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Weekly News Update: 8/20 – 8/24

AUGUST 24, 2018

Monday, August 20, 2018


How Hydrogen Could Shake Up Canada’s Energy Sector 
While the use of hydrogen is still in its infancy, it’s growing in Canada. The potential is significant for how the most abundant element in the universe could change the country’s transportation, electricity and energy sectors. Toyota will start selling its fuel cell SUV, the Nexo, in 2019. In Canada, the vehicles face the same obstacle confronting electric cars,  the need to build refuelling stations. That’s why automotive experts say conventional gasoline-fuelled vehicles will dominate the Trans-Canada Highway for years to come. Under the hood of one of these hydrogen vehicles, electricity is produced from the chemical reaction when hydrogen combines with oxygen. The electricity powers the engine and the only tailpipe emissions are water vapour. Calgary-based companies ATCO and Enbridge are both spearheading separate projects aimed at using hydrogen to store electricity. The project is still in the early stages and the technology is still a few years away from being commercialized, according to the company. Hydrogen is already starting to be mixed with natural gas for home heating in the United Kingdom. Some provinces, like Alberta, are investing in large renewable energy projects, while also searching for ways to overcome the sporadic production of solar fields and wind farms. As it stands, traditional power plants are needed to make sure the electrical grid is reliable. Developing large utility-scale batteries could be one answer to the problem, while hydrogen may be another.

Former TransCanada CEO Kvisle Blasts Feds’ Regulatory Overhaul After Keystone XL Setback
Former TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle says Canada is heading the wrong way in how it looks at approving pipelines. Hal Kvisle called Bill C-69, a bill currently being reviewed by the Senate aimed at assessing environmental impact in Canada’s energy regulations, “an absolutely devastating piece of legislation.” The regulatory environment surrounding pipelines in Canada and the U.S. has come to the forefront once more this week, as a Montana judge ordered another environmental review of the proposed route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL.

U.S. & International:
Minimum Wage Facts & Fantasies

44-unit condo development breaks ground in Denver neighborhood
A 44-unit condo development announced in October recently broke ground in Denver’s Highland neighborhood. Developed by Alpine Investments, Edge LoHi is located at 1717 Central St. and will offer for-sale condominiums starting in the $400,000s, going up to around $1.75 million. It secured a $20 million construction loan for the project through Knighthead Funding LLC.

Pedestrian bridge for stadium prompts new look at I-15 improvement project
Transportation officials are going back to the drawing board on plans to upgrade a stretch of Interstate 15 near the Las Vegas Stadium site. To accommodate a separate plan to build a pedestrian bridge providing stadium access from the Strip, Nevada Department of Transportation officials are re-examining a $200 million project that includes reconstruction of the I-15 Tropicana interchange and the addition of high-occupancy vehicle ramps at the Harmon Avenue and Hacienda Avenue overpasses.

Report: Oregon ‘hottest’ market for roads through 2021
Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report, using data from McKinsey & Co., also put Oregon at the top its state infrastructure ranking. U.S. News looked at the categories of energy, transportation and internet access and placed Oregon first after considering a variety of factors like bridge integrity, public transportation utilization, road quality, renewable energy, power reliability and cost and broadband download speed. Oregon is also exploring new ways to collect taxes from vehicles that don’t use much gas, like electric or hybrid cars. In July of 2015, the state kicked off a pilot program called OReGO in which volunteers pay a 1.7-cent per-mile road usage fee and receive credits for any fuel taxes they pay at the pump.

Vulcan adds 12-story building to Google’s South Lake Union campus plan 
Vulcan Inc. on Tuesday said it it will build an additional office building for Google as part of its emerging Seattle campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood. The 12-story building will be south of where four six-story Google buildings are rising on Valley Street across from Lake Union Park. Those four buildings also are being developed by Seattle-based Vulcan’s real estate arm. Known as the Lakefront Blocks, they will have 607,000 square feet of office space and be topped with market-rate apartments.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Saskatchewan First Nations Chiefs Declare Support for Enbridge Line 3 
Two Sask. First Nations chiefs have announced their support for the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, saying they see economic and employment opportunities for their people. A tour of the pipeline construction site was held near White City, Sask. on Monday. Kahkewistahaw First Nation Chief Evan Taypotat said in a speech at the tour he is supporting the pipeline because it will bring employment to members of his First Nation. He said he was raised by a chief who opposed the pipeline. “There might be backlash from my people standing here today,” he said. “That’s the reality of it. I wish I could wait for the government to honour treaty, to help my people grow and prosper, but if I did that I’m pretty sure I’d be waiting into my next lifetime and the next.” Taypotat said about 20 people from his band will be working on the pipeline, including some that were previously out of work. He said the decision to support the pipeline puts Kahkewistahaw “in front of” business instead of standing off to the side. He said training and employment will be among the benefits for his First Nation. Enbridge said it will spend $250 million on Indigenous labour, training, “capacity building” and community sustainability initiatives across the whole pipeline project. In Saskatchewan, the company estimates the pipeline will create about 9,175 direct, indirect and induced jobs, and generate $1.0654 billion in GDP and $183.9 million in taxes.

Future of Mining in Canada Ministers Call for Input on Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan
In August 2017, the federal, provincial and territorial mining ministers called for a Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP). Expected to launch in 2019, the CMMP aims to enhance Canada’s competitiveness in the global mining industry and increase opportunities domestically and internationally. Resource ownership and management falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. Minerals, metals and other natural resources are owned and managed by the government of the province or territory where they are located. Most mining activities are regulated by the provinces or territories, and each jurisdiction has its own mining, environmental, and occupational health and safety legislation. The federal, provincial and territorial governments have shared responsibility in a number of areas, such as taxation and the environment. Resources on federal lands, in offshore waters and on the continental shelf are owned by the federal government, which is also responsible for uranium mining. Some resources are located on Aboriginal treaty lands, for which modern treaty signatories have specific rights and jurisdictions related to lands and resources within those areas. The provinces and territories have their own priorities, plans and strategies in support of their respective minerals and metals industries. The Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan will not supplant these efforts. Its aim is to encourage synergies and support existing provincial and territorial priorities, while bringing together resources from across Canada to address systemic challenges and take advantage of opportunities.
Industry will be counted on to play a key role, as will non-governmental organizations (including environmental and labour organizations), and municipalities. Partnership with Indigenous peoples will be critical for this work. Meaningful engagement with Indigenous leaders and other representatives at workshops, roundtable events and other venues will be undertaken to capture their perspectives.

U.S. & International: 

Immigration is on voters’ minds in key Nevada Senate race
Many consider Nevada’s Sen. Dean Heller the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate this fall. President Trump has loomed large in the race, but public support for Trump there has been sliding, and the state went for the Democrat in the last three presidential elections. Yamiche Alcindor talks with voters about why immigration is their number one issue heading into the midterm elections.

The History of Labor Day and What It Means Today
Labor Day is on Monday, September 3, 2018. Before you celebrate by running off to your nearest beach, you may want to know how this holiday was started.
The history of Labor Day, originally tied to the “dignity of workers”, underscores the uphill climb U.S. clock-punchers and career professionals have had for the past 100-plus years.
From mail room attendant to coal miners to office secretaries and more, the story of Labor Day is not only one of celebration, but of bloodshed and sacrifice, as well, as those workers from generations past paid a steep price for advancing the cause of labor for generations to come.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018 

Canada’s ultra-cheap natural gas drives hopes of petrochemical boom
Canada’s gas-rich province of Alberta is looking to recreate the building boom spreading along the U.S. Gulf Coast, where inexpensive natural gas generated billions of dollars in investment by petrochemical companies. The adoption by drillers of fracking technology to unlock oil and gas from shale rock expanded U.S. production dramatically starting a decade ago. That abundance has generated $194 billion since 2010 in announced capital investment to build or expand U.S. chemical plants that use gas to make plastics, fertilizer and fuel, according to the American Chemistry Council.

$10-$15 billion in Canadian midstream deals expected over next two years: Peters & Co.
There’s more to come after an “incredible” $120 billion in Canadian midstream oil and gas deals in the last three years, according to analysts with Peters & Co. Blockbuster acquisitions have shifted the composition of this key sector, with the top four being Enbridge’s $59-billion buy of Spectra Energy, TransCanada’s $17-billion purchase of Columbia Pipeline Group, Pembina’s $9-billion Veresen buy and the $8-billion purchase of WGL by AltaGas.Peters & Co. analysts reviewed the companies and assets that are remaining, estimating in a research note this week that there is another $10-15 billion of transactions that are likely to go ahead over the next 1-2 years. “The one notable public process in western Canada is Athabasca’s potential sale of its storage/pipeline assets in the Cheecham area. How it goes about monetizing these assets will impact the proceeds (contract structure and fees), but we estimate could reach into the $300-$400 million range for an outright sale.”

Kindersley Area Primary Focus in Public Offering of Petroleum and Natural Gas Rights 
The Kindersley area was the primary focus of attention for Saskatchewan’s August public offering of Crown petroleum and natural gas rights, which was held on Aug. 14 and generated $6.5 million in revenue for the province. A total of 79 leases representing 17,595 hectares were sold in the Kindersley area for a total of $3,741,872. The Estevan area produced revenue of $2,692,362 for 21 leases totaling 1,829 hectares, while the other two regions, Lloydminster and Swift Current, had negligible results. The highest dollar per hectare in this area was received from Teine Energy Ltd., who paid $1,236/hectare for a 32-hectare parcel located within the Kerrobert Viking Sand Oil Pool, 30 kilometres northwest of Kindersley. In west central Saskatchewan, the top purchaser of acreage was Turnstone Energy Inc. who spent $1,500,810 to acquire 28 lease parcels.

Woodfibre LNG Announces New President
David Keane has been appointed the new president of Woodfibre LNG. Keane comes to the organization after four years as President and CEO of the BC LNG Alliance,  a partnership between seven leading LNG proponents in the province that promotes LNG products. Keane will now lead the construction phase of the new liquified natural gas plant in Squamish.

U.S. & International: 
Western Washington crane operators strike after union members reject labor deal
The Seattle area’s construction frenzy slowed Tuesday as crane operators and some other workers walked off the job after rejecting a new union contract.
Western Washington members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 302 started the strike at 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to a statement on its website. In addition to crane and other heavy equipment operators, the union is made up of mechanics, surveyors in the construction industry, and stationary engineers, who work in operations and maintenance in building and industrial complexes, according to the Washington State Labor Council.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Supreme Court Rejects City of Burnaby Trans Mountain Challenge
The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an appeal by the City of Burnaby on construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, one of the last court challenges to a project that has pitted British Columbia and First Nations against Alberta and Ottawa. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said Thursday the setback isn’t the end of the city’s legal attempts to derail the project.

BC NDP Moving Forward on Labour Employment Standards Review
B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains says he’s proceeding carefully with changes to labour and employment standards legislation, as businesses raise concerns that employers are burdened enough by NDP government actions. Bains is awaiting a report from a panel he appointed toreview the Labour Code, expected by the end of August. Unions advised the panel they want certifications done by signing up a majority of members, ending secret ballot votes brought in by the previous government. Bains said his mandate letter from Premier John Horgan requires him to update employment standards, and he already has recommendations from the B.C. Federation of Labour and the union-affiliated B.C. Employment Standards Coalition. The B.C. NDP government’s initial move last year was to increase minimum wage rates. The latest increase June 1, from $11.35 to $12.65 an hour, is part of the government’s pledge to raise the minimum wage in steps to $15.20 by 2021, with increases each June. That’s a 34% increase in three years. Bains said his review must weigh the competitiveness of business with the need to update employment standards to reflect the rising number of people working in the “gig economy,” such as meal delivery and ride hailing services. Like farm and other casual workers, they are not classed as employees and are not entitled to vacation pay, statutory holiday pay and other employment benefits

U.S. & International:
Dams and reservoirs can’t save us. This is the new future of water infrastructure
That means water engineers need to radically rethink the traditional approach to water infrastructure. They will need to get creative. In some cases, it may mean going back to basics and installing cisterns in backyards to harvest the rain. In others, it may mean doing as the astronauts have done since the advent of space travel: drinking one’s own recycled urine.
That’s because water, especially in dry places, is finite. Rivers and streams and lakes usually originate as snowmelt or rainfall, and in dry parts of the world, those sources are in decline as droughts strike harder and more regularly. Meanwhile, human populations are growing, and using freshwater faster than it can be replenished. Potable water is a rare commodity and growing more precious by the decade.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Oil Sands Get a Makeover as Petroteq Touts New Clean Extraction Process 
Just when environmentalists and shale oil had pretty much done for any more significant investment in tar sands, a couple of ex-oil industry veterans, David Sealock formerly of Chevron, and Jerry Bailey, formerly of ExxonMobil, are out to do to oil sands what modern drilling and fracturing did to tight oil. Ukrainian-backed Canadian minnow, Petroteq Energy, is promoting the environmental credentials of a new solvent-based extraction process to release the riches locked up in Utah’s Asphalt Ridge. As its name suggests, the deposit is surface occurring and, somewhat like the Alberta oil sands, is a heavy crude saturated rocky outcrop.
Petroteq claims its process uses “benign” solvents to extract the oil, which are then recycled, leaving virtually clean sand as only waste product. The process is different from that employed in Canada and elsewhere, which relies on steam and large quantities of water, resulting in toxic tailings pools and horrendous scarring of the landscape. Specifically, the process takes large chunks of the oil-saturated sands and crushes them into small chunks, then mixes with solvents. The mix is then transferred to a second tank, where a centrifuge spins the lumpy liquid, separating the oil from the sands. Clean sand is moved to a reclamation landfill. Finally, the solvents are distilled out of the oily liquid and recycled over and over again. The company claims virtually no chemicals are left in the sand that is put back as landfill.

Seven Contractors Who Will Build The Trans Mountain
Momentum is building for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, with Kinder Morgan Canada releasing an updated list of the final construction contractors. SA Energy Group is the general contractor for portions of pipeline construction in Greater Edmonton (Spread 1), a portion of the North Thompson region (Spread 4B) and the Fraser Valley (Spread 6). Midwest Pipelines is the contractor for the Yellowhead portion of the project between Edmonton and Jasper National Park (Spread 2). The Ledcor Sicim Limited Partnership, which has a particular focus on challenging mountainous terrain, is contractor for the majority of the North Thompson portion of the Project (Spreads 3 and 4A). Surerus Murphy Joint Venture is the contractor for the BC Interior portion of the project between Black Pines and the Coquihalla Summit (Spread 5A). Macro Spiecapag Joint Venture, which also has extensive experience in mountainous terrain, is contractor for the Coquihalla-Hope portion of the project. Kiewit Ledcor TMEP Partnership is the contractor for the Lower Mainland – including the Westridge Marine Terminal, Burnaby Terminal and Tunnel, the Sumas Terminal, and pipeline from Langley to Burnaby (Spread 7). WorleyParsonsCord is the contractor responsible for the Edmonton Terminal and all 12 pump stations included in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.