HicksBiz Blog

Category: Oil + Gas

Oil + Gas

Hicks on Biz: Climate change — the Alberta solution By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 15, 2020

The virus may dominate the headlines, but Alberta’s biggest battle still looms. If we do not gain the “social licence” to produce environmentally acceptable oil and gas, we might as well pack up and leave Alberta now rather than later. We face a staggering enemy, outnumbered even within Canada by those in provinces like  Quebec, Ontario, B.C. Those who believe fossil fuels must be phased out and replaced by renewable energy if the Earth is not to turn into one giant, overheated Sahara Desert. It is hugely frustrating, because Alberta is a world leader in “de-carbonizing” our oil and gas production, in creating products from fossil fuels WITHOUT releasing CO2 into the air. There is a little snowball happening, about 45 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. STORY CONTINUES BELOW A little snowball that must grow into an avalanche of positive proof: That the processing of oil and gas can be as pure and clean as driven snow. Coming up shortly are anno ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: What’s going to happen after COVID-19? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 17, 2020

The near empty parking lot at the Premium Outlet Centre shopping mall near the International Airport in Edmonton, April 17, 2020, is an indication of the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia What’s going to happen? After the pandemic, will recent graduates find decent jobs? Will you have enough money to cover the mortgage and utilities? If not, will the banks/government cut you some slack? Will seniors receive the same government pensions as in the past? Could private pension payments be slashed? If I’m a businessperson, can I ride out the storm … or does all the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put into this enterprise end in bankruptcy … unless the government somehow bails me out? STORY CONTINUES BELOW Let’s not kid ourselves. The economy — thanks to COVID-19, rock-bottom oil prices and wanton over-spending by Ottawa and Alberta in the recent past — is in horrible shape. It’s worse than ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Out of crisis arises opportunity By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 10, 2020

Downtown Edmonton is seen from Ada Boulevard near Rundle Park in Edmonton on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia, file The glass is half-full, not half-empty. Never waste a good crisis. From the ashes, the phoenix is reborn. Positives can arise from this unprecedented economic emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, impossibly low oil prices and forever-delayed resource development. The biggest positive? A shattering of conventionality. For decades, Alberta made half-hearted efforts to innovate and diversify beyond oil and gas. It never really happened.  It was too easy to make a ton of money from oil and gas. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Today, these last few weeks, it has hit home. Either we drastically change, or we die. Every other jurisdiction in Canada, and around the world, faces a similar challenge. If we are all rebuilding from ground zero, Alberta looks really good. Our population is young, strong and talented, supported by excellent educatio ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Lots more oil still to come By Graham Hicks, first published Edmonton Sun, February 28, 2020

The Aspen Oil Sands Project, Imperial Oil’s $2.6 billion, new in-situ oilsands project will eventually produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). It is under construction. Foster Creek Oil Sands Expansion Project — Cenovus — $2 billion, adding 40,000 bpd — under construction. Lewis/Meadow Creek East/Meadow Creek West SAGD Oil Sands Projects — Suncor — $2 billion, around 200,000 bpd from different projects — proposed. Narrows Lake In Situ Oil Sands Project — Cenovus — $1.6 billion — 130,000 bpd — proposed, currently deferred. What is our problem here? Why the tears and teeth-gnashing over the indefinite postponement of the TECK Frontier open-pit bitumen mining proposal in the oilsands, when environmentally acceptable in-situ oilsands projects are lined up around the block? STORY CONTINUES BELOW A quick oilsands refresher: There are two ways of extracting heavy oil (bitumen) from the oilsands, open-pit mining a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why another oilsands surface mine? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 3, 2020

From left, Kyran Auger, of Keepers of the Water, Bonwen Tucker, Oil Change International, Batul Gulamhusein of Climate Justice Alberta and Nigel Henri Robinson with Beaverhillls Warriors held a press event to call on the Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to reject the proposal and recommended approval of the Teck Frontier Mine in Northern Alberta on November 22, 2019. Photo by Shaughn Butts / PostmediaShaughn Butts / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Why would the Alberta government be so damned stupid as to propose another surface mine in the oilsands? No matter the science, the optics stink. Yet another vast, oily, tailings pond, huge intrusions into Mother Earth, vast disruptions of the beaver, the fox, the bear and the caribou. All the oilsands stuff that the Rest of Canada hates … and many Albertans are equally uneasy about. The federal Liberal government is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To that end, its core political support is near 100 per cent in ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Who needs pipelines? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 8, 2019

(This is the last of a Hicks on Biz series on Alberta’s economic future if new pipelines are not built.) For decades, Alberta’s wealth was criticized for being harvested, 100%, from the low-hanging fruit of oil and gas extraction and processing. It was just too easy to make money from oil and gas. The sector scooped up every new engineer and scientist graduating from our universities, every skilled tradesperson coming out of our colleges. Eighteen-year-old dropouts were paid $1,500 a week to drive truck. The bloom is off that rose. Alberta’s future growth will be the result of technology-savvy entrepreneurs reaching for that higher-hanging fruit. But not entirely. As mentioned at the start of this series, oil isn’t going away. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Even without new pipelines, and with more oil-by-rail, oil production at a minimum will grow from 3.5 million barrels a day today to 4 million. Meanwhile, despite the persistent denial of climate-change extre ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Why moving oil by rail is a flop By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 3, 2019

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg. (File photo) By GRAHAM HICKS Today I am going to figure out, with the help of energy analyst Tim Pickering of Calgary-based Auspice Capital, one of the weirdest aspects of Alberta’s oil business. Despite good prices for our heavy oil, why has shipping oil-by-rail fallen off the map? Alberta oil producers are currently sitting pretty. Our Western Canadian Select (WCS) heavy oil – basically the oil from the oil sands — has moved from a rock-bottom $12 US a barrel last fall to around $40 today. (All prices are in American dollars. P.S. this column is not about the dreaded “differential” – it is concerned only with the actual price of heavy oil.) We all know the pipelines carrying our oil are full.  Our oil storage capacity – those great big tank farms we see around the Strathcona County refineries and elsewhere along our oil pipelines – is once again filling up. If the pipelines are full, the storage tanks ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: North American Construction soars from the ashes By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: March 1, 2019

North American Construction's President and COO Joe Lambert is dwarfed by one of the company's 300 monster haul-trucks.GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton North American Construction’s president and COO (chief operations officer) Joe Lambert sheds his corporate identity when he walks into the storied Spruce Grove company’s enormous, new, state-of-the-art repair/re-build facility in the Acheson Industrial Park. Lambert’s like a kid in a sandbox, showing off several of North American’s 240-ton to 400-ton earth-moving trucks in the shop for refurbishment and rebuilding. These are not just trucks, they are TRUCKS — some of the biggest in the world. With its most significant expansion since 2012, the publicly-traded company  purchased all of former competitor Aecon’s contract-mining division, including its entire dirt-moving fleet, in November. The 26 240-tonners added from Aecon has bumped North American’s dirt-hauling fleet to 300 trucks, from 100-ton car ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: MIA MLAs, oil investment and a little bit of this 'n' that BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN November 9, 2018

Robyn Luff, MLA for Calgary-East poses for a photo in her Calgary office on Aug. 20, 2018.Al Charest/Postmedia DOES ANYBODY KNOW THESE PEOPLE? When the Alberta NDP government was elected in May of 2015, the same question reverberated through business circles.  “Does anybody KNOW any of these people?” Outside of their own constituencies, you still hardly see or hear from those NDP MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) who are not cabinet ministers. Representing Metropolitan Edmonton constituencies for the NDP are Erin Babcock, Jon Carson, Estefania Cortes-Vargas, Lorne Dach, Nicole Goehring, Trevor Horne, Jessica Littlewood, Rod Loyola, Annie McKitrick, Chris Nielsen, Marie Renaud, Heather Sweet, Bob Turner and Denise Woollard. Does anybody even recognize their names? The only non-ministerial Edmonton NDP MLA with any kind of public profile is Edmonton Centre’s David Shepherd! Now we know why. Calgary MLA Robyn Luff, kicked out of the NDP caucus for spilling confidenti ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Not much in it for Alberta on LNG approval By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, November 2, 2018

Rendering of the North West side of the LNG Canada.Supplied / LNG Canada By GRAHAM HICKS Congrats to British Columbia. But is that the sound of one-hand clapping? It looks like the $40 billion – that’s BILLIONs, not MILLIONs – LNG Canada project/port is going  ahead. At least all the permits and processes and environmental this ‘n’ thats have been approved. LNG Canada will build a mega-specialized transfer port at Kitimat – in the same general region as Prince Rupert on the northern B.C. coast – to receive  natural gas through as yet-unbuilt-but-approved pipelines from the Montney natural gas fields of northeastern B.C. The gas shipped to the Kitimat plant will be super-cooled to the point of liquification, pumped into specialty LNG tankers and transported across the Pacific Ocean to countries where natural gas prices are five times higher than in North America. Thanks to new drilling and extraction technologies, Canada and the ... Read the rest of entry »
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