Tag: energy policy

With oil prices at $94 a barrel, why is industry activity akin to when it was half of that?

In the last week I’ve spoke to some of the most knowledgeable people I know in the Saskatchewan oilpatch, business owners all, from Weyburn, Lloydminster and several from Estevan. There’s a rising chorus of dissatisfaction amongst them. Things should be booming in this province’s oilpatch, but they aren’t. And this disquiet could threaten the governing Saskatchewan Party with the potential loss of a key portion of its base.

Watch for a Part 2 to this tomorrow.

How many nukes SaskPower is looking at, and switching from coal to natural gas

SaskPower president and CEO Rupen Pandya was in Estevan on Monday, and there’s a lot to unpack from that. He told city council how many reactors are being considered at Estevan and Elbow (SaskPower is currently planning for their first 2). And converting Estevan area power stations to natural gas could allow us to test carbon capture on natural gas exhaust. But that would mean the end of coal at Estevan.

The impact of CO2-enhanced oil recovery is huge

It turns out that carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery is more significant than even I thought, and I’ve been writing about if for 15 years. It accounts for a huge number of the top 100 conventional oil wells in Saskatchewan. Huge. And it proves out the significance and importance of CO2-EOR. Imagine what we could do across Saskatchewan with access to a lot more CO2? That’s going to have to be a column, methinks. 

Also, oil is over US$90/barrel for the first time in quite a while. That’s going to be pretty important for Saskatchewan, as I was made aware today that potash prices have tanked. They are down by half year over year.

Poilievre will push LNG, SMRs, hydro dams and continued oil production

Pierre Poilievre. Screenshot from YouTube

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre took some time to speak about energy during his keynote speech to the Conservative national policy convention in Quebec City on Sept. 8. In those comments, he spoke about natural liquefaction extensively, as well as small modular reactors, hydroelectricity, tidal power and oil production. He mentioned more wind power, but did not speak of solar power generation. He also referred to producing minerals for electrification in Canada instead of China. This was an oblique reference to lithium, without actually mentioning lithium.

Steven Guilbeault. Screenshot from CPAC


If you didn’t catch it – Steven Guilbeault crashed the Conservative policy convention in Quebec City. He wondered if Pierre Poilievre believed in climate change. Here’s some of what he had to say.

Alberta’s E3 Lithium might be first out of the gate with a pilot lithium plant, but several are in the works for Saskatchewan. And E3’s stated lithium concentration is 74.5 mg/L, while at Coleville, SK, Grounded Lithium also reports 74 mg/L. Arizona Lithium says they have up to 172 mg/L at Torquay. Hub City Lithium says it has concentrations of up to 259 mg/L at Viewfield (Stoughton). From Canadian Press: Alberta enters global lithium race with opening of first extraction pilot project.

A geologist I know once told me “All things being equal, Alberta has better rocks (than Saskatchewan).” Perhaps that’s true for oil, but it could be the inverse for lithium. Time will tell.

And from the Associated Press – Apparently the Germans figure they can get rid of fossil fuel heating. This, in a nation that doesn’t get much sun or wind, but had been building solar and wind facilities like crazy while shutting down all its nuclear plants. To quote C-3P0, “This is madness!”


9 times in 3 weeks: how many times Texans have been warned the lights might go out

Supper in Texas on Wednesday: for the 9th time in 3 weeks, the lights are in danger of going out due to high temperatures and low wind power generation.

Well, that’s what I initially wrote. Then the Texas grid literally went into “red alert,” as the frequency started to drop and reserves fell perilously low. If the frequency goes too low, generating plants would start to trip off in cascading failures, leading to massive blackouts. Thankfully, they got it under control.

Also: Pipeline Online editor Brian Zinchuk on John Gormley Live talking about oil prices, drilling activity, carbon capture, grid alerts, and dramatically more nuclear power generation possible in Saskatchewan.

And if you missed it, Enbridge snapped up three natural gas utilities in the US. Funny how they’re spending big money in the US, but not Canada…


SaskPower and Whitecap strike deal on CO2 sale and purchase

Good news for Weyburn Unit, Whitecap, SaskPower, Weyburn and Estevan:

Whitecap Resources to buy CO2 from SaskPower until 2035, providing market for SaskPower’s BD3.

I did some in-depth analysis on the broader picture on all this, especially how carbon pricing in the US and Canada affect the economics.

Remember, the CO2 is used for enhanced oil recovery, dramatically extending the life of an oilfield that has now been producing over 65 years. And FYI, my kid found work with a oilfield company that’s worked in the Weyburn Unit for 62 years, give or take. I hope she can make a career there as a heavy duty mechanic.

A while ago I pointed out on Gormley that lower oil prices were definitely going to have an impact on Saskatchewan’s finances. I was right, as finances are down a half billion from budget.

Also, the feds just dished out $30 million for 1500 EV chargers in Quebec. Because of course they did.

So let’s see here, the federal government, with our tax dollars, have dished out money for EV manufacturers, battery plants, rebates on the EVs themselves, and now chargers. Is there anything they’ve missed? Maybe you get a car! And you get a car! Might have to do a column on this.

And, on the topic of the feds, after slow walking its construction for years, all of a sudden there’s a serious panic to get the Trans Mountain Pipeline complete and operating. Well, from what I understand, good luck with that.

Rolling blackouts again threaten Alberta and Texas on Tuesday

The energy transition continues: Alberta issues second electrical grid alert in two days. Texas also issued a grid alert on the same day. Funny, that. The two most energy-rich jurisdictions in the hemisphere, and perhaps the planet, are struggling to keep the lights on. Again.

Oh, and Texans have been warned: expect the same on Wednesday.

Why do I keep writing about this? Because people need it beat into their heads “The emperor has no clothes!”

Saskatchewan sees 87% power from coal and natural gas as wind fails in SK, AB and Texas

Wind turbine. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

In Saskatchewan, Poplar River Power Station is now fully online again, which is good, because on Aug. 22, when wind generation fell to less than 1 per cent capacity, natural gas and coal made up 87 per cent of power generation. And of course, Alberta saw its wind production fall below 1 per cent, again.

Texas and Alberta have more oil, gas and coal than God, because God gave all his to Texas and Alberta. And yet “grid alerts” are becoming the norm in both, as they’ve both built out tremendous amounts of  wind power, and the wind doesn’t blow. On Sunday, Texas issued its form of grid alert.

But remember, the Canadian government says we must abandon coal and natural gas for wind and solar.

Saskatchewan could be going nuclear in a big way

First, Saskatchewan was considering four small modular reactors. Then the SaskPower minister said maybe as many as nine. Now Premier Scott Moe is floating the idea of large scale, 1000 megawatt reactors.

And the province just coughed up some money to help develop a domestic nuclear supply chain within Saskatchewan.

Also, Crescent Point Energy grew up in the Bakken, and at one point was briefly Saskatchewan’s largest oil producer. Well, they just sold all their North Dakota Bakken assets. Anyone want to start a pool as to when they will sell off remaining assets in Saskatchewan?

What do you call one-third of one per cent?

Ding ding ding! The amount of power output Alberta’s wind farms were putting out at noon on Tuesday. But the feds want us to get rid of all coal and natural gas power generation! And it was like that for around 10 hours! Whoo hoo, more wind!

And from the other side of the spectrum, the development of lithium into a potential multi-billion dollar industry in Saskatchewan continues apace, as Hub City Lithium announced test results from its second well north of Estevan which confirmed numbers from the first – and that one had the highest concentrations reported in Canada for lithium brines. But there’s a curious wild card here – it’s right beside the Viewfield Crater, an astrobleme from 190 million years ago. There’s only a handful of known craters in Canada, and this is one. Discussion in the story.

A small drop in a very large nuclear bucket

Jonathan Wilkinson. Photo by Brian Zinchuk


Four reactors could cost Saskatchewan $12 to $20 billion. The feds just gave us $74 million. But don’t worry, the money came from Guilbeault and Wilkinson. At least, those were the ministers quoted.

In the above, you will see that in 26 years, four months and 10 days, Saskatchewan could need as many as 27.5 nuclear reactors. At $3 to $5 billion a crack. Good luck, with that.

Also, Yukon might connect to the BC, and thereby national, electrical grid.

And Ford just milked the federal and Quebec EV cow for $1.2 billion

Demanding the impossible on power generation

Boundary Dam Unit 3 capture plant. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

Are the federal Clean Electricity Standards, brought in by Steven Guilbeault and Jonathan Wilkinson, impossible to meet? Pipeline Online asked SaskPower.

“The CER would require SaskPower to effectively rebuild our entire power system, through retiring the majority of our existing generating units and replacing them with new, ultra-low emitting units or non-emitting energy sources, while also growing the system to support expanding electricity needs that are expected to support growing demand for clean electricity for industrial needs, transportation, increased customer participation and other needs.”

Grand sweeping fairytales – Smith calls a spade a spade on renewables

Danielle Smith: Grand sweeping fairytales that threaten Canadians ability to keep the lights on are no way to speed things up.

I’ll have more on that pretty impressive press conference as I have time.

As well, some oil companies aren’t doing too badly, as Saturn Oil & Gas reports it has tripled its production in a year.

Also, in last week’s Crown mineral rights land sale in Saskatchewan, one, singular exploration permit went for over $6 million. The last time I saw numbers like that for one piece of land was like during the Bakken boom of 2008. It’s simply unheard of in the last 15 years to see a single parcel, even an exploratory permit, go for that much. In recent years, we’d be lucky if a few dozen leases, combined, would make up a total of $6 million. So this is verrrrry interesting. It was near Kindersley, by the way.

Clean Electricity Regulations released: carbon capture or bust

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Julie Dabrusin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Luke Barber, Chief Operating Officer, University of Toronto and Scott Hendershot, Senior Manager, Sustainability Office, University of Toronto, standing together on a rooftop covered in solar panels. Government of Canada handout

Clean Electricity Regulations released: carbon capture needed for continued fossil fuel power generation. #Saskatchewan will not “defy the laws of thermodynamics,” says Premier Scott Moe.

I still need to dig deep into this. I’ve sent a list of questions to SaskPower and the provincial government seeking response next week, as this dropped just as we’re packing to head to the cabin. Because of course they would release it during the dog days of August.

Note: these regulations expect the electrical grid demand to grow by 2.5x in 26 years, three months and 21 days. Good luck with that. Expect a column next week.

Seeing the other side’s playbook – Project of the Century

Ever want to see the other team’s playbook? Project of the Century (report link)– the most comprehensive discussion of energy transition we’ve seen to date, was published by the Public Policy Forum. It’s principally about doubling the electrical grid, or more, but doing so without increasing fossil fuel emissions. The dollar figure is up to $1.7 trillion – with a ‘t’ – mostly from federal taxpayer dollars.

Here’s the story on it:  https://pipelineonline.ca/project-of-the-century-the-most-comprehensive-discussion-of-energy-transition-weve-seen-to-date/

This is the closest I’ve seen to what the federal Liberal government is trying to accomplish with the “energy transition.” Some of Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson’s speech and discussion in Regina and Kipling at the end of June was almost word for word from this paper, before the paper was published.

This has huge implications for Saskatchewan and Alberta. Part of the interview focuses on how net zero by 2035 is impossible.

I spoke to the CEO and one of the authors on July 26. Here’s the in-depth interview. I’ll next be posting an analysis by Jim Warren on this, then likely one of my own.

Editor’s note: Pipeline Online has requested permission from the Public Policy Forum to publish the entire Project of the Century report, in serial form. That permission has not yet been granted, despite the Public Policy Forum’s webpage copyright notice stating, “The Public Policy Forum encourages interested parties to use, in whole or in part, its publications, data, images and other content to further dialogue on public policy in Canada. We require that the PPF is properly cited and acknowledged. In all instances, the PPF would like to be notified of the use of its publications and data.”  

They won’t give me a straight answer as to why they won’t let me publish it, when that is clearly their policy. Wonder why that is?

Update Aug. 8, 2023, 10:30 a.m. Since Pipeline Online made the above request, Public Policy Forum has updated its copyright notice. It now states, “Copyright – The Public Policy Forum retains copyright of our publications. For permission to publish a report excerpt, please contact us at: ppforum@ppforum.ca