March 20, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for March 20, 2018

Affordable Energy News Service for March 20, 2018

'People are shaking their heads': record highs on the way for B.C. gas prices, analyst warns — ­CP

Drivers in British Columbia should brace for record high gasoline prices this summer and the financial pain has the potential to spread across the country, says a petroleum industry analyst. Dan McTeague of the online tech company GasBuddy predicts that beginning in April and continuing to September, gasoline prices across much of B.C.'s South Coast will hover around $1.60 a litre. He blames the hike on high demand and chronically short supply, made even worse by Friday's announcement that the Olympic pipeline that distributes gasoline throughout Washington and Oregon will be taken off-line for four or five days of maintenance. Prices across Vancouver hit about $1.55 over the weekend, while Victoria remained around $1.40, but McTeague warns southern Vancouver Island could see an eight-cent-a-litre leap as the ripple from short supplies and climbing local taxes spreads. The high for a litre of gasoline in Metro Vancouver was set on June 22, 2014, when the price was just under $1.56. McTeague said some analysts fear higher prices will spread east. - CBC News


Twinning Kinder Morgan pipeline will lead to big drop in gas prices, expert says — Matt Robinson

Blame for near-record high gas prices in the Vancouver area rests with a chronic supply shortage made worse by concurrent maintenance work on a Burnaby refinery and gas infrastructure in Washington state, says one industry expert. Half of the region’s fuel supply comes from those sources, with the remainder making its way from Alberta through Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, said Dan McTeague of the online tech company GasBuddy. When asked what could be done to improve the region’s fuel supply, McTeague said twinning the controversial line could be the only viable option short of knocking on the doors of American suppliers. From McTeague’s perspective, neither shipping additional gas by boat nor delivering it via the already overstretched rail system were good options to boost local supply, and it was unlikely a new local refinery would be feasible. - Vancouver Sun


The coming carbon tax showdown — Margaret Wente

Not so long ago, Justin Trudeau’s energy strategy looked so simple. It rested on a Grand Bargain. Canada would build a pipeline or two, and the citizens would do penance in the form of carbon taxes that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Everybody – environmentalists, the oil industry and right-thinking Canadians – would be happy. Today, that bargain is looking mighty shaky. Opponents of Trans Mountain aren’t interested in it. Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley will probably lose her job next year because she has delivered carbon taxes but no pipeline. Her nemesis, Jason Kenney, is planning to abolish the carbon tax as soon as he beats her (as is likely). He points out that it has utterly failed to secure a social licence for pipelines. “Very expensive political theatre for Albertans,” he calls it. And now, the anti-carbon-tax crusader Doug Ford could well become premier of Ontario. It’s hard to see how Mr. Trudeau will impose his grand bargain on the provinces if Alberta and Ontario are in open revolt. - Globe and Mail


Jason Kenney's relationship with carbon taxes: it's complicated — Robson Fletcher & Brookes DeCillia

It's the fiercest political debate in the province. In tweets, news releases, speeches and advertising, the United Conservative Party hammers away at the governing NDP over what they describe as the "job-killing carbon tax." The UCP launched a new ad campaign in early January targeting Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan and promising to scrap the carbon tax it imposed. The party also aims to "vigorously oppose the imposition of any federal carbon tax," according to its proposed policies. And in the last few days, UCP Leader Jason Kenney has called for a carbon tax referendum. But — and this is a big but — Kenney says he actually does support a price on carbon. He would just do it differently than the NDP. Here's the deal. Kenney wants to get rid of the carbon tax — the thing we all pay at the pumps and on our gas bills. In addition, he wants to get rid of the Carbon Competitiveness Incentives (CCI). That's a new NDP government program that applies only to large, industrial emitters. - CBC News  


Doug Ford declines requests to explain his ‘nonsense’ $469-million estimate — Trish Audette-Longo

If elected premier of Ontario, new Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford says he will get rid of the carbon cap-and-trade system and make sure millions of dollars stay in the province rather than heading for California or Quebec. "This cap and trade, we’re giving $469-million to California of our hard-earned tax dollars. No one wants to do that, that’s a bunch of nonsense, we’re keeping that $469-million right here in Ontario," Ford told CTV News in Toronto in the days after he was named leader of the party. With cap and trade, companies whose greenhouse gas emissions fall below a set cap receive credits and companies that emit more can buy credits. This system puts a price on the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and uses a market mechanism to change how large companies behave. National Observer reached out to both the provincial government and Ford's campaign to explain his $469-million figure. Ford's team did not respond to multiple requests by press time. - The National Observer  


Nothing revenue-neutral about the PC carbon tax — Dan Lett

Manitobans desperately need clarity about the Progressive Conservative government’s carbon tax. Instead, what we are getting is (to borrow from Sir Winston Churchill) a home-grown riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The recent provincial budget should — emphasis squarely on should — have been the opportunity for the government to reveal what it estimates revenues will be from the $25-per-tonne carbon tax, and what that money would be used for. What we got instead was a series of often-contradictory policies and announcements that raise concerns, once again, that Premier Brian Pallister’s government can’t tell us what they’re doing because they may not know themselves. - Winnipeg Free Press


Why buy an electric car? — when you can wash away your carbon footprint at the gas station — Geoffrey Manning

You could soon be able to wash away your carbon footprint at your gas station. Royal Dutch Shell Plc is rolling out a program in Europe that will allocate as much as 2 cents per litre from the sale of gasoline at its stations to replant forests. The initiative could come to Canada soon, as the company plans to roll it out to the general public. Chief executive Ben van Beurden says the company first piloted the project in the U.K. and the Netherlands. It would allow consumers to “offset all of these carbon emissions at extremely low carbon prices,” the CEO told energy executives at the IHS CERA conference in Houston earlier this month. “This means that everybody who has a car can actually be carbon free – they don’t have to buy an electric car,” said van Beurden, who annoyed his oil and gas colleagues last year when he said the next car he purchases would be electric. - National Post


Many First Nations eager to play role in natural gas development – Bob Zimmer

Recently, LNG Canada reaffirmed its commitment to build its proposed liquified natural gas export terminal with plans to start construction in 2018. Not only is this great news for British Columbia and Canada, it also highlights that there is a growing number of First Nations in British Columbia that support the responsible development of natural resources. As Ellis Ross, Skeena MLA and former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation has put it in the past: “For us to be truly successful, we need to see our people among the first in line for the permanent skilled jobs – pipefitters, electricians, millwrights – that will come if LNG projects move ahead. There is continued frustration in many First Nations communities when natural resource projects do not go ahead. - Alaska Highway News  


New Brunswick Power proposes rate hike and special levy – Michael Robinson

New Brunswick Power is floating another potential hike – a levy to reclaim costs for special weather events. Citing last year’s ice storm, the utility is hoping for a process to recover costs outside the control of the utility’s ability to manage. It is outlined in evidence submitted as part of the utility’s general rate application. This “mechanism” wrote NB Power, would allow the utility to apply to the board to recover from costs stemming from uncontrollable and distinct incidents or circumstances, such as hurricanes and ice storms. - The Telegraph Journal  


Energy minister Glenn Thibeault says he has no control over proposed hydro pole fees — staff writer

The Minister of Energy says there isn't much he can do about a possible increase to hydro pole attachment fees in Ontario. Last week, CBC News reported a 133% increase is being proposed by the Ontario Energy Board. Internet and cable providers pay a fee to hydro companies to attach their wires to hydro poles. Providers have formed the Ontario Broadband Coalition to fight the rate hike as they say the expense would be one they'd be forced to pass on to customers. Energy minister Glenn Thibeault says there isn't much he can do. "They can send those [letters] to me but this is an OEB decision and as the Ontario Energy Board is our economic regulator it is not something that I can say yay or nay to," he said. "They make their decision. We don't overrule the economic regulator." The coalition says if the hydro pole fee goes through they may be forced to halt broadband expansion plans to rural and remote communities. - CBC News


Town of Antigonish rejects request to lift fracking ban — Anjuli Patil

The Town of Antigonish won't be joining the Municipality of the District of Guysborough in asking the province to remove its ban on fracking any time soon. Council voted unanimously Monday night against the request by Guysborough, which had previously asked Nova Scotia communities to urge the province to lift the ban. "I think it sends a very strong message to those industry groups pushing right now that Nova Scotians still feel very strongly about fracking," said Patrick Yancey, an Antigonish resident and spokesperson for the Antigonish Blue Dot movement, an environmental group against fracking. The Municipality of the District of Guysborough wrote letters to all municipalities in the Strait area asking that they contact the premier to repeal the fracking ban. So far, the Town of Mulgrave has agreed. According to a recent Energy Department analysis, Nova Scotia has between $20-billion and $60-billion worth of onshore natural gas resources. Most of those resources are in shale gas, which would require hydraulic fracturing to recover. - CBC News  


Washington state 'allied' with B.C. on Trans Mountain pipeline concerns — CP

The governor of Washington says his state is "allied'' with British Columbia in questioning whether the Trans Mountain pipeline should be expanded. The project poses a threat to waters off the West Coast, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday at a meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan and officials from Oregon and California. The state is looking at marine safety laws that would help mitigate the impact of a tanker spill, he added. "We are hopeful that the premier's efforts to allow the voices of his citizens to be listened to will be successful, because it is very much in common with our citizens,'' Inslee said, adding that residents in his state recently rejected proposals for both coal and oil ports. – CBC News


First carbon credits quantified, verified and certified in Newfoundland and Labrador for sale – staff writer

Newfoundland and Labrador’s first 50,000 carbon credits will soon be on the auction block. Local environmental firm Sharp Management quantified, verified and acquired certification for the credits through partnerships with the towns of Stephenville and Appleton-Glenwood to design and implement engineered wetlands to treat sewage waste water. A carbon credit is a certificate that allows a company, individual or country to produce and emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. - The Telegram  


TransCanada says U.S. pipeline tax change won’t have material impact on operations — CP

TransCanada Corp. says a recent U.S. tax ruling that eliminated a tax break for owners of certain interstate pipelines will have no material impact on its operations. Shares in TransCanada had come under pressure following the decision. The statement by the company follows a similar comment by Enbridge Inc. last week that said it did not expect a material change due to the ruling. The decision by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to no longer allow master limited partnerships to recover an income tax allowance from cost of service tariffs came in response to a 2016 ruling that found its long-standing tax policy could result in double recovery of costs. TransCanada says about half of its U.S. natural gas pipelines 2018 revenues come from negotiated or discounted tariffs and therefore would not be materially impacted by the regulator's actions. - Globe and Mail  


United States

US government accuses Russia of hacking into energy infrastructure — Jeff St. John

The U.S. government has officially accused Russia of an already well-reported effort to gain access to the country’s power grid, natural-gas and water pipelines, and other critical infrastructure control systems. But it hasn’t yet found any evidence that they’ve achieved those goals. On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a joint alert on “Russian government actions targeting U.S. Government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.” The attacks, first reported in July 2017, started by targeting the business computing and information technology (IT) networks of power plants and other critical assets in these industries. But this was only the first part of a plan to gain access to operation technology (OT) systems, such as control systems for nuclear power plants and conventional fossil-fuel-fired turbines, that could be manipulated to cause equipment failures or blackouts. - GreenTech Media


Saudi Arabia's nuclear energy ambitions to attract scrutiny during White House visit — Natasha Turak

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in Washington D.C. Tuesday, and will likely talk to President Donald Trump about something the Saudis have wanted for a long time: a nuclear energy program. The Saudi pursuit of nuclear energy has long made many observers nervous, but it grabbed headlines last weekend after Bin Salman told CBS News that if Iran were to build a nuclear bomb, so would Saudi Arabia. "This is the Saudis saying openly what we have known for a long time," said Ryan Turner, senior risk analyst at consultancy PGI Group. "Saudi Arabia's desire for a civilian nuclear program cannot be separated from the rivalry with Iran." - CNBC  



Gas firms angry over 10-year fracking ban in part of South Australia — Simon Evans

Resources industry figures are angry over new Premier Steven Marshall's plans to impose a 10-year ban on fracking in a 21,000-square-kilometre region in South Australia's south-east, and say it undermines his mantra that the state is open for business. Chairman of ASX-listed Lakes Oil, Chris Tonkin, said the ban was based on "stupidity" and was another example of politics overtaking scientific evidence and common sense. Lakes Oil, part-owned by billionaire Gina Rinehart, has been a vigorous opponent of a ban on unconventional gas exploration in Victoria, and Mr Tonkin said it was similarly bad policy in South Australia. - Australian Financial Review