HicksBiz Blog

Category: Oil + Gas

Oil + Gas

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: 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 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 »

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 »

Hicks on Biz: The cost of killing coal in Alberta BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016

Sure, Alberta can transition from coal-fired electricity to renewables – wind farms, water power (hydro) and solar farms. Sure, if we’re willing to pay two to four times more for power than is now the case. The best, least-cost solutions to lower air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Alberta are all about natural gas, not renewables. The provincial government has decreed all coal-burning plants in Alberta must be shut down by 2030. Half that power, 4,200 MW, must be replaced by renewables – at this point, meaning wind farms. There’s so much here that doesn’t make sense either economically or environmentally. Shutting down older coal-burning plants makes sense. They do pollute. Three of them have effectively finished their life-cycle and will come off-line, as per federal government environment regulations, by 2019. Shutting down our newest coal-burning plants by 2030 does not make sense. They are designed to last much longer. Built with stringent p ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: One problem with Porkapalooza BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016

There’s only one problem with Porkapalooza, the successful early summer barbecue food festival held last weekend (June 17 & 18, 2016) at Clarke Park/Stadium. Meat is sold by the 30 food vendors and food trucks on site. But only the judges taste the fabulous cooking from the 42 teams entered in the barbecue competition. It’s like watching beautiful plates of food go by at a fine restaurant, with none for you: To have one’s nose scrunched up against the window pane, gazing at goodies beyond your reach: To be told as a kid that it’s “FEL” night — Family Eat Less — at gramma’s Sunday night dinner. Unexpected relatives have shown up. It was to suffer, to downright suffer, to view, smell but not taste Darren Cave’s beautiful Scotch quail eggs as they were carried from the Red Boar BBQ team’s smoker across the festival grounds to the judges’ quarters for the (optional) ground pork cooking category. Instead, I had to buy barbecue ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta is already a world leader in reducing CO2 emissions BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, MARCH 26, 2016

Okay, so we are expected to suck it up and take one for climate change. Soon, Alberta’s middle class families will be turning over hundreds more dollars a year in a carbon tax – i.e. much higher taxes on gasoline powering our vehicles and natural gas heating our homes, and who knows what else. This will raise billions of dollars, which will all be re-invested, Premier Rachel Notley promises, into ways and means of becoming a “carbon-free” province. Here’s my problem: Notley’s criticism of past Conservative governments for “not doing anything” about climate change is totally and absolutely wrong. Alberta – our research institutes, universities, energy companies and our unique Climate Change & Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) – was a global leader in reducing GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) well before Ms. Notley came to power, and continues to be a world leader. Let me count the ways. Up in the oilsands, most of the major ... Read the rest of entry »
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