Author: Brian Zinchuk

Cenovus CEO: Without cheap, abundant, affordable energy, life is brutal. Life is short

The new CEO of Cenovus, Canada’s second largest oil producer and Saskatchewan’s largest (after they bought Husky during the COVID pandemic), tells it like it is. There’s a healthy dose of reality in his comments, but Cenovus is also leading the charge for carbon capture in the oilsands. He also likes the idea of nuclear reactors usage in the oilsands.

Health care and Georgia nukes

And now for two things completely different:

Pipeline Online columnist Brian Crossman broke his leg, twice, after a hip surgery, giving him some insight into what’s going on in Saskatchewan’s health care system. I don’t think he’ll be climbing any derricks any time soon.

And years late, billions over budget, Georgia’s two new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors (big ones, not ‘small modular reactors’) are finally going online. And while the story doesn’t mention this, there’s a major Saskatchewan tie. These two reactors going overbudget bankrupted Westinghouse, one of two nuclear reactor pioneers in the US (the other being General Electric). As a result of that bankruptcy, eventually last year, Saskatoon-based Cameco bought 49% of Westinghouse for a song.

This model is currently being built in China and being considered for substantial deployment in Poland. Three of these reactors, alone, at the highest rating, could make up almost the entire generation needs of Saskatchewan on most winter days. But if one went down, it would take down a third of our grid, which is why we never built big reactors.

Quick Dick McDick tells Steven Guilbeault to get bent

Saskatchewan’s own Quick Dick McDick offers his take on federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault. He talks about the implicit threat of criminal sanctions for keeping the power on, and how Guilbeault should know a thing or two about wearing handcuffs. Quick Dick picks up on a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing about recently.

Moe comes to Estevan to explain its power generation future

Scott Moe in Estevan

This past week the Saskatchewan government spent a lot of time on power generation and this “Net Zero by 2035” idea the federal government is trying to force upon the provinces.

This is the “energy transition” decision making in real time, folks. The impacts are enormous for this province, which is why I’ve been hammering these stories so hard.

The week summed up with Premier Scott Moe coming to Estevan to explain to local officials what the provincial government’s plans are for power production. For generations, Estevan has been home of the highest concentration of power generation in this province. However, the addition of multiple gas plants and wind facilities has largely diluted the percentage of power from Estevan. But as the province is clearly indicating a move towards nuclear, Moe all but said that Estevan will be home to some of the first small modular reactors. Pay attention to how he corrects himself from saying “nuclear” to “small modular reactors.” In this video, Moe addresses many of the concerns I’ve been raising over the last 17 months. As for adoption of nuclear – if future Saskatchewan governments follow Moe’s lead, this won’t be a small thing. Twenty years from now, as all our coal is retired and as older natural gas plants also reach retirement age, it looks like Saskatchewan will be moving to a largely nuclear grid for baseload power. And when Moe says baseload, he repeatedly refers to 80 per cent of the grid. That’s a lot more than four reactors down the road. That’s a sea change.

There’s also response from Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig on what this all means.


We’re going nuclear, but will handcuffs be involved if we keep burning coal?

Regarding this impending Clean Electricity Standard, which would force a massive energy transition in Saskatchewan in just 12 years:

Without committing to nuclear, Saskatchewan is pretty much committing to nuclear

Asking Scott Moe: What if the feds order power plants be shut down, and the Supreme Court backs them?

It turns out Steven Guilbeault has an answer for that: He said burning coal would be a violation of Canada’s Criminal Code. So will the feds be arresting the premier, SaskPower minister, SaskPower CEO, coal miners or power plant operators? All the above? And will they be arrested the same way Guilbeault was, when as a Greenpeace protestor, he scaled the CN Tower?

You get carbon capture, and you get carbon capture …

Boundary Dam Power Station

When the SaskPower Boundary Dam 3 carbon capture project opened in 2014, nobody followed. The tech looked doomed as recently as a few months ago. On May 11, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed that all coal and most natural gas power plants have carbon capture applied by 2038, or shut down.

Interestingly enough, last year, when I asked Crown Investments (and SaskPower) Minister Don Morgan if we would be doing any more carbon capture on coal, he said it was “not an option.” So, in Canada, it’s not an option, but in the US, it looks like it may soon be mandatory.

Why did SaskPower so quietly go ahead with a new power plant?

Aspen Power Station render. SaskPower

Is national unity at stake?

SaskPower will be building a new $850 million natural gas power station near Lanigan, starting in under a year. More than half of its power will go to the BHP Jansen potash mine, the crown jewel of Saskatchewan’s economy. But Steven Guilbeault and Justin Trudeau want to shut down all natural gas power stations by 2035.

Irresistible force is about to meet immovable object, and national unity is on the line.

Oh, and for good measure, Bill C-69 is involved.

Cameco buying Westinghouse is going to pay dividends, with new SMR

Last fall, Saskatoon-based Cameco bought 49% of Westinghouse for a song. Westinghouse was in rough shape over delays on a pair of US reactors that took decades. But one is now operational, the second will be in months, and the war in Ukraine, cutting off of Russian gas, and “climate change” means the whole world is waking up to a nuclear renaissance, in a big way. (That includes Saskatchewan). On Thursday, Westinghouse publicly released its competitor in the 300 megawatt small modular reactor space. And they say it can be had for about a billion US??? On Wednesday, SaskPower’s minister told the legislature he’s thinking GE-Hitachi’s might cost us all-in around $4.5 billion CDN, for similar size reactor. But that would include grid and other items, too.

Anyhow, Cameco has long been supplier of nuclear fuel, but buying Westinghouse made it enormously more vertically integrated. All this new nuclear could have tremendous impact in Saskatchewan.

Trudeau says we shouldn’t burn oil, but process it. And build lots of nuclear

Trudeau speaks of supplying natural gas to #Germany, despite his government killing Energie Saguenay. And he wants to build lots of #nuclear, too. And he wants carbon capture, but his government won’t allow enhanced oil recovery incentives. We shouldn’t burn oil, but process it. 
And he said all this in front of the German president, months after he told the German chancellor there was “no business case” for LNG.