HicksBiz Blog

Category: Oil + Gas

Oil + Gas

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 »

Hicks on Biz: 5 ways to move our oil BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016

Let's be realistic. Alberta's oil will not get to "tidewater" on either of Canada's coasts, not for 10 or 20 years. Those who believe fossil fuels are part of the climate change problem are winning the political battles in Ottawa, Quebec and British Columbia. New or expanded pipeline proposals that need regulatory approvals will not get built. Environmental reviews, appeals, appeals of appeals - are now so time-consuming and so expensive as to make new pipeline construction near-impossible. The only way increased production of oil - mostly heavy or diluted bitumen oil from the oilsands - can be moved is through existing pre-approved pipelines and rail lines. There's one realistic exception: New pipeline and new rail might be possible through friendly neighbouring jurisdictions. Canada currently exports 3.7 million barrels of oil per day (bpd). The currently transport system is keeping up, barely. Growth will still happen, slower than was predicted because of low oil prices, at an added 100,0 ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Understanding carbon credits BY GRAHAM HICKS, POSTMEDIA NETWORK FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 04, 2016

Finally, through a company created to save the planet AND make money, I actually understand what “carbon credits” are all about. Airdrie-based Carbon Credit Solutions (CCS) Inc. partners up with folks (mostly farmers) who can create Alberta government-approved carbon credits. It assists in “making” these carbon credits, then buys and sells them, hopefully for a profit. Making a profit can’t be that difficult, not when the monetary value of these Alberta carbon credits should jump by 50% in a year’s time. That’s when the Notley government says it will raise the levy, basically a tax on excess carbon emission, from $20 to $30 a tonne on companies pushing too much CO2 up their smokestacks. (A tonne of CO2 is roughly the amount of CO2 an average coal-burning power plant sends up its smokestack every hour.) Companies either pay the levy, or they can purchase carbon credits from companies like CCS to offset excess CO2 emissions. The market value of a carbon cred ... Read the rest of entry »


Under Premier Rachel Notley’s Climate Leadership Plan, by government decree, all coal-burning power plants in Alberta are to be shut down by 2030, with the goal of replacing 50% to 75% of that power with renewable energy. Meanwhile, the provincial demand for electricity will grow from 14,500 megawatts (MW) today, to 17,500 MW by 2030. This is the triumph of ideology over evidence-based science. This illogical, ill-conceived government decree will result in wasting billions of dollars with no net environmental gain. Today in Alberta, there are 18 major coal-burning power generation units. Four are close to the end of their useful lives and will close within two years. Of the 14 still operating, six will still have plenty of juice left come 2030. The case for coal: coal is the cheapest, most reliable source of electricity in Alberta, crucial in keeping Alberta’s industry competitive. In 2015, it provided 43% of the province’s power. Environmentally, thanks to technological in ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Suncor’s $4.4 billion 'hostile' takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands is a good thing BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2015

Suncor’s $4.4 billion “hostile” takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. isn’t about the Canadian Oil Sands. It’s about a far more intriguing subject – control of Syncrude. Along with CNRL and Shell, Suncor and Syncrude are the Big Four of Alberta’s oil sands production companies. Syncrude is actually owned by a consortium of oil companies. Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil (Imperial Oil is owned by ExxonMobil) is a 25% shareholder. Suncor owns 12%. Syncrude’s single biggest shareholder, at 37%, is Canadian Oil Sands Ltd.  The Syncrude shares are Canadian Oil Sands Ltd’s only asset. It’s an investment company, 100% invested in its Syncrude ownership position. Let’s go back in time:  When oil sands production finally became profitable – in the mid ‘90s – the Syncrude ownership group left its management team, led by Eric Newell and then Jim Carter, alone. Newell and Carter were ahead of their time in recognizing the n ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Don’t re-invent the wheel BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015

FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015 11:36 AM MDT Dr. Andrew Leach (left), panel chair and Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, speak about the creation of an advisory panel to study the province's climate change policy at the media room at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday June 25, 2015. Ian Kucerak/Edmonton Sun Article Change text size for the story Print this story Report an error Related Stories Hicks on Biz: You can’t blame Edmonton City Council for everything Hicks on Biz: CEOs simply paid too much Hicks on Biz: Alberta recession will strike early 2016 Hicks' Weekly Dish: Gini's offers fine dining experience Links Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook! It's always more exciting and more newsworthy for an incoming government to re-invent the wheel, or, even better, contend the wheel didn't even exist.   The New Democrats have come to power ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: This spill is a disaster BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, JULY 25, 2015

FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, JULY 25, 2015 09:55 AM MDT | UPDATED: SATURDAY, JULY 25, 2015 10:00 AM MDT Crews work to clean an oil spill near Nexen's Long Lake facility by Fort McMurray. The spill was discovered by a contractor after the safety system designed to detect ruptures failed. Garrett Barry/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network Article Change text size for the story Print this story Report an error More Coverage Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) suspends 95 Nexen Energy pipelines at its Long Lake oilsands operations Related Stories Hicks Weekly Dish: Taste of Edmonton simply 'awful' Gunter: Thomas Mulcair is no friend of the west Hicks' Weekly Dish: Padmanadi a vegetarian's delight Energy minister hails Nexen announcement Hicks on Biz: Edmonton business quickly moving out of North America Paradis tight-lipped on Nexen deal Nexen pipeline failure spells big trouble Hicks' Weekly Di ... Read the rest of entry »