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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

HICKS ON BIZ Some big ifs in pipeline expansion BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 01, 2016

Congratulations to Premier Rachel Notley for her part – acknowledged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – in securing federal approval for doubling the oil-carrying capacity of both the Trans Mountain pipeline to the west coast, and Enbridge’s Line 3 to the American midwest. IF – and that’s a huge if – the pipelines actually get built, another million barrels of oil a day can be shipped from Alberta. IF – and that’s a minuscule if incoming American President Donald Trump approves the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast refineries, another 800,000 barrels a day can be exported. The ability to export another 1.8 million barrels a day means the oil industry and the province can continue a slow, measured, environmentally friendly expansion of oil and gas production for several decades. The big IF is getting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built and operational, given the intense opposition on the B.C. Lower Mainland ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: How to save the world and still keep our coal industry BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2016

A few weeks ago, a simple question was posed in this column. What’s the most cost-effective way for Alberta to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (and other atmospheric pollutants) by 30% by 2030? Is it by ending all coal-generated electricity (currently producing 60% of Alberta’s power) by 2030 and replacing it with renewable power (wind and solar farms) and natural gas, as is planned by the New Democratic provincial government? Nobody is even pretending this is a least-cost model. To shut down six coal plants prematurely, the province has just  announced it will compensate three power companies to the tune of $1.36 billion ($97 million a year over 14 years). The money is to come from the impending provincial carbon tax.  Would it be cheaper to meet environmental targets by replacing all coal plants with natural gas? Would a “blend” of coal, natural gas and renewables make the most economic sense? I had never seen any cost comparisons – at leas ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Trump could be good for Alberta BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2016

Please, no more hysterics. The sky is not falling. American President-elect Donald Trump could be very good for Alberta. Did we happen to mention the Keystone XL pipeline? Alberta’s biggest challenge is not climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but the need for new pipelines to get our stranded oil and natural gas to market. Outgoing American President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline – carrying up to 1 million barrels of dilbit (diluted bitumen) a day from the oilsands to under-utilized upgraders/heavy-oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Trump has promised to reverse that decision as soon as possible. Trump believes fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in providing cheap energy to America and the world. Trump will take a very different environmental stance than Obama, with an underlying assumption that environmental concerns can be met without excessive government interference and subsidy. Trump will embrace the “greening” of ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton hotelier not spooked by economy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2016

How interesting that it took a 69-year-old independent businessman to build the first new major hotel in downtown Edmonton in 25 years, the 255-room (including 32 suites), 12-storey Hyatt Place at 9576 Jasper Avenue.   How interesting that Prem Singhmar was willing to break new ground, to be the first developer to make a major ($55 million) investment in The Quarters, the City of Edmonton’s vision for the Downtown East. Hyatt Place is one block east of the Shaw Conference Centre. And the new hotel has opened in the middle of a province-wide severe economic downturn. Prem professes to no particular financial acumen, but his track record is one of successful real estate and land development, one project after another. Starting with a chicken farm near Redwater on his arrival from India, via Libya, in 1985, Prem’s UAM Enterprises now consists of hotels, commercial and residential buildings and construction throughout Metropolitan Edmonton, plus agricultural holdings. “I am n ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Lowering our green house gases will cost us how much? BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2016

* * * In the Alberta government’s climate change/carbon tax/phase out coal/renewable energy debate, I have never seen an objective analysis of how Alberta could meet its lower greenhouse gas (GHG) goals as cheaply as possible with the least possible damage to the province economy. We know the New Democrats’ end goal. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed Canada to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by one-third, from 2013’s 726 Mt (million tonnes) to 523 Mt by 2030. So must Premier Rachel Notley do the same, reducing Alberta’s GHG emissions by approximately a third from 2013’s 267 Mt to 193 Mt by 2030. We know however, that this New Democrat government is in love with renewables, regards coal as the face of evil, dislikes oil, and only grudgingly puts up with natural gas. But the question to be asked – the logical, rational question – is this: What combination of coal, natural gas, oil, renewables and conservation would reduce provincial GHG ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sloppy Hoggs is in excellent hands BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2016

Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus 9563-118 Ave. 780-477-2408 sloppyhoggsbbq.com Tuesday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Mondays Dinner for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $24; fully loaded, $50 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns When a top-notch independent restaurant changes ownership, as happened earlier this year with the popular southern barbecue Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus on 118th Avenue, you worry. Will quality drop? Will the ribs be as expected? The good news is the new owners recognized a good thing when they saw it. The sale included everything down to the meat smokers and Sloppy Hoggs’ BBQ recipes. Nothing has changed other than a few more additions to the menu. Six of us descended on Sloppy Hoggs this past weekend, hungry and ready to chow down. The first impression was promising – the restaurant was bustling on a Sunday evening with several birthday parties in pro ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Rogers Place helping Edmonton take back the night BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2016

Wednesday evening I am sitting in one of my favourite downtown spots, Bodega Tapas & Wine Bar at Sabor. It’s an hour before the Oilers’ first game of the season in the spanking-new Rogers Place just up the street. I have sat in this same chair many an evening, with its fine view of a massive concrete wall that is the west end of the Edmonton City Centre. Tonight is different. Instead of a pedestrian passing by every 10 minutes, as often staggering as walking, the sidewalks are alive with people who have packed nearby taverns and eateries and are now walking to Rogers Place. For once, the down ’n’ outers do not dominate the downtown come nightfall. For once, there are far more “normal people”. For at least 30 years, the reality of the downtown after dark has been at best uninviting and at worse downright scary. It’s been a ratio game. Less–fortunate Edmontonians – the panhandlers, the intoxicated and generally tough-looking characte ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Carbon tax a colossal waste of money BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2016

No matter that Canada’s contribution to global warming is negligible. No matter that China, India and the USA are the culprits, not Canada. No matter the consequences, the carbon tax is going to happen in Alberta. On January 1, the carbon tax will bump up the cost of gasoline by 4.5 cents a litre, diesel by 5.4 cents a litre, home heating costs by $1 a gigajoule. In winter, my 2,100 sq. ft. home burns eight to 10 gigajoules of natural gas per month. The carbon tax will add to most of your purchases. Municipalities will pass on carbon taxes in higher property taxes. Grocery stores will pass on the added cost of transporting food. Carbon taxes won’t go away. Those two great world saviors Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau will keep raising the carbon tax every year for the next six years. By rough calculation, the carbon tax on gasoline will be around 17 cents a litre by 2022. This tax grab is the equivalent, respected Calgary economist Jack Mintz says, of a 3% provincial sales tax. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Predicting the best-and-worst-case scenarios of the Alberta NDP's energy policy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Too late to turn back.   The Alberta ND government has irrevocably committed the province to a profound change in electricity generation, from coal, natural gas and some wind to no coal, more natural gas, and massive new renewable energy projects – more wind farms, big solar farms, on-site solar and run-of-river hydro. The government’s self-declared goal is to have 30% of Alberta’s power generation coming from renewables by 2030. This fundamental shift is as expected from a government with a radically different mind-set than the old. The “Alberta Advantage” will no longer be measured in economic terms but in ecological ones. Under past Conservative governments, Alberta was the lowest-cost province in which to do business. The New Democrats want Alberta to be the cleanest province in which to do business. So let’s polish up the ol’ crystal ball, and predict best-and-worst-case scenarios of this determined effort that will hit home in January when th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: A new kind of oil boom BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2016

Ever since the world price of oil crashed and burned in July of 2014 and remains a smouldering wreck of over-supply, Alberta’s power brokers have talked about economic diversification, talked about weaning us off our love affair with oil + gas, talked about finding a new lover to shower us with the same kind of wealth.   The problem has been that nobody knew quite what to do. Even if a plan comes together, growing dynamic, profitable, job-creating companies and new industries is a long and arduous process, fraught with peril. . But now future industrial possibilities are emerging that actually sound like decent bets. It’s about a host of futuristic non-polluting products that can be made from oil; products that are fast becoming cheaper, lighter alternatives to metals used in manufacturing. In a talk to the University of Alberta Energy Club, Alberta economic thinker and industry strategist Dr. Richard Dixon made a gloomy but realistic case for an enduring global slowdown in dem ... Read the rest of entry »