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Cenovus boosts oil output plans on Alberta move to curtailment relief for rail

Cenovus Energy Inc. says it will add as much as 70,000 barrels per day of oilsands output following the Alberta government’s decision to ease production curtailments for producers that add crude-by-rail capacity.

The company can quickly add 10,000 to 20,000 bpd of raw bitumen output from its Christina Lake and Foster Creek northeastern Alberta thermal oilsands projects, said CEO Alex Pourbaix during a conference call Oct. 31 after the decision was announced.

Meanwhile, it plans to begin startup procedures on its $675-million, 50,000-barrel-per-day Christina Lake phase G oilsands expansion project with production expected within six to 12 months.

Construction of the expansion was completed earlier this year but commissioning was put on hold until market access questions were answered.

“We think it’s a great way to incent further rail takeway capacity out of Alberta and we applaud the government for moving forward with this initiative,” said Pourbaix.

He added the move doesn’t remove the necessity of building more oil export pipelines.

Under the previous NDP government, Alberta put a cap on the amount of oil the industry can produce starting in January as a way to narrow local price discounts that grew as oil production exceeded the ability of pipelines to get the crude to market.

The measure was continued by the United Conservative government when it was elected last spring. The total industry quota is to increase to 3.81 million barrels per day in December, up 250,000 bpd from the original limit of 3.56 million barrels a day.

“Overall, we believe this program will be an important addition to the efforts to increase market access,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage. “Looking ahead, maximizing the amount of crude shipped by rail is an important factor in moving forward towards an orderly exit out of curtailment altogether, which, under the enhanced policy, is scheduled to be concluded by the end of December 2020.”

Alberta currently ships around 310,000 barrels per day on rail, she said, but the rail system has the capacity for daily shipments of 500,000 to 600,000 barrels.

The new program is to be available as of Dec. 1 and operators will need to apply on a monthly basis and verify their rail shipments.

The province is still working on a plan to divest railcar contracts signed by the NDP government, Savage said.

Suncor Energy Inc. CEO Mark Little also welcomed the Alberta initiative, which had been requested by several oilsands producers earlier this year.

“I think this is a very positive development because the whole purpose of curtailment was to reduce production to align with the takeaway capacity,” he said during a conference call Oct. 31.

“But I think we all know that ever since that was implemented, the takeaway capacity in Western Canada has declined, which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen when you have excess production.”

Between 200,000 and 300,000 bpd of additional rail could be brought to market to accompany about 200,000 bpd of incremental pipeline capacity additions, Little said.

He added Suncor will work to fill its currently contracted capacity of 30,000 bpd on rail “in the next month or two.”

In third-quarter results released last week afternoon, Suncor cut its production guidance for 2019 to a mid-point of 785,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from 800,000 boe/d, in part because of curtailments that have been in place for longer than anticipated.

In addition, Husky Energy Inc. CEO Rob Peabody said his company was directing most of its spending to regions other than in Alberta because of the curtailments.


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Major oil company plans 7 wells in Alaska petroleum reserve

A major oil company will drill seven new exploratory wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

ConocoPhillips is planning the work for this winter, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported .

The wells will be focused on the prospective Harpoon area southwest of the company’s existing projects in the reserve, ConocoPhillips Alaska Vice-President Scott Jepsen said during a presentation last week to the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. The wells will better delineate the large Willow prospect.

“We want to get more confidence around the geology and reservoir characteristics of the field, so that’s one of the reasons we pushed back our startup date to around 2025-2026 now for the Willow development,” Jepsen said.

ConocoPhillips announced the Willow discovery in early 2017. The company estimates it could produce 130,000 barrels per day at its peak.

Other company plans call for shooting three-dimensional seismic data around the Putu prospect near the village of Nuiqsut. The work will require about 165 miles (265 kilometres) of ice roads, Jepsen said.

“Hopefully the weather will co-operate and we’ll be able to accomplish all this,” he said.

ConocoPhillips in June announced purchase of the Nuna project from Dallas-based independent Caelus Energy. Caelus sanctioned Nuna in March 2105 and indicated that it had authorized $480 million of expenditures on the project to that point. Caelus estimated up to 20,000 barrels per day from the project.

Jepsen said Nuna will be part of the Kuparuk River Unit and its oil will be processed through Kuparuk facilities, lowering development cost. Drilling will be done from the Nuna pad and a Kuparuk pad to minimize new infrastructure costs.

The company expects 400 labourers over one winter construction season will be able to prep the project for first production in 2022.

 


UK, France Germany blame Iran for Saudi oil attacks

Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, but the Iranian foreign minister pointed to claims of responsibility by Yemeni rebels and said: “If Iran were behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery.”

Fallout from the Sept. 14 attacks is still reverberating as world leaders gather for their annual meeting at the U.N. General Assembly and international experts investigate, at Saudi Arabia’s request, what happened and who was responsible.

The leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany released a statement reaffirming their support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the U.S. exited, but telling Iran to stop breaching it and saying “there is no other plausible explanation” than that “Iran bears responsibility for this attack.”

They pledged to try to ease tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to “refrain from choosing provocation and escalation.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said late Sunday while flying to New York that the U.K. would consider taking part in a U.S.-led military effort to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defences after the drone and cruise missile attacks on the world’s largest oil processor and an oil field.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denied any part in the attacks. He said Monday that Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility, “have every reason to retaliate” for the Saudi-led coalition’s aerial attacks on their country.

He also stressed that on the eve of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the United Nations in New York City “it would be stupid for Iran to engage in such activity.”

Zarif called it an attack “with high precision, low impact” and no casualties. In the refinery, there were facilities that would have taken the Saudis a year to repair, he said. “Why did they hit the lowest impact places?” Zarif asked, saying if Iran was responsible, the refinery would have been destroyed.

France has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to U.S.-Iranian tensions, which soared after the Saudi attacks, and has carefully avoided assigning blame.

Earlier on his way to New York, French President Emmanuel Macron said he remained “cautious” about attributing responsibility for the attacks. There was no immediate explanation of why he later shifted positions and blamed Iran.

Macron said at a U.N. news conference not long before the statement was issued that he planned to meet separately with both Trump and Rouhani over the next day and would work to foster “the conditions for discussion” and not escalation.

Macron called the Sept. 14 strikes “a game-changer, clearly” but reiterated France’s willingness to mediate.

Zarif, however, ruled out any Iran-U.S. meeting. He said Iran had received no request from the U.S., “and we have made clear that a request alone will not do the job.”

He said Trump “closed the door to negotiations” with the latest U.S. sanctions, which labeled the country’s central bank a “global terrorist” institution – a designation the Iranian minister said the U.S. president and his successors may not be able to change.

“I know that President Trump did not want to do that. I know he must have been misinformed,” Zarif said in a meeting with U.N. correspondents.

Zarif said he plans to meet Sept. 25 with ministers of all five countries remaining in the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew, including Russia and China.

Johnson, the U.K. prime minister, said Britain still backs the existing nuclear agreement and wants Iran to stick to its terms but urged Trump to strike a new deal with Iran.

“Whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal,” he said.

Asked about Johnson’s suggestion, Trump said he respects the British leader and believes the current agreement expires too soon.

The joint U.K., France, Germany statement urges Iran to reverse its rollback on key provisions in the 2015 nuclear deal and calls for a new agreement.

“The time has come for Iran to accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery,” the three countries said.

Shortly before leaving for the U.N. meetings Monday, Iran’s Rouhani said on state television that his country will invite Persian Gulf nations to join an Iranian-led coalition “to guarantee the region’s security.”

Rouhani said the plan also encompasses economic co-operation and an initiative for “long term” peace. He planned on presenting details while at the United Nations.

Zarif said the new Hormuz Peace Initiative – with the acronym HOPE – would be formed under a U.N. umbrella with two underlying principles: nonaggression and noninterference. He said it would require a major shift from countries “buying” security from other nations or mercenaries and instead promote the notion that “you can gain security relying on your own people and working with your neighbours.”

Johnson said he would meet Rouhani at this week’s U.N. gathering. He said he wanted Britain to be “a bridge between our European friends and the Americans when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf.”

Johnson stressed the need for a diplomatic response to the Gulf tensions but said Britain would consider any request for military help.

The Trump administration announced Friday that it would send additional U.S. troops and missile defence equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as part of a “defensive” deployment. Officials said the number of troops was likely to be in the hundreds.

“We will be following that very closely,” Johnson said. “And clearly if we are asked, either by the Saudis or by the Americans, to have a role, then we will consider in what way we could be useful.”

A U.K. official told The Associated Press that a claim of responsibility for the attacks by Iran-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen was “implausible.” He said remnants of Iran-made cruise missiles were found at the attack site, and “the sophistication points very, very firmly to Iranian involvement.”

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence findings, did not say whether Britain believed the attack was launched from Iranian soil. Iran denies responsibility and has warned any retaliatory attack targeting it will result in an “all-out war.”

Meanwhile Monday, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei suggested the release of a British-flagged oil tanker held by Tehran since July would be imminent, though he doesn’t know when it will leave.

The Stena Impero has not turned on its satellite-tracking beacon in 58 days and there has not been any sign that it has left its position near Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the vessel after authorities in Gibraltar seized an Iranian crude oil tanker. That ship has since left Gibraltar, leading to hopes the Stena Impero would be released.


Producers still cautious despite higher Q2 expectations on stronger oil prices

Higher oil prices are expected to boost cash flow for the large Canadian crude producers as they roll out second-quarter results beginning next week, but analysts say the extra money is unlikely to be added to growth budgets.

Canadian oil prices steadied in comparison with U.S. benchmarks in the three months ended June 30 following two quarters of volatility blamed on the failure of pipeline capacity to match growing oilsands output and Alberta’s decision to impose production limits starting in January.

“Despite the increase in the commodity prices and constructive outlook for the second half of 2019, with expected inventory drawdowns to further support crude, producers remain cautious and are unlikely to increase spending imminently,” said analyst Nick Lupick of AltaCorp Capital.

“Looking to attract investors back into the Canadian explorer and producer space, management teams are focusing on free cash flow generation and returning value to shareholders during this uncertain commodity environment.”

At an energy conference in Calgary last week, a panel of representatives of major oil companies said they are more focused on dividend increases and share buybacks than spending to drill wells given ongoing market access problems and low share prices.

“In this market –  and I think everybody appreciates just how discounted the entire Canadian market is – clearly buying back shares is a great use of our cash,” said Mark Little, chief executive of Suncor Energy Inc.

Suncor’s share price has tumbled 22% over the past year while the S&P/TSX capped energy index is down more than 31%.

“Really, it’s about a balanced approach, not getting too aggressive on the growth side until you have more market access,” said Steve Laut, executive vice-chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

The second-quarter earnings parade starts July 24 with Suncor Energy Inc., followed by Cenovus and Husky Energy Inc. the next day.

RBC Dominion Securities calculates that U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude prices averaged US$59.84 per barrel in the second quarter, up nine% from the first quarter.

Canadian prices rose more dramatically, with Edmonton Par light oil up 11% and Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend heavy oil up 16%.

Upgraded Syncrude synthetic oilsands crude traded at near-par with WTI during the quarter, RBC reported.

“With free cash flow taking centre stage amongst energy investors, MEG Energy (Corp.) and Cenovus (Energy Inc.) are both standouts, in part given robust WCS prices in the quarter,” said RBC analyst Greg Pardy in a report.

“MEG may generate more operating cash flow in the second-quarter ($209 million) than it did in all of 2018.”

Natural gas producers, however, are expected to see more dismal results as Alberta spot gas prices averaged 60% less in the second quarter than in the first, according to analyst Michael Harvey, who covers mid-sized energy producers for RBC.

Average cash flows for his group are expected to fall by about 19% due to lower prices for natural gas and liquids produced with gas, he said, with oil-weighted intermediate producers down eight% and gas-weighted companies down 30%.

 


‘We’re deeply sorry:’ Husky fined $3.8M for leak into North Saskatchewan River

Husky Energy was fined $3.8 million for a pipeline oil leak that fouled a major river, harmed fish and wildlife and tainted the drinking water supply for thousands of people in Saskatchewan.

“We recognize that the spill had a significant impact on communities along the North Saskatchewan River and we’re deeply sorry for that,” Duane Rae, the company’s vice-president of pipelines, said outside court in Lloydminster, Sask.

“We’ve been working hard since that day to try to set things right.”

The spill into the North Saskatchewan River in July 2016 forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.

Calgary-based Husky pleaded guilty to three environmental charges: two under federal migratory birds and fisheries legislation and one under a provincial law for releasing a harmful substance.

The federal Crown withdrew seven other charges.

About 225,000 litres of diluted heavy oil spilled from Husky’s pipeline near Maidstone in west-central Saskatchewan. The company said about 40% made it into the river and more than 90% of the oil was recovered.

Provincial court Judge Lorna Dyck accepted a joint recommendation from lawyers on an amount for the fine.

“This case has been a difficult and a challenging one for a number of reasons,” she said in her decision.

She noted that two alarms had gone off but were not recorded or reported to senior staff.

“Once the leak was discovered, Husky acted quickly and properly,” said the judge. “I believe Husky has learned from this mistake.”

“There’s no doubt it has had a detrimental affect on Husky’s reputation and on the industry as a whole,” said Rae. “We have expended a lot of money on the cleanup – over $140 million.”

A victim impact statement filed by three Indigenous communities in the area said the cleanup wasn’t good enough. Chief Wayne Semaganis spoke on behalf of his Little Pine First Nation and also for the Sweetgrass and Red Pheasant bands.

He said birds, wildlife and fish still suffer the effects of the contamination and the First Nations have lost traditional use of their land.

“We no longer fish in the river. We no longer trap on or near reserve lands. We no longer farm on or near reserve lands,” he said. “We no longer drink water drawn from reserve lands.”

Semaganis said the Indigenous communities remain anxious, fearful and psychologically stressed.

The cities of North Battleford and Prince Albert also filed victim impact statements that were read out by the Crown.

“The impact was dire, ongoing and will cause long-lasting changes to procedures and processes,” said the statement from North Battleford’s city manager James Puffalt.

Prince Albert’s statement said the spill caused significant disruption and stress for residents and had considerable costs.

Spray parks were closed at the peak of the summer holidays. Laundromats were shut down. Car washes couldn’t operate and businesses had to close.

“The city was forced to implement its emergency operations centre,” said the statement.

The city also had to lay temporary lines to two nearby rivers for drinking water.

Saskatchewan prosecutor Matthew Miazga told court there has never been an environmental event as significant in the province.

“Literally tens of thousands of people downstream were impacted.”

Environment Canada investigator Jeff Puetz said staff put their full effort into getting information.

“We did search warrants and gathered tens of thousands of copies of documents from Husky in order to get enough evidence,” he said.

The company said the pipeline buckled and leaked because of ground movement.

The line was allowed to reopen in October 2016 after being repaired and inspected.

Husky CEO Rob Peabody noted in a release that the oil and gas producer has been doing business in the Lloydminster region for more than 70 years.

“We understand that some people think we could have done better. After having such a long and successful history in this region, the event three years ago was a disappointment for all of us.”

He added that the company has made improvements that include an updated leak response protocol, regular geotechnical reviews of pipelines and fibre optic sensing technology.

 


Environment groups say oil industry asks will lead to ‘climate chaos’

Several of Canada’s leading environment groups say election demands from Canada’s oil industry earlier this week are a direct attack on the future health and prosperity of Canadians.

The different visions for Canada’s economic and environmental policies are a preview of the federal election campaign to come, in which the fossil-fuel sector and environment groups are expected to play central and conflicting roles.

Environment groups want the federal government to bar new pipelines and slowly wind down production in the oil sector while ramping up investments in and exports of cleaner, renewable energy technologies.

“If our goal is to limit global warming we need to be retiring fossil fuels,” said Dale Marshall, national program manager at Environmental Defence.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers on Monday issued its “election platform,” calling for all parties to come up with a long-term vision for oil and gas that includes displacing foreign imports with Canadian fuels and ramping up production and building pipelines so Canada can export more.

The association’s president Tim McMillan argued Canadian oil is produced with higher environmental standards so it is better for the environment if foreign countries buy and use it rather than the fuels produced in countries with lower standards.

McMillan said emerging markets in India, China and Southeast Asia are increasing demand for fossil fuels and Canada should be ready to fill that need.

More than half a dozen environment groups pushed back Wednesday, urging political parties to reject the petroleum industry’s vision.

Marshall said investing in clean and renewable energy that can be exported will result in the same economic benefits without the accompanying climate harms.

He also said the idea that Canada’s oil is cleaner than others’ is a fallacy and that producing more oil for export is not the responsible way to go.

“I would say straight-up that the agenda put forward in this document by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is a recipe for climate chaos,” said Marshall.

Each side denies favouring any one party. However Marshall acknowledged that climate and environment plans put forward by the Green Party and the NDP “could have been written by the environment community.”

The Liberals and Conservatives haven’t yet released environment platforms for the election, though the Liberals’ carbon price is a central part of their brand.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer promises a major speech on the environment later this month. However much of the vision in the CAPP plan – in particular to expand Canadian exports and replace foreign oil with Canadian production – is directly in line with the vision Scheer put forward in a recent speech on the economy.

Scheer was criticized earlier this year for having a closed-door strategy session with oil executives in Calgary to develop plans to oust the Liberals. McMillan attended that meeting but his presence was downplayed by the organization as part of CAPP’s open strategy to promote Canadian oil and gas.

Marshall said “it’s worrisome” that the Conservatives are so closely tied to the interests of one industry.


Premiers Kenney, Moe to work together on rig rules as they meet in Saskatchewan

Premiers Moe and Kenney.

Premiers Moe and Kenney.

The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are pledging to harmonize regulations governing the movement of oil and gas rigs in the two provinces.

Jason Kenney and Scott Moe have signed a memorandum of understanding noting that some commercial trucking rules are not suitable for service rigs, which spend most of the time in a field, not on a road.

The goal is to make it easier for rigs to be moved from job site to job site in both provinces without getting bogged down by two sets of rules.

The agreement was signed as Kenney and Moe appeared together at an oil trade show in Weyburn, Sask.

The two conservative premiers praised the policies of their respective governments, while taking shots at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal carbon tax.

Both heralded their support for pipelines and say they are confident the federal government will approve the stalled construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion by the June 18 deadline.


Legault announces plan to electrify Quebec’s economy, reduce oil consumption

The Quebec government will reduce oil consumption in the province by 40% by 2030 through a vast program to shift transportation systems, buildings and businesses to hydroelectricity, Premier Francois Legault announced Sunday as his party held a general council meeting in Montreal.

Legault said his plan to “electrify Quebec” will require massive investments, which he said could be unlocked by reviewing the management of the government’s Green Fund and by increasing funding for infrastructure planning.

He said that from now on his government will only finance public transit projects that are electric and that are built mostly in Quebec, and will take steps to ensure that all new public buildings be powered by clean energy as of 2020.

“I want that in four years, it will be said that no government has realized as many public transit projects as the Coalition Avenir Quebec government,” Legault said in a speech to 1,300 party members.

Legault said he’s tasked his transport minister with seven different projects, including the expansion of an existing subway line and a light-rail system being built in Montreal, as well as tramway projects for Quebec City and Montreal’s South Shore.

The premier told reporters after the speech that he would look for a way to increase the involvement of local companies in these projects, pointing out that the United States requires 65 to 70% local content.

“We have to see what the laws allow,” he said.

Quebecers who live outside major urban centres and who do not have access to public transportation will benefit from further incentives to buy electric vehicles, he added.

The government estimates that a million electric vehicles could reduce oil consumption by 6%.

Legault said his government would also put incentives in place to encourage owners of residential and commercial properties, as well as those in the industrial and agriculture sectors, to switch from heating oil to hydroelectricity, and called for more innovation and new technologies to aid in the transition.

The premier, who has sought to position Quebec as the “green battery of North America,” also said he was confident he’d be able to reach deals to sell Quebec hydroelectricity to Ontario and New York City.

He said he would offer Ontario “a deal they can’t refuse: cheaper energy and clean energy.”

Last fall, Legault proposed a plan to sell Quebec hydroelectricity to Ontario so the province could avoid costly repairs to its nuclear power plants, but the proposal was rejected by Doug Ford’s government.

 


Green’s call for ban on foreign oil imports, using Alberta oil instead

Green party Leader Elizabeth May says saving the world from climate change requires Canada to get off oil before the middle of the century.

In the meantime, she wants Canada off foreign oil as soon as possible.

The promise to make Canada energy independent is _ perhaps unexpectedly _ in line with the economic and climate strategy of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Scheer’s plan calls for Canada to import no foreign oil by 2030, partly by planning an energy corridor across Canada that could simplify the construction of pipelines able to move Alberta oil to any coast. He sees it as a way to find additional domestic markets for Canada’s oilsands, in a bid to increase their production.

May’s plan, to “turn off the taps to oil imports” is only a stop-gap measure to keep foreign oil out until Canada can break its oil habit altogether.

By 2050, May wants bitumen to be used in Canada only by the petrochemical industry for plastics, rubber, paint, and other such products.

“As long as we are using fossil fuels we should be using our fossil fuels,” said May.

May’s climate plan is likely to get more scrutiny than its predecessors in past elections.

The Liberals and NDP already proved they are paying close attention to the rising threat of Green support, with both pushing similar motions to declare climate change an emergency in the House of Commons earlier this month. Both motions were tabled less than a week after the Greens elected a second MP in a Vancouver Island byelection, and not long after a provincial wing of the party formed the official opposition in Prince Edward Island.

May said she’s perfectly fine with Green popularity pushing other parties to raise their games on climate. While both the Liberals and NDP claimed their motions had been in the works before the byelection result, May said there is no doubt in her mind that Paul Manly’s winning and the NDP and Liberals finishing distantly third and fourth, “had almost everything to do with” the motions.

The NDP motion failed because it called for Canada to drop plans to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, a pipeline May also opposes. The Liberal motion hasn’t yet gone to a vote.

The Green climate plan also calls for Canada to double its cuts to greenhouse- gas emissions by 2030 and get emissions to zero by 2050. That plan includes no longer selling combustion-engine cars after 2030 and replacing all existing combustion-engine vehicles by 2040.

Canada imports about a million barrels of oil a day and produces four times that much. In 2017, Canada produced 4.2 million barrels of oil, and exported 3.3 million of those. Domestic refineries handled 1.8 million barrels.

Canada’s oil producers already pump enough product to meet domestic demand but there are two problems: there is no pipeline from the oil-rich west to refineries in the east, and even if there were, those refineries aren’t equipped to handle the heavier bitumen that is the Alberta oilsands’ trademark.

For Canadian refineries in the east, bitumen from the oilsands must be upgraded to synthetic crude. May’s plan is to invest in upgraders to do it.

She acknowledges weaning Canada off foreign oil won’t happen overnight, given existing contracts Canadian refineries have and figuring out how to build the upgraders and then ship the product.

Privately, Liberal government critics suggest there is no way to have Canada’s east coast use Canadian oil without building a new pipeline to get the products there. May does not support a new pipeline anywhere, and argues the raw bitumen could be transferred by rail as long as Canada invests more in its rail services.

The proposed Energy East pipeline to carry diluted bitumen to the east coast fell apart in 2017 amid significant opposition in Quebec, opposition that continues under the new Coalition Avenir Quebec government.

Scheer’s plan is to establish an energy corridor that would allow an Energy East-like pipeline to proceed alongside interprovincial electricity grids, with only one right-of-way required.

May said the Greens are the “only party that have a plan that allows human civilization to survive.”

“It’s not a Canadian lifestyle choice,” she said. “All of humanity is at risk.”

 


Canada banning oil, gas and mining from marine protected areas

The oil and gas industry has worn out its welcome in Canadian marine conservation areas. Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced a total ban on oil and gas work, as well as mining, waste-dumping and bottom-trawling, in all of Canada’s marine protected areas. Wilkinson was at an international nature summit in Montreal where Canada is pushing other countries to do more to protect the global environment.

The changes apply recommendations made last fall by a panel the government asked to provide advice on the best way to improve standards in marine protected areas. The ban on industrial activities brings Canada up to international standards recommended by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The bans apply only to marine protected areas, which are specific areas within bodies of water that are granted protected status by federal, provincial or territorial governments. Until now, activities like oil and gas exploration and exploitation were only banned in these areas on a case-by-case basis.

Marine refuges, which are more numerous areas where governments impose fisheries closures often to protect just a single species, will still allow oil and gas operations.

The ones that do will not be counted towards Canada’s commitment to protect 10 per cent of the country’s marine and coastal areas by 2020.

Canada had hit nearly eight per cent by the end of 2018, but more than half of that amount is marine refuges. It’s not clear yet what effect discounting refuges that are still open to oil and gas work will have on the total.

The World Wildlife Federation of Canada said last fall it was concerned about the exemption for marine refuges.

Oceana Canada, a charity devoted to protecting ocean life, also raised concerns that four months after Canada named the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Conservation Area — a 47,000-square-kilometre section of the Atlantic Ocean — as a marine refuge in 2017, it agreed to allow oil and gas exploration in the same area. That decision also angered local fishers since the designation barred all fishing in the name of environmental protection.