Thursday, 29 June 2017

Energy For Tomorrow

By: David Coglon
Published: Context Magazine


Five reasons why Canada's oil and natural gas resources are an essential part of the future energy mix for our nation and the world.

Energy runs the world. It meets our most basic needs, such as having a warm place to live, lights to read by, and a means of cooking food. It also underlies our ability to travel great distances, transport goods for trade, and build amazing products from smart phones to artificial hearts.

Oil and natural gas have formed the backbone of an energy revolution that has transformed the lives of billions for the better. Oil and natural gas have the promise and opportunity to transform the lives of billions more, with Canada at the lead as a sustainable, responsible and innovative energy producer.

As the world moves to a lower-carbon future, some have pronounced the doom of the hydrocarbon industry. This does not stand up to scrutiny. Oil and natural gas have a critical role to play in meeting the world’s energy needs for the foreseeable future. We examine five reasons why.

Reason 1: We need more energy

“If you look at any forecast, we’re going to see growing energy demand,” says Jackie Forrest, director of research at the Calgary-based ARC Energy Research Institute.

Forrest’s comment is backed by the latest energy outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2016 projects that by 2040 the world will need 31 per cent more energy than we use today. Others draw similar conclusions. BP in its latest report estimates global energy demand to grow around 30 per cent by 2035, while the U.S. Energy Information Administration says this could even reach 48 per cent by 2040.

“We’re going to see a huge increase in the energy system because we’re seeing a growth in population, more countries increasing their wealth and many people demanding mobility,” Forrest says.

The IEA numbers make for serious reading. According to the agency, 1.2 billion people still lack access to electricity. And 2.7 billion are without clean cooking fuels, instead depending on wood, charcoal or animal dung for fuel. It’s clear many people around the world are looking to low-cost, efficient energy sources simply to boost their quality of life to standards we in the West have long taken for granted.
So if more energy is required, what’s it going to take to get us there? In practical terms, it’s going to take all forms of energy—and that includes oil and natural gas.
“People often hear about the rapid growth rate of renewable energy. But even if this happens, at the end of 2040, renewables will still make up only seven per cent of the world’s entire energy mix,” says Terry Abel, CAPP’s executive vice-president. “Most people would be surprised to learn that hydrocarbons—oil, natural gas, coal—together will still make up more than three-quarters of the future energy mix in 2040.”
This forecast is part of the IEA’s central or “New Policies” scenario, which incorporates countries getting serious about meeting climate pledges made in Paris in December 2015.
“If government leaders stick on the path today, even including the agreements signed in Paris, this future still implies growth in oil and gas,” Forrest says.

Reason 2: Oil and natural gas: plentiful, powerful, transportable

We don’t have to go far to realize what’s behind continued demand for oil and gas: They pack a lot of energy punch within their molecules.

“Nothing can compete with oil and natural gas in terms of economics or their utility. At $50 a barrel, it’s fairly cheap to use oil versus other alternatives,” says Forrest. “Liquids fuels have a lot of energy density. When you get a tank of gas, you can travel really long distances—and that’s a big advantage,” Forrest says.

There’s also their abundance. It used to be that society worried about peak oil. But through innovation, we’ve found plenty more. That’s true especially today, as unconventional technologies have unlocked new shale gas and tight oil reserves, vastly growing the world’s hydrocarbon reserves. In fact, according to BP’s latest energy outlook, there’s enough technically recoverable oil in the ground to meet double the world’s needs by 2050.

Alternatives to oil and gas are becoming more viable. Improvements to solar technology are allowing this energy source to take on a larger role, specifically in electricity production. As well, more electric cars are entering the market. Even so, they do not spell an end to hydrocarbon-driven energy.

“There are still a lot of cars that run on gas and diesel in the world,” says Forrest, who estimates there are more than a billion light duty vehicles (LDVs) on the road currently. As well, while more cars may be electric, hydrocarbons are often used to generate the electricity needed to charge up these vehicles. For example, both the U.S. and China currently depend on hydrocarbons for at least two-thirds of their electricity production.

Another important advantage for hydrocarbon energy sources—particular in supplying developing and emerging economies—is they can be efficiently transported over large distances via tankers and pipelines. Places like Canada with plentiful energy resources and modern energy infrastructure can export these resources to places elsewhere where energy is in short supply and high demand. This option isn’t possible for most alternative energy sources where you need to be relatively close to the source (as is required for hydro) or build significant infrastructure to access or create the energy supply (think nuclear, solar and wind).

As well, energy sources such as natural gas can be counted on to fuel electricity generation backstopping more wind and solar.

“When the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, we will still need a backup. That can come from natural gas, which is always available when you need it and is economic,” Forrest says.

Reason 3: Innovation can solve the carbon dilemma

To meet the world’s growing energy demands while shifting towards a lower-carbon future requires innovation. This applies to renewable energy sources which today cannot meet the burden of providing energy security to large populations without improvements that deal with the high cost, large land footprints and intermittency of these sources.

By the same token, innovation will enable oil and natural gas to continue as an important part of a growing energy mix within a lower-carbon future. Canadian producers are already working hard to find ways to significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with the production of oil and natural gas.

Groundbreaking research, for example, is taking place through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (or COSIA). Five years ago, 13 oil sands companies formed COSIA—a unique partnership that’s committed to better environmental performance in key areas, including greenhouse gases. To do that, they’ve set aggressive targets. They’re pooling their resources and sharing knowledge, best practices and even intellectual property. Already they’ve shared more than $1.3 billion of intellectual property representing more than 900 technologies and innovations. This is a magnitude of intellectual property sharing unique in the world.

“Through literally hundreds of projects, the companies are achieving environmental performance goals they’ve set for themselves. And the improvements through innovation are translating into new value for the companies involved and the industry,” says Gordon Lambert, a former vice-president of sustainability at Suncor Energy and one of the founders of COSIA.
“To be positioned for success in the 21st century, our industry has to be resilient in a carbon-restrained future."
Gordon Lambert
Elsewhere, industry is partnering with research institutions, like the University of Calgary, to create environmentally effective technologies. Armed with a $75-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, a team of 270 researchers at the university is working with producers to find lower impact ways to extract energy from unconventional oil resources with less energy and less water.

Lambert, who’s also a former member of the Alberta government’s climate change leadership panel, calls these and similar efforts “mission critical” to the industry’s future.

“To be positioned for success in the 21st century, our industry has to be resilient in a carbon-restrained future. And the way in which we can do that is through innovation. Innovating to produce hydrocarbons with less energy inputs, which in turns translates into less GHG outputs and lower costs, will be the essence of our industry’s future carbon competitiveness,” he says.

Reason 4: Canadian energy: abundant, reliable, sustainable

While we’re still very much a continental oil and gas player supplying mostly our neighbor to the south, new pipelines and export facilities could change all that, putting us on the world stage. When that happens, the “made in Canada” sticker on oil and gas products could carry a lot of weight with foreign customers.

“I think we’ll find that the world will welcome Canadian oil and gas production. Our resources come from a stable political regime. The sources are consistent and constant, and we have long, steady-producing entities,” Abel says.

Add to that, Canada's oil and natural gas is produced under a world-class regulatory system. A 2014 study by Worley Parsons comparing Alberta’s environmental policies, laws and regulatory systems with other oil-producing regions, ranked Canada near the top.

“Canada undergoes quite a bit of scrutiny in the development of its resources. We have some of the most stringent environmental regulations, and the transparency to go with it,” says Abel, who previously worked as a senior executive at the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Abel says Canada, with its responsibly produced oil and gas, has the opportunity to make a difference on the world stage. Alberta has introduced a carbon leadership plan with a hard cap on oil sands GHG emissions. And the industry already invests heavily in technology and innovation.

“If the world wants to see cleaner, more responsible oil and gas, then they will want Canada to be in the mix of suppliers,” he says.

Reason 5: Petrochemicals and almost everything you own

We shouldn’t forget that oil and natural gas are needed to create petrochemicals, the building blocks used to manufacture many of the products we count on every day.

Walk into any home, and there’s something made using petrochemicals: the paint on the walls, the lightweight winter jacket, the smartphone in our pockets. Petrochemicals are also behind carbon fibre and other advanced materials that make airplanes lighter (and more fuel efficient) and wind turbine blades stronger, while allowing for breakthroughs like lightweight and flexible artificial limbs.

“Our chemistry industry touches many aspects of our society, and petrochemicals are a big part of that,” says David Podruzny, vice-president of business and economics for the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC). CIAC represents Canada’s $53-billion chemistry sector, which relies on natural gas liquids and oil for high-value feed stocks.

According to Podruzny, just under five per cent of oil and about 20 per cent of Canada's natural gas consumption gets converted to petrochemicals. And that’s an application he doesn’t see disappearing soon.

“Nor should it disappear,” he adds, noting there are close to $12-billion in investment decisions under consideration for Canada that would use natural gas or biomass as raw material to make petrochemicals. “We make petrochemicals with the lowest carbon footprint on the planet,” says Podruzny, “Who will benefit if these investments move elsewhere?”

“Even as society talks about decarbonizing our economy and some talk about even eliminating the use of oil and natural gas, I challenge that. I see new value from hydrocarbons 50 years from now where they are used to make new materials that add to our quality of life,” Podruzny says.

It’s a broader outlook for oil and natural gas that ultimately challenges industry to capture even more value from the resource, yielding new products and applications for now, and well into the future.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

THE OIL SERVICE INDUSTRY OF THE FUTURE LOOKS THE SAME AS THE PAST

By: David Yager
Published: OilWeek July 2017


            Reams have been written about how the oil and gas industry of the future will be different. For many, it has no future. Fossil fuels are environmental suicide. Solar-powered airplanes, wind-driven automobiles, and plant-based substitutes for all plastic and petrochemical products are imminent.

           If people in the battered oilfield services (OFS) industry thought the last two and a half years were awful, the future is worse. Except in Alberta, where maybe you get one of those government jobs installing efficient light bulbs or low-volume show heads.
           Fortunately, a world without oil is utter fantasy. The only reason so many dream about life without petroleum and its derivatives is because they have no conception of how big or integral it is. The U.S. Energy Information Administration figures global oil consumption will bust through 100 million bbls/d sometime next year. This is one-third more than the 76 million bbls/d at the turn of the century, shortly after Ottawa ratified the Kyoto Protocol to get on with replacing fossil fuels in 1997.
          Yes, there is indeed a great divergence between what we humans say and what we do. Which means OFS is going to be around in some form or another for the foreseeable future. 
           Therefore, discussions continue on how to keep the Canadian oilpatch competitive in a world of low oil and gas prices. We're repeatedly told exploration and production (E&P) companies must focus on technology to keep costs down. What is discouraging is the premise that nothing has advanced or improved recently. In the real OFS world, everything is continually changing with such meteoric velocity, most struggle to remain employed, solvent or adaptable. As deep thinkers opine on the need for change, anybody who actually works in this business knows nothing else.
            Take drilling. When I got my start on the rig floor in the 1970s, it used to take three months (if everything went well) to a year (with the customary fishing jobs and sidetracks)) to drill a 5,000-metre wellbore in the foothills, the only place anybody had to drill that far at the time. In an employment study I did for the Petroleum Services Association of Canada and MNP in 2014, I found our industry was drilling 6,000-metre horizontals in 20 days from spud to rig release. It's surely faster now. In the old days, a well required dozens of rock bits. Now, most of the hole is drilled with one. Most of the rigs that paid the rent for decades are racked and obsolete and will never drill again.
          The same thing goes for completions. Early in the multistage horizontal revolution, a big completion had 16 stages. Last fall, a JWN article reported NCS Multistage provided the equipment for a 92-stage frac in the Montney in northeastern B.C. Anybody who built anything new a decade ago for frac fluids, sand, cuttings-handling and disposal, solids control, mud motors or MWD systems has likely seen technology eclipse the commercial value of what used to be their bread and butter assets. Several times.
          And we're still lectured on the on the need to adapt, embrace technology and get with the program to stay relevant.
          The only thing Canada's upstream oil and gas industry needs to stay competitive is reduced finding and development (F&D) costs, whereby operators can replace and add production profitably at current prices. In the face of relentless tax increases and non-operational operating cost pressures, this is the economic definition of technology. OFS cannot survive without successful clients. E&P cannot succeed without a robust, supportive, adaptive and innovative supply chain.
         But the financial contribution OFS has made in recent years to its clients succeed has been incredible and unsustainable. Billions in new equipment, billions in new technology, billions in price cuts, billions in credit extended to customers who see no need to pay invoices promptly.
Appalling. 
         The lasting solution is a new business model, abandonment of the historically uneven relationship and the creation of new commercial relationships in which everybody succeeds. E&P and OFS companies understand the only path to success is lower F&D costs, which cannot be achieved in an environment that remains predatory and abusive. This goes both ways: terrible work and service at high prices when things are busy and purchasing policies that don't care if vendors go broke on the job when they are not.
         With no material changes in the way business is conducted three years after WTI last saw US$100/bbl, the future for OFS looks exactly the same as the past.


Friday, 2 June 2017

Trudeau's oil tanker ban a damaging double standard for Canada's economy

By: Alan Yu - Fort St. John resident and founder of FSJ for LNG
Published: Fort Nelson Newspaper


      Issuing a ban on oil tankers on the West Coast, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is creating an economically-damaging double-standard that has the potential to steer the Canadian economy onto the rocks.
     Trudeau is fulfilling his campaign promise by having his government introduce legislation banning oil tanker traffic along British Columbia's north coast. While it may be laudable for a politician to keep a campaign promise once elected, some sober second thought would have shown the Prime Minister that such a ban would effectively landlock the third largest oil reserves in the world.
     Next to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, Canada has the third largest known reserves of oil. Our currently landlocked oil and gas reserves contribute a fifth of Canada's total exports. As noted by prominent economist Patricia Mohr, crude oil exports remain the biggest trade category yielding a positive trade surplus. This is a critical component of the overall Canadian economy that Trudeau and his government would be foolish to imperial.
     Not only do our oil and gas exports keep the Canadian economy humming, they could easily be further developed to double or triple their financial impact on our country by opening up exports on both coasts. This, in turn, would pull in more foreign currency into Canada's tax coffers to finance our schools, health care, infrastructure, and other social programs. The world will not reduce its craving for fuel just because Canada won't export it. The world would simply source its oil from other countries.
     It's little comfort that the federal Liberal government's proposed legislation exempts LNG tanker ships from this ban. Canadian oil and gas producer must compete on a decidedly-uneven playing field against countries with vastly different tax regimes. Oil-rich and LNG-exporting Brunei has no personal taxes. The United Arab Emirates government does not impose income taxes on companies or individuals living in the country. In contrast, Canadian oil and gas producers contribute significant amounts to our country in corporate and personal taxes.
     The federal willingness to play ducks and drakes with our economy for the sake of harvesting green-leaning votes is also reflected in the results of the last BC provincial election. An already-deep urban-rural divide got deeper with both the NDP and the Greens concentrating their campaigns in the Greater Vancouver and Greater Victoria urban centers of the province while ignoring the rural, resource-rich Interior. They now have more combined seats than the pro-resource development BC Liberals.
     This troubling trend shows every sign of growing nationally. Some 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban areas near the US border removed from resources and resource towns. They have no contact with the resources they rely upon for their standard of living every day. Two decades of intense campaigning by eco-activists has convinced these 80 per cent to oppose natural resource development despite the fact that it is still a major contributor to the national economy. The B.C. coastal tanker ban and the popularity of the not-so-resource friendly NDP and Greens in the urban areas of BC are signs that many Canadians have forgotten that their economy was first built on -- and is still dependent upon - natural resource development.
     Pressure from urban-based environmentalists has led to hurdles and delays in approving and developing new resource projects. This is a sharp contrast to what is happening in the United States, where President Donald Trump is tearing down hurdles against oil and gas exploration and development while putting up what appear to be trade barriers to protect local US production.
      Prime Minister Trudeau's tanker ban legislation is clearly aimed at consolidating support among the urban 80 per cent, who comprise a huge voting bloc. And as yet, there are no public consultations scheduled to hear about how Canadians feel about the ban.  Voices have already been raised in opposition -- voices Trudeau would do well to heed, including those of First Nations backing the $14-billion Eagle Spirit Energy Project who said in a press release on May 12:
      " As Chiefs from British Columbia and Alberta, we are very disappointed with the inappropriate actions taken today by Prime Minister Trudeau and the Federal Government by introducing a tanker ban on Canada's West Coast. We feel strongly that a blanket tanker moratorium is not the answer. Once again, government and international environmental lobby groups want to make decisions for out communities."
      If indeed the reason for the tanker ban is to preserve the environment, why single out the West Coast? The East Coast welcomes Saudi Arabian, Nigerian and Venezuelan oil tankers in its ports all year round. Eastern Canada imports more than $35 billion of oil per year, taking money out of Canada, paying for the wages of workers overseas when we have the third largest deposits of oil in the world.
       So the question to the Prime Minister is this: why the double-standard? Why ban tankers in the West and not the East? Why cripple our oil export potential, which could balance our budget, provide jobs to thousands of Canadians while generating funds for our health care, education, and infrastructure? Why is the eastern part of Canada not using Canadian oil and gas? My suspicion is this ill-advised ban is based on counting votes, not the good of our economy.


Sinking the myth of dangerous West Coast oil tanker traffic

By: Gywn Morgan
Published: Fort Nelson News
Columist, Troy Media

As a change in government looms in British Columbia puts the Kinder Morgan expansion project in jeopardy, we need to realize just how safe oil tankers are.       


 Victoria - The expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline system, to ultimately move Alberta crude oil by tanker through the Port of Vancouver, was a high-profile issue in the recent B.C. election.
       Liberal Premier Christy Clark agreed to support the federally-approved project in exchange for Ottawa's commitment to a substantially upgraded emergency spill response plan and financial compensation from Kinder Morgan that would see the province paid as much as $1 billion over the next two decades.
       This didn't appease spill-fearing Vancouverites, who shifted their votes to NDP Leader John Horgan in the May 9 provincial election after he vowed to use "every tool in the toolbox" to fight the project. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver also voiced strong opposition.
        Now that a New Democrat/Green coalition looms as strong possibility to be B.C.'s next government, the federal government's resolve to enforce its approval of the project will be sorely tested.
        Prior to the election, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson stated that expanding Kinder Morgan's tanker traffic from five to 35 per month isn't worth the "disastrous risks" of a spill.
       But does the project actually pose such risks?
        Let's move beyond the rhetoric to some hard facts.
       While there has never been a serous il tanker spill on Canada's Pacific coast, the truly disastrous environmental impact of the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska's Prince William Sound is the most often cited reason to oppose the Kinder Morgan expansion.
        Paradoxically, the Exxon Valdez spill proved to be a powerful catalyst that set off a spill-prevention movement in the global oil shipping industry. Investigators concluded that the spill wouldn't have happened if the Exxon Valdez had been a double-hulled vessel. As a result, 150 countries mandated a 25-year phase-out of single-hull tankers and a requirement for all new vessels to be double-hulled by the end of 2014. That phase-out began soon after with new, greatly improved ships progressively replacing older ones. The new double-hulled ships, combined with advanced navigation systems and other safety measures, have resulted in a precipitous drop in global seaborn oil spills from an annual average of 2,340 barrels per day in the 1980's to just 110 barrels per day sine 2010. That staggering reduction has been achieved despite a doubling of tanker shipments to 60 million barrels per day.
      As a result, hundreds of times more petroleum from leaking vehicles, trucking spills, illegally disposed used oil and other land-based sources runs down municipal storm drains into the world's rivers and oceans than from tanker spills.
       That's the global picture.
What about in Canada?
      Let's start on our eastern coasts. Transport Canada data shows that more than 1.6 million barrels of petroleum is safely moved from 23 Atlantic Canada ports each day. Another 500,000 barrels per day moves up the St. Lawrence to Montreal and other Quebec ports. Overall, Eastern Canada's ports berth some 4,000 inbound petroleum tankers each year without any major incidents.
      Due to the proximity of the Vancouver and Seattle areas, analysis of tanker movements on the West Coast must include Canadian and American traffic. Essentially all tankers must transit the Strait of Juan de Fuca bordered to the north by Vancouver Island and to the south by Washington State.
      Of the approximately 1.2 million barrels per day of oil that goes though the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 500,000 barrels per day of mainly Alaskan oil similar in grade to Canada's diluted oilsands crude moves south to the Seattle area.
      About 700,000 barrels per day moves from the Vancouver region transported by various means, including tugboat-towed barges, refined fuel tankers and, five days a month, an outbound tanker carrying crude from Kinder Morgan's Vancouver pipeline terminus. Despite hundreds of millions of barrels of seaborn petroleum movements over many decades, the only significant spill on the West Coast didn't come from a tanker. It occurred when the BC Ferries vessel Queen of the North foundered near Prince Rupert with 1,750 barrels of fuel on board.
      The Kinder Morgan capacity expansion would see its tanker shipments grow to 35 per month. The company's spill prevention measures go far beyond employing the strongest and safest double-hulled tankers. Certified Marine Navigation Pilots will be on the bridge until the ships reach open ocean. Powerful ocean tugs, one of which will be tethered to the tanker and the other available to assist, will keep the ships safe, even in the highly unlikely event of engine failure.
      Like many West Coasters, my wife and i treasure the unique and beautiful environment of the region, spending time kayaking its waters and anchoring our boat in its myriad coves. I'm not worried about adding one more oil tanker per day. But i do worry about the boat diesel, heavy bunker fuel ad chemical pollutants pumped from the bilges of the other 6,000 large ships that travel our waters each year, ships that are not nearly as closely scrutinized as those 35 Kinder Morgan tankers are sure to be.