HicksBiz Blog

Category: Oil + Gas

Oil + Gas

Hicks on Biz: Climate leadership is tearing Canada apart By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, August 24, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.THE CANADIAN PRESS By GRAHAM HICKS Climate leadership is tearing Canada apart. Geographical regions are divided, First Nations’ groups are divided, governments are divided, political parties are divided, families are divided. In the past, almost all Canadians supported the great national projects that created today’s prosperity — the cross-Canada railroads, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the great hydro-electricity projects of B.C., Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland/Labrador. Today, Canada’s biggest potential prosperity-builder is construction of new or expanded pipelines and new ocean ports to export Western Canadian oil and natural gas to Eastern Canada, Asia, Europe and the USA. But these pipelines have become the central battleground, the symbolic line in the sand, between those convinced too much CO2 (from the burning of fossil fuels) is causing world-destroying global warming, a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is Big Oil slip-sliding away in Alberta? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN: May 4, 2018

Stacks from the Petro-Canada Refinery rise above the Enbridge Oil Tank Farm in Sherwood Park, Ab.Colleen De Neve / Calgary Herald, file By GRAHAM HICKS There will be no dramatic cleaning out of Enbridge or TransCanada’s Calgary corporate headquarters, no fleet of moving vans heading down the American I-25 highway in a near straight line from Calgary through Denver to Houston. But until Canadian governments realize wealth creation is as important as the environment,  gender imbalance and social justice, Alberta’s major pipeline building companies will slip-slide away to the U.S. It won’t be dramatic. It never is. Corporations don’t want bad-news headlines. But Enbridge and TransCanada build pipelines. Major pipelines are not being built in Canada. Pipelines are being built in the U.S. Funny thing about doing business.  You go where the work is. Both TransCanada and Enbridge are going where the work is, via major acquisitions. In 2016, TransCan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta doesn't need wind farms by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 9, 2018

By GRAHAM HICKS I have been to a wind farm, watched the blades on 80-metre-tall wind turbines turn lazily in the late-February sun. In a very gentle 5.4 km/h wind, 16 megawatts (MW) of electricity were being generated — wind converted to electricity at each tower, fed through underground cables to a substation, then fed into the provincial power grid. In that lazy wind at Capital Power’s Halkirk Wind Farm about 30 kilometres east of Stettler, 83 towers each generated 230 kilowatts (kW) of power ‑ enough to perhaps power my neighbourhood at that very moment. Halkirk is impressive — the 83 wind turbines scattered across 60 square kilometres of working farmland are so quiet (at least in low winds), so grey, so clean against the blue sky — dotting the landscape around the village of Halkirk like ghostly sentinels. The technology and know-how are all imported. The global wind-farm company Vestas Wind Systems, headquartered in Denmark, manufactures, assembles, maintains and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta is no longer viable By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 2, 2018

As the federal and provincial governments make it more difficult for the resource industry to get things done, there's less incentive for those companies to develop infrastructure in this province.Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Postmedia I’m doing my best not to be ultra-cynical. But put yourself in the position of a major petrochemical/energy company CEO, reading the recently released report of the Alberta government-appointed Energy Diversification Advisory Committee. It is entitled, Diversification, Not Decline: Adapting to the new energy reality. “Really?” the CEO is saying to him or herself as he/she flips the pages. “Really?  The Alberta and Canadian governments have been pummelling my industry since 2015 when the Liberals came to power in Ottawa and the New Democrats in Alberta. “We (the energy sector) were flattened by the 50% drop in oil prices at the end of 2014.  And, ever since,  your governments have been kicking us while we& ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Expecting a decent 2018 by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, Dec. 30, 2017

You have to be careful, sticking your head out of the foxhole to gaze out on 2018. The odds on said head being blown off are fairly alarming. Nobody ever gets this prediction game right. But, fingers crossed, luck being with us, global events giving us tailwinds, 2018 should be a reasonably decent year for business, employment and quality of life in northern Alberta (for our purposes, Edmonton and everything north of Edmonton). “Reasonably decent” is highly contextual.  For the province as a whole, the Alberta government’s forecasters are looking at a 2.5 per cent growth rate for 2018. Which will be less than the four per cent growth rate being left behind in 2017. Don’t forget three big factors. It’s terrific the economy did well this year, and will keep growing (hopefully) at 2.5% for 2018. But the previous two years were awful, a negative four per cent economic growth in 2015, and another negative four per cent growth in 2016. We have not caught up to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: No coal in Edmonton's stockings this year BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 21, 2017

Santa, you have already given Edmonton the best gift we could have asked for. In 2017, Metro Edmonton somehow avoided slipping into recession. Business-wise, things weren’t great, but they weren’t bad … and way better than 2016 which was an annus horribilis year. The oil patch has learned to live with $50 a barrel oil (the benchmark $50 US for West Texas Intermediate). Of late, oil prices have looked positively balmy, floating up to $55 to $60. Residential construction surprisingly picked up strength as the year went by … pent-up demand, confidence on the part of home-buyers, more young couples with good jobs, readying for kids. As the Stantec and JW Marriott towers reach ever skyward, the Ice District construction employment has been a saving grace. The Valley LRT has also dented the unemployment ranks with that project now in its intensive construction phase. The impact, or lack thereof, of oil and gas on Northern Alberta’s economy is increasingly complex. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Is Edmonton headed for an economic rebound? By GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN November 10, 2017

One really shouldn’t be so foolish as to predict Edmonton’s economy. It’s like predicting how the Oilers will do. Who, six months ago, would have predicted our hockey team’s current dire straits? This column has been all gloom and doom on the future of Edmonton and Alberta’s economy. I’ve been arguing that the now-three-year crash in oil and gas prices shows no sign of let-up, that construction is slowing, that “carbon restraint” is clamping down on global demand for our oil and gas and at the same time raising Alberta’s electricity costs: That sky-rocketing provincial debt and a perceived anti-business bias from the current provincial government has scared off investment in Alberta. Not a pretty picture. But in the past few weeks a flurry of economic forecasts are painting a more optimistic future – at least for 2018 and 2019. The basic theory seems to be that things have been so bad — a 3% drop in Alberta’s economic output ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Red October hasn’t happened…yet BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017

Happily, I’m on the hook to pay for a fancy dinner with my former boss John Caputo, now the Sun/Postmedia’s head of advertising for Western Canada. In June, Hicks on Biz predicted a serious financial downturn in Edmonton by the end of October, i.e. this month. Financial blood would be running on the street, I said, caused by the slowdown in the oilsands, the slowdown in all Northern Alberta construction and manufacturing, higher income and corporate taxes, minimum wage increases and the enormous debt being run up by this free-spending provincial government. It would all hit home, I said, with a sudden, thudding recession starting in October. Caputo, ever the optimist, took issue with the forecast. So we made a bet: A fine dinner, to be paid for by whoever was wrong. That was me. Hooray! Today, most credible economic forecasters – the Conference Board of Canada, Edmonton Chief Economist John Rose and others – are predicting a higher-than-average 4% growth this year ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on biz: Cheers to Alberta's oilsands! BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

I once interviewed former Edmonton mayor Steve Mandel, just as he was considering running for mayor. It was a ho-hum interview, not much to remember. But he made one point I will never forget. “Doesn’t matter how much the city’s economy grows,” he said, using his hands to make a widening circle. “If there’s any contraction,” he said, bringing his hands closer together, “no matter what, it’s going to hurt like hell.” No truer words have ever been said. Which is why most of us are mystified by the non-negotiable, end-of-fossil-fuel stance espoused by many in our midst. These environmental “progressives” are willing to risk a major drop in Alberta’s standard of living by ending our major industry … no matter how minimal its contribution to global warming may be. Here we are, celebrating 50 years since the opening of the first commercial oilsands mine in Fort McMurray. The Sun’s excellent six-part series on the oilsan ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Cold Lake an example of Alberta pain BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, AUGUST 04, 2017 08:58 AM

“The environmental agenda has hijacked Alberta’s resource industry and our politicians,” wrote Craig Copeland, one of many readers responding to last week’s Hicks on Biz column entitled “Alberta’s economic suicide.” “It gained traction in the early 2000s but has escalated lately with the new provincial and federal governments,” Copeland continued, “even though Alberta already had some of the strictest industrial environmental policies in the world. I fear we could be witnessing one of the greatest economic tragedies in Canadian history.” Just another redneck opinion to be ignored, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and her advisers would likely say. The current New Democrat government appears to put a higher priority on its climate change action plan than on the dismal state of the provincial economy, everywhere other than Edmonton. Copeland, however, is no redneck. He’s the long-time mayor of Cold Lake, one of Alberta’s more ... Read the rest of entry »
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