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jerryking : oil_patch   9

Will we ever be proud of our oil sands? - The Globe and Mail
KONRAD YAKABUSKI
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jun. 23 2014

Unless politicians and industry do a better job at making the case for their exploitation, they will sow regional tensions and exacerbate a national malaise about the direction the country is heading.

The first step involves spelling out for Canadians just how critical the oil sands are to the national economy. In 2011, Albertans contributed $19-billion more to federal coffers than Ottawa spent in their province. No other province comes close to making as large a contribution to the federation. Indeed, at least seven out of 10 provinces are net beneficiaries of federal spending. Without Alberta’s wealth, federal transfers to have-not provinces would need to shrink, compromising the quality of life and public services for millions of Canadians.

Those who argue that other, cleaner industries would fill the economic vacuum if we shut down the oil sands ignore the fact that countries do best by exploiting their comparative advantages. Ours lie in resources. Though our technology sector has occasionally produced global success stories, our collective expertise still lies mainly in large-scale resource development.

Canadians, however, also want to be seen as conscientious global citizens. Our Prime Minister (if not this one, the next) could build a consensus behind developing the oil sands if he were to make shrinking its environmental footprint a national priority. Such a project would be a boon to domestic innovation, producing economic and social returns for the whole country.
oil_sands  oil_industry  Alberta  Konrad_Yakabuski  R&D  oil_patch  pride  economic_vacuum  comparative_advantage  natural_resources  resource_extraction  environmental_footprint 
june 2014 by jerryking
Oil Firms Pool R&D, Come Up Empty So Far - WSJ.com
Nov. 13, 2013 | WSJ | By Chester Dawson.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford earlier this year had pledged that the amount of tailings would stop growing by 2016 and that tailing ponds would "disappear from Alberta's landscape in the very near future."

But most industry officials say that is unlikely without major technological breakthroughs.

To help speed up efforts to reduce or reclaim tailings, Cosia's members have pledged to make all of their patented and propriety research available to one another in perpetuity, without charging royalties.

"That's a huge step by the industry and I can tell you big global companies thought long and hard before they did it—but they did," said Marcel Coutu, CEO of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the largest shareholder in major oil-sands producer Syncrude Canada Ltd.

But by creating a monopoly among oil-sands producers in environmental technology, some industry officials say that Cosia may actually stunt development—by discouraging innovation from third parties who are unwilling to surrender their patents wholesale.

"It's not to our benefit to spend a whole lot of money on R&D and then just hand it over," said Preston McEachern, research director at Tervita Corp., a Calgary-based environmental services provider. "That, to us, is a real bar against bringing new innovations forward and helping achieve these great outcomes," he told attendees at a recent oil-sands conference in Fort McMurray.
oil_industry  R&D  oil_sands  joint_ventures  oil_patch  patents  third-party  collaboration  Alberta  innovation  pooling  environmental_services 
november 2013 by jerryking
True innovation doesn’t flow from a pipeline
Feb. 22 2013 | The Globe and Mail |Konrad Yakabuski.

... If the oil companies can’t ship raw Canadian resources using that 150-year-old technology, they will rely on an even older one – rail. And if not rail, they might just float their bitumen on barges down the Mississippi.

Huckleberry Finn might have marvelled at this inventiveness, but it doesn’t quite cut it as a 21st-century national strategy for wealth creation. Yet our frantic obsession with exporting minimally processed bitumen is sucking up all the oxygen in the national conversation. Getting Alberta’s oil to market is “the most important economic issue” facing the country, says former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice. There is “no more critical issue facing Canada today,” adds Enbridge chief executive Al Monaco.

In fact, the most critical issue facing Canada today may just be figuring out why we find ourselves in this situation. Raw resources can be a tremendous source of income, but they are volatile, and we’ve always known that overreliance on them is a recipe for economic stuntedness. As Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney says: “Real wealth is built through innovation.”

Innovation is not wholly absent from Canada’s oil patch. But it’s hardly a first line of business. You’d think it would be a top priority, given the vexatious characteristics of Alberta bitumen, the oil sands’ distressing environmental footprint and the Canadian industry’s growing global image problem. Even in boom times, however, the Canadian oil and gas industry spends a piddling proportion of its revenues on research and development......Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that the coming boom in global shale oil production could slash the price of crude by $50 (U.S.) a barrel over the next two decades. “One effect will be to cut the need for expensive, environmentally destructive extraction techniques like the Arctic and tar sands,” the head of PwC’s oil and gas team told Reuters.... the real issue facing Ontario is its failure to make the shift from making low-tech goods to advanced manufacturing, the only kind that can support middle-class wages. Governments have showered the industry with tens of billions of dollars trying to make Canadian firms more innovative, to little avail. Cash-strapped and fed up, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty slashed R&D tax credits in last year’s budget. The result will be even less innovation, as domestic companies cut back and foreign-owned firms shift R&D elsewhere.

“Canada’s problem,” says Robert Atkinson, the author of Innovation Economics, “is that it’s not Germany, which has a much better engineering innovation system, and it’s not the U.S., which has a very good system of science-based entrepreneurship. You’re mediocre in both.”
Keystone_XL  pipelines  crossborder  oil_industry  Mark_Carney  Ontario  innovation  oil_patch  wealth_creation  books  natural_gas  natural_resources  fracking  shale_oil  hydraulic_fracturing  Konrad_Yakabuski  oil_sands  complacency  mediocrity  commodities  volatility  cash-strapped  national_strategies  environmental_footprint  science-based 
march 2013 by jerryking
Disrupting the pipeline business - The Globe and Mail
NATHAN VANDERKLIPPE

The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Jun. 28 2012
disruption  pipelines  oil_industry  oil_patch 
september 2012 by jerryking

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