but decided not to…the company is going to invest in Tanzania instead, arguing that in Tanzania, “once they make a decision, they stick with it.” Canada should be concerned about the steady dropping of investments in Canada’s oil sector. Tanzania ranks 116 in the world on the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index. And yet, they’re apparently a more stable investment environment than Canada for the oil and gas sector. If environmentalists actually cared about the environment they wouldn’t be driving projects from Canada to countries with far less stringent environmental rules. - Toronto Sun


United States

Judge suspends construction of Louisiana oil pipeline — AP

A federal judge agreed Friday to suspend construction of a crude-oil pipeline through a Louisiana swamp, a victory for environmental groups opposed to the project. U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick granted the groups’ request for a preliminary injunction that temporarily halts the project in the Atchafalaya Basin until their lawsuit is resolved. The judge’s two-page order bars the companies building the Bayou Bridge pipeline “from taking any further action on the project” pending a trial on the merits of the case. It wasn’t immediately clear if the order is limited to work in the basin or applies to the entire length of the 162-mile-long pipeline from Lake Charles to St. James Parish. “The judge did not issue any opinion explaining her order. Until such time as that is issued, and we can review, we will have no further comment,” Alexis Daniel, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, one of the companies building the pipeline, said in an email. Energy Transfer Partners built the Dakota Access pipeline. - Wall Street Journal  


Coal jobs get a boost – from exports — Kris Maher

Miners in Indiana and other states are getting a small lift from global markets: American companies are shipping more coal to Europe and Asia, helping to stop the years long drop in the number of U.S. mining jobs. The latest job increase runs counter to the long-term decline in coal used to generate electricity in the U.S., as coal-fired power plants are closed in favor of plants that burn cheap, abundant and cleaner natural gas. Exports of U.S. thermal coal used by utilities rose 117% to 42 million tons last year. The stronger export market is translating into a bump in coal-mining jobs. Last year, coal companies added about 1,200 jobs, a trickle compared with the 60,000 workers who lost mining jobs between 2011 and 2016. Coal producer Alliance Resource Partners LP plans to reopen an underground mine in rural Gibson County, Ind. that the company shut in 2015. The mine employed 417 workers in late 2014. - Wall Street Journal   



Queensland premier wants more gas exploration — Rosie Lewis

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged the Turnbull government to invest in new pipelines to encourage gas exploration, after U.S. companies warned of the need to open up more gas reserves in Australia. Ms. Palaszczuk said American businesses delivered “key messages” to release new gas reserves during talks at the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington, attended by Malcolm Turnbull. She met ConocoPhillips chief executive Ryan Lance and Dow Chemical chief Andrew Liveris, who has openly criticized Australia for exporting gas at the expense of the domestic market. “It’s time the Turnbull government stepped up and invested in some pipelines and encouraged gas exploration in Queensland after focusing on southern states in last year’s federal budget,” she said. The U.S. companies also noted gas moratoriums in Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Australia does not export gas to the U.S. but there are exploration and production companies on home soil seeking more reserves. - The Australian  


Gas customers to get more clout in pipeline price negotiations — Angela Macdonald-Smith

Gas pipeline owners face a further toughening-up of rules around tariff negotiations with customers under proposals intended to help lower prices. The recommendations, being released on Tuesday by the Australian Energy Market Commission, represent the latest move driven by governments to address the unaffordability of gas for some east coast manufacturers and other industrial energy users. Under the latest proposals, more pipeline services would be covered by formal access arrangements, contract terms would be "more balanced" while the arbitration system to be used when negotiations fail would be beefed up, the AEMC said. New ways would be introduced to trade unused pipeline capacity, while both buyers and sellers would have access to better information. AEMC chairman John Pierce said that if implemented in full, the reforms would make it easier and cheaper to move gas around Australia, getting gas to where it is needed and most valued, and helping keep prices for both gas and electricity as low as possible. - Australian Financial Review  


'Gold-plated' energy market seen as huge risk of National Energy Guarantee — Angela Macdonald Smith

Worries about higher costs and reduced competition have dominated the debate in a public forum on the government's proposed National Energy Guarantee, with miners, manufacturers and household energy users all voicing fears that electricity prices will only continue to increase. The complex policy sets the scene for a similar "gold-plating" of the energy supply system to ensure reliability as occurred in previous years in the electricity grid that pushed up power prices for consumers, said Mark Grenning, director of policy and regulation at the Energy Users Association of Australia. "The overriding impression is of a very costly implementation process and governance prices," Mr. Grenning said at the forum, which was briefly interrupted by environmental protesters. “There is a concern that we end up with a gold-plated market solution in the same way we ended up with a gold-plated network. We must learn from the past that this is not the end result." That concern was echoed by Ed McManus, chief executive of junior retailer Powershop, who said the NEG would need strong safeguards to prevent extra costs. "We just cannot afford to add extra costs into the system," Mr. McManus said. - Australian Financial Review