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jerryking : oil_sands   13

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
Canada’s real wealth lies in its institutional integrity, not its resources - The Globe and Mail
BRIAN LEE CROWLEY
Canada’s real wealth lies in its institutional integrity, not its resources Add to ...
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Apr. 17 2014

Canada’s wealth, and the reason why the world beats a path to our resources, lies not in the resources themselves. What makes that endowment almost uniquely valuable in the world is that it exists within another vastly more important endowment of rules, institutions and behaviours.

My list of those institutions and behaviours include the rule of law; independent judges and reasonably speedy and reliable resolution of disputes; the enforcement of contract; the absence of corruption among government officials and the police; respect of private property; a moderate, predictable and stable taxation and regulatory burden; a stable currency that keeps its value; responsible public finances; freedom to trade both domestically and internationally; a well-developed work ethic; and a refusal to resort to violence to resolve political disagreements. That is the greatest endowment that we have.

What happens when you nest a rich natural resource endowment inside this endowment of rules, institutions and behaviours? Companies can invest billions of dollars to unlock opportunities, such as the oil sands, reasonably secure in the knowledge that they know the fiscal, regulatory and contractual conditions they will face over a period of years that are sufficient to recoup their investment and make some money.
natural_resources  institution-building  institutions  Canada  independent_judiciary  integrity  political_infrastructure  predictability  property_rights  civics  rule_of_law  institutional_integrity  work_ethic  oil_sands  judiciary  judges 
april 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
If BlackBerry is sold, Canada faces an innovation vacuum - The Globe and Mail
Aug. 17 2013 | The Globe and Mail | KONRAD YAKABUSKI.

The sale and breakup of a flagship technology company is a reoccurring theme in Canadian business. But this time is different. If BlackBerry Ltd. goes, there is no ready replacement. That’s a telling switch from the situation Canada faced with the sale of Newbridge Networks in 2000 and the demise of Nortel Networks in 2009....Canada has an innovation bottleneck. An abundance of science is generated in university labs and start-up firms but most of it never finds its way into commercial applications. Risk-averse banks and too many businesses of the bird-in-the-hand variety remain the weak links in Canada’s innovation system.

“We punch above our weight in idea generation,” observes Michael Bloom, who leads the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Business Innovation. “But the further you move towards commercialization, the weaker we get as a country.”....Innovation can be driven by any sector, even the old-economy resource extraction business of the oil sands. But tech firms remain by far the most R&D-intensive players in any economy.

Hence, the tech sector is a key barometer of a country’s innovation strength. And innovation matters because it has a profound influence on our living standards – it is “the key long-run driver of productivity and income growth,” ...Canadian businesses remain oddly complacent.

“We tend in this county not to look at the true market opportunity of innovation,” Mr. Bloom adds. “If you only see a market of 35 million people, you’re going to see more risk than if you see the market as Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Americans see risk, but also great opportunity.”

It’s no coincidence that many of Canada’s greatest entrepreneurs and innovators have been immigrants. Unlike his American counterpart, the average Canadian business graduate does not dream of becoming the next Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs or, for that matter, Peter Munk.

Mr. Lazaridis and ex-BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie notwithstanding, how many Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators have truly changed the world, or aspire? By all accounts, not that many. A Conference Board study released last month found that only 10 per cent of Canadian firms (almost all of them small ones) pursue “radical or revolutionary” innovations. Large firms focus at best on “incremental” innovations.
Blackberry  bottlenecks  commercialization  competitiveness_of_nations  complacency  hollowing_out  Konrad_Yakabuski  Newbridge  Nortel  innovation  idea_generation  ecosystems  breakthroughs  incrementalism  large_companies  sellout_culture  Jim_Balsillie  moonshots  immigrants  Canada  Peter_Munk  market_opportunities  weak_links  thinking_big  oil_sands  resource_extraction  marginal_improvements  innovation_vacuum  punch-above-its-weight  This_Time_is_Different 
august 2013 by jerryking
The decline and fall of Canada’s global corporate superstars - The Globe and Mail
Aug. 16 2013 | The Globe and Mail | Eric Reguly.

Here’s a depressing exercise: Scan the upper reaches of the Top 1000 companies in the July-August issue of Report on Business magazine and try to spot Canada’s global winners.

You could call them Canada’s corporate ambassadors, if they existed.

The short list is exceedingly short:
...Why does Canada, a Group of Seven country that encourages open markets, celebrates innovation and risk-taking, pumps fortunes into R&D, votes in business-friendly governments, is blessed with skilled workers and globally competitive tax rates and sits on the doorstep of the world’s largest market produce so pathetically few global corporate superstars?....It can take decades, a century even, to build a company like Inco or Dofasco. Don Argus, the former chairman of BHP Billiton of Australia, the world’s largest mining group, was right to denounce Canada’s sellout culture. “Canada has lost more head offices than any other country,” he said in 2008, at the height of the resources’ buying and selling spree. “Canada has already been reduced to an industry branch office and is largely irrelevant to the global mining stage.”

Of course, BlackBerry doesn’t really play into the hollowing out story. In retrospect, it should have foisted itself on Microsoft, Nokia or Amazon shortly after it became apparent to investors and tech geeks, if not to the deluded executives at BlackBerry itself, that the iPhone was here to stay. BlackBerry’s value destruction since then has been awe-inspiring. Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie were superb entrepreneurs, but failed at keeping the company competitive.

So why does Canada lack global champions? Don’t blame government policies. Blame the sellout culture, nice-guy directors with a propensity to protect the wrong executives at the wrong time and Canada’s classic lack of corporate self-confidence. The upshot is a country that turned into a one-trick pony – oil sands – with a few decent, protected banks and insurers at its side. If Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden can churn out global champions, Canada should be able to at least double the rate. The next BlackBerry is not just around the corner.
Blackberry  boards_&_directors_&_governance  brands  branch_plants  competitiveness_of_nations  decline  Eric_Reguly  G-7  global_champions  head_offices  hollowing_out  large_companies  multinationals  oil_sands  sellout_culture  superstars  value_destruction 
august 2013 by jerryking
She wants to clean up the oil sands, in a non-toxic fashion - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 26 2013 | Globe and Mail | MARJO JOHNE.

Marlene Luck, president of Northern Canadian Supplies Ltd. in Fort McMurray, Alta., has big plans for her business, which sells environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and equipment, and safety work gear such as fire resistant clothing and hard hats, to schools, hospitals and seniors residences.

Since its launch eight years ago, Northern Canadian Supplies, which has eight employees and $616,000 in annual revenue, has expanded into Saskatchewan and British Columbia and has built warehouses in five Canadian cities. Its product catalogue is now 1,700 pages thick and includes brands from global giants such as Procter & Gamble and 3M.
aboriginals  small_business  green  consumer_goods  women  environmentally_friendly  P&G  3M  non-toxic  oil_sands  environmental_services 
june 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 
march 2013 by jerryking
Only Harper can end pipeline politicking
Jul. 30 2012 | The Globe and Mail | JOHN IBBITSON.

A good chunk of Canada’s future economic growth hinges on exporting energy, with increased exports from the oil sands a crucial component of that growth. Enter the Prime Minister – that is, if he’s willing to take the cue.

For 45 years, Canadian politics was largely defined as an ongoing series of conflicts between Ottawa and the provinces: over national social programs under Lester B. Pearson; over repatriating the Constitution and Quebec separatism under Pierre Trudeau; over fixing the Constitution under Brian Mulroney; over renewed fears of separation under Jean Chrétien; over funding health care under Mr. Chretien and Paul Martin.

Enough, said Stephen Harper. His strategy as prime minister has been to leave the provinces alone. The best example is the Conservatives’ approach to health care. With the current funding formula set to expire in 2014, all 14 capitals were gearing up for months of negotiations. A source says that in the Finance Department, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office, advisers pored over the various strategies, every one of which was complicated, cumbersome and politically controversial.

Then someone suggested: Let’s just give them the money with a reasonable annual increase, and no strings attached. Mr. Harper seized the proposal. No national standards, no reporting mechanism and, best of all, no first ministers’ meeting, in which 13 premiers lock a prime minister in a room and grill him until he gives up the combination to the safe.
energy  Stephen_Harper  John_Ibbitson  pipelines  oil_sands 
july 2012 by jerryking
Obama signals new reliance on oil sands
Mar. 30, 2011| The Globe and Mail | SHAWN McCARTHY — GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER,
energy  consumption  U.S.  infographics  oil_sands  Obama 
april 2011 by jerryking
A church of heavy metal
February 28, 2011| globeadvisor.com | Gordon Pitts
The driving force behind a new oil sands upgrader has spent a lifetime collecting industrial machinery

GORDON PITTS
Gordon_Pitts  collectors  venture_capital  Calgary  Alberta  oil_sands  oil_industry 
march 2011 by jerryking

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