HicksBiz Blog

Category: Oil + Gas

Oil + Gas

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's economy not too hot, not too cool BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2015

This is extraordinary. A year ago, the global price of oil plummeted – from $100 (US) a barrel to $50 to $60, where it seems to have come to rest. Ours is an energy-based economy. Every other time oil and/or natural gas prices fell, in 1983, 1998 and 2009, Metropolitan Edmonton suffered. Unemployment rates jumped, jobs dried up, housing prices fell, folks left town. But it’s been a year now, and we’ve scarce felt this oil price meltdown! Unemployment is up a bit, but just as many folks – 745,000 of us – are working as was the case during the last boom. New houses are being built and purchased at a near record clip. Companies may not be hiring in droves, there’s not much in the way of lay-offs. We’ve dodged some serious bullets. But how much longer? Don’t kid yourselves. Edmonton remains a government and public sector town. Combined, education (42,000 jobs), health care/social services (82,500 jobs) and public administration (39,000 jobs) mak ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Odds still on long-term Alberta prosperity BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015

Spread out those Tarot cards, old gypsy queen, and tell us whither goest oil and gas. Are we doomed to $50 or lower oil prices forever? Will excess greenhouse gases caused by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas raise the world’s temperatures until all is parched desert and the oceans are metres higher due to polar ice melt? To save the planet, as per American President Barack Obama’s line of thought, must the world end its reliance on fossil fuels - within our children’s lifetime? If demand for oil and gas dwindles, will Alberta turn into a have-not province? Will 100,000 young people a year leave for greener pastures in (choke) Ontario and Quebec? The gypsy queen, like everybody else, does not know the future. But logic and clear thinking suggest Obama is likely wrong, that the odds are excellent for long-term prosperity in this province, based on environmentally sound oil and gas production, based on sound, long-term, provincial government planning and policy. Her ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Hey, media, stop picking on Big Oil BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: FRIDAY, JULY 18, 2014

It’s a hoary old cliché, but so true.

In journalism, there’s no such thing as objectivity.

Bias hangs out on every corner.

It’s so darned obvious in the mountains of verbiage expended on .02% of Canada’s boreal forest surrounding Fort McMurray, the oilsands.

Note the bias: I throw in the fact the oilsands take up less than one-fifth of one percent of the boreal forest. The underlying message: The oilsands are NOT destroying Canada’s wilderness.

That one little fact, slipped in, pretty well tells you where this commentator is coming from.

The reality is this city, hence yours and my livelihoods, is highly dependent on oilsands generated wealth. So I support oilsands development – as long as the environmental rules are followed, and the rules get tougher to the point of miniscule or zero tolerance when technology permits.

Most commentators will not admit to a bias. But it’s so easy to tell.

Those adamantly opposed to oilsands development call the oilsands the “tar sands.”

Gee, what was your first clue? Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Environmental awareness has arrived BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2014

Something’s happened out there in the past year.

Sustainability, environmental awareness, saving the planet has truly arrived.

The scoffers are getting older and retiring. The doubters are coming around – maybe not on global warming, but certainly on recycling, waste reduction and conservation in general. For Gen Y, green is a given.

“Social licence” is now one powerful business tool. Without societal acceptance, mega-construction projects cannot move ahead.

We have in our midst a young social entrepreneur who is either a world-class visionary using business to create a sustainable planet or he’s one amazing promoter. Or maybe he’s a little of both.

Joey Hundert, 33, is founder and CEO of both Sustainival, a travelling midway with all its rides running on diesel fuel made from used cooking oils and Sustainitech, a company working in partnership with the Wood Buffalo regional municipality to grow food and farmed fish in self-contained, insulated shipping containers using processes known as aquaponics and aeroponics.

Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Ontario's green fiasco is a lesson to us all, BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2013

Ontario is reeling. The “Ontario Green Energy Program,” introduced four years ago by then-Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government, has proved to be an utter disaster. A public inquiry has brought to light the sheer size of this white elephant. The consequence of going all-out green will cost the average Ontario family an extra $636 a year by 2018 , a 42% jump in electricity bills over the next five years. Independent analysts are pegging the additional costs at $16 billion today, $23 billion by 2016. This in a province that is already $273 billion in debt! “Trying to save the future has created an economic disaster in the here and now, for our children and our grandchildren,” summed up one commentator. Ontario industry is paying more for power than almost any other jurisdiction in North America. Any wonder manufacturing and food processing companies are leaving Ontario? Any wonder it’s so tough to find a job in Ontario? I don’t preten ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Rah rah oilsands!: EDMONTON SUN, Saturday Nov. 22, 2013

Bottleneck, what bottleneck? If anybody has concerns about pipeline capacity from the oilsands out to the world, breathe easy. In the last few weeks, the GO button has been pushed on four major new oilsands projects that will bring another 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) of bitumen on stream by 2017. You think those dudes would invest the $10 billion or more it costs per mine, if they had the least doubt about getting their product to market? You think shareholders would approve? Where there’s a will, there’s a way Even without the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipeline projects, Canada’s two biggest pipeline builders will add another 2 million bpd capacity within three to four years. TransCanada and Enbridge are expanding existing American pipelines and converting existing natural gas pipelines to send bitumen/crude oil to Eastern Canada for refining, domestic consumption or export. Other companies are sniffing out new pipeline opportunities from the oilsands northwest to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The oil biz - Stand up and fight! Originally published Edmonton Sun, Oct. 26, 2013

Last week, I approached a friend, a field manager for a small oil producer in rural Alberta with a few hundred wells. How about a Hicks on Biz story on the company, I suggested, a column that could tell the general public the real story about the industry that’s the backbone of Alberta’s economy. Not a sensationalized report about leaks or contamination or pollution, but a ground-level look at an industry that’s among the cleanest of its kind in the world. I could witness first-hand the process of going back to old wells, re-boring, drilling horizontally, and the fracking that has bent New Brunswick aboriginals all out of shape. I could report back to the general public on environmental improvements, on ever-improving technology, on the industry’s job creation and so on. Nope. The oil company’s head office didn’t want any publicity. No matter how sympathetic the journalist, they feared what might be written in the comments section of any on-line story - th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: PTI Group a regional success story - originally published Edmonton Sun, Sept 27, 2013

Quick hospitality quiz. Where is the world’s fifth biggest hotel? Hint. Not far from Edmonton. What company owns this hotel, and is Canada’s largest hotel chain owner/operator? Hint. It’s headquartered in Edmonton. Why is this company the single biggest buyer of yogurt in Canada? Hint. It feeds an awful lot of people every day. The company is PTI Group Inc. a subsidiary of Houston-based Oil States Inc. It may be a subsidiary – PTI is headquartered out of a former Costco warehouse on the south side of Edmonton - but it’s a mighty subsidiary. PTI’s biggest hotel is Wapasu Lodge, a two hour drive north of Fort McMurray, in the middle of nowhere, but just a short drive down a private road to Kearl Lake, Imperial Oil’s massive new oilsand mining operation. At 5,400 rooms, it truly is the fifth biggest hotel in the world. PTI buys more yogurt than any other Canadian customer because it’s a lunch-bag favourite for the 19,000 plus tradespeo ... Read the rest of entry »

Our Oil Sands Are Clean! Hicks on Biz column originally published Edmonton Sun May 25, 2013

Nothing is more irksome than the Keystone XL pipeline protesters calling our oil sands oil the “dirtiest oil on the planet” or Al Gore claiming there’s no such thing as ethical oil, only “dirty and dirtier oil.” For two years, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the oil sands, pollution and technology. I have reached quite the opposite conclusion of Mr. Gore. If the technological advances in the oil sands continue at the current pace, if energy producers continue to invest in oil sands’ research at current levels, if provincial and federal regulators continue to raise the bar to ensure world-leading environmental standards, oil-sands oil will be one of the world’s cleanest energy sources. If a proposed new factory or electricity plant put out a call for the best environmentally friendly fuel source – be it wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, natural gas or oil - our oil-sands oil will soon be competitive at a fraction of the c ... Read the rest of entry »

The greening of the oil sands: Presentation by HIcks on Biz columnist Graham HIcks of the Edmonton Sun to the Sunrise Rotary Club of Edmonton, May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013 The greening of the oil sands Presentation to the Sunrise Rotary Club of Edmonton by Graham Hicks Thanks so much for the invitation to speak to your club this morning. Since retiring from the Edmonton Sun as “Hicks on Six” two years ago, I  embarked on a second career, of business journalism. That new focus rapidly read to a new obsession: Studying and reading everything I can get my hands on about the oil sands, pollution and technology. Given the oil sands are the single greatest driver of our economy, the obsession has been a good fit. I think there’s a crying need out there: To have non-partisan, independent, plain-speaking journalists not only defending the oil sands, but extolling its virtues.  In short, I hope to be an evangelist for the GREENING OF THE OIL SANDS. Our detractors, such as the Keystone XL pipeline protesters who call our oil sands bitumen the “dirtiest oil on the planet” or Al Gore claiming there&rsqu ... Read the rest of entry »