Archive for World
An excellent read from Robert Tracinski at Real Clear Politics.
A theory with this many holes in it would be have been thrown out long ago, if not for the fact that it conveniently serves the political function of indicting fossil fuels as a planet-destroying evil and allowing radical environmentalists to put a modern, scientific face on their primitivist crusade to shut down industrial civilization.
But can’t we all just stop calling this “science” now?
In the Good Friday edition of the Globe and Mail, the Report on Business section had an article on Total SA and it’s sale and writedown of its portion of the now suspended Voyageur Upgrader project.
Attached to the story was an interesting graphic on the five operating upgraders in Alberta.
Technical full load output is 1.1 million barrels per day. (bpd)
Total actual output is estimated at 900,000 barrels per day.
Total Oilsands production was 1.8 million bpd in 2012 and is expected to be over 2 million bpd in 2013.
On the other side – Alberta currently has only three refineries.
The Strathcona refinery
Daily capacity – 187,000 bpd
The Scotford refinery
Daily capacity – 100,000 bpd
The Suncor Edmonton refinery
Daily capacity – 135,000 bpd
Current total is 422,000 bpd.
A fourth refinery will be the North West Redwater project, phase one will be 50,000 bpd. All three phases are 50,000 bpd each.
Alberta needs both, more upgraders and more refineries. I would support government “creativity” in helping make this happen.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Lets catch up a bit.
For me, one of the biggest bits of news was the announcement by Williams Energy Canada that it will build a $900 million propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility.
We need more value added products from the Oil Sands to be produced here in Alberta.
Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams Cos. is one of the largest pipeline and energy infrastructure firms in North America. With a market value of $24 billion US, about 4,200 employees and thousands of kilometres of pipelines in its vast network, Williams has a huge corporate footprint.
It’s also a big player in Alberta’s petrochemical industry, where subsidiary Williams Energy Canada has invested $1.7 billion over the past decade. In the process, it has become the world’s only processor of oilsands offgas, from which it extracts valuable products like propane, butane and condensate.
But it turns out Williams is just getting started. On Monday, it announced its biggest investment yet in Alberta — a $900-million plant in Strathcona County, near its existing complex in Redwater — where it plans to build a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility.
But that’s just Williams’ base plan. There’s another angle to this that could prove to be even more rewarding, not only for Williams but for Alberta’s resurgent petrochemical industry.
Williams confirms that its plan to ramp up propylene output has drawn the attention of several unnamed global plastics manufacturers, who are considering using the propylene feedstock from the company’s facility to build new polypropylene plants in Alberta.
If this comes to pass, it would add enormous value to the raw bitumen Alberta produces, and create a long-term platform for diversifying and broadening the provincial economy, making it less reliant on volatile energy prices.
“This represents a new value chain for Alberta. This is us taking propane to make propylene, and then hopefully somebody else will take the next step to make polypropylene,” says Chappell.
At last, Alberta could achieve its long-held dream of shipping value-added products around the globe, generating new jobs, wealth and taxes for the province.
“This is exceedingly important for the Industrial Heartland and actually for all of Alberta,” says Energy Minister Ken Hughes.
“It has the potential to create a whole new petrochemical industry. Really, Alberta needs a portfolio of ways to market our products. Some can go as raw bitumen, and some can go as upgraded and refined products. The petrochemical and natural gas liquids streams are immensely valuable resources, and if we can capture that value here in Alberta, that is very important.”
Chappell won’t name the players Williams is currently in talks with, but he says none currently have polypropylene production capacity in North America.
“I want to make one thing really clear. Our project is not dependent on somebody else building a polypropylene plant here. We are going ahead and our base case is to rail it all to the U.S. Gulf Coast. That’s still big value-added for the province. But we are hoping and we do think it will happen that somebody will build a world-scale polypropylene plant here.
February is slipping away. Two items in the Financial Post a week ago caught my attention.
Canadian REIT’s with foreign assets.
If the trend continues investors will have to pay more than $11 per unit for the next chance to buy a newly issued unit from Dundee International REIT, the first Canadian REIT to have all its operations outside of Canada.
Before the markets closed on Monday the issuer which owns and operates about 13.3 million square feet of gross leasable area of office, industrial and mixed use properties across Germany, announced a bought deal. (The German Post Office is its biggest tenant.) It plans to raise about $220-million from an offering priced at $10.90 per unit. At the time of the offering the units were trading at $11.33, meaning that they were priced at a 4% discount. At the time of pricing the units were down $0.06 on the day.
This offering is its fourth since going public in mid-2011. The good news: all the financings (except one) have been at higher prices while the over-allotment options on all the financings have been exercised. The other bit of good news: the deals have led to an increase the float of the company that has a market cap of about $800-million. In its IPO, it sold units and convertible debentures. All up it raised $471.50-million – of which $310.50-million was in equity.
Dundee International REIT closed Monday, February 11th at $11.07 with a nice yield of 7.23%.
The second article discussed the trend of REIT’s with non-Canadian assets.
The message of a number of recent deals seems to be: bring me a yield based on real estate assets and, by the way, we are seemingly indifferent to where the real estate is based or the type of underlying assets.
There are at least four real estate deals currently working their way through the registration process or the marketing period of which three are non-Canadian-based. Indeed, the foreign aspect of the deals is something of a trend, as last month Agellan Commercial REIT completed a repriced $135-million initial public offering based on commercial real estate in the U.S. and Canada.
I like Germany and I like Australia, it seems I can invest in both.
Australian REIT Income Fund. In what is the first of its kind for Canadian retail investors, the issuer is seeking about $100-million to be invested in REITs and other real estate issuers listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The idea is generate a yield (about 5.5% a year based on a $12 a unit purchase price) and capital gain. The Australian REIT sector is large (about A$89-billion), which makes it the fourth-largest in the world, but is very concentrated. Australian-based Macquarie Private Portfolio Management is the portfolio manager, Toronto’s Harvest Portfolio’s Group is the manager.
But the issuer is technically not a REIT but rather a closed-end fund that will invest in real estate companies.
People like to think Canada can have a positive influence in the world.
Sometimes, that means Canadians have to fight.
On Wednesday, French President François Hollande personally asked Mr. Harper to extend Canada’s contribution of one C-17 transport plane beyond the week Ottawa offered, as well as to extend more air-transport assistance. While Mr. Harper has sought to set strict limits on Canadian involvement, he is under pressure to do more for an ally in combat.
Some of Mali’s neighbours, fearing the threat of Islamist extremists to their own countries and facing a flow of refugees across the border, also want Canada to send more military help. “The crisis in Mali is a disaster for us,” said Niger’s ambassador to Canada, Fadjimata Sidibé. “I think Canada can do more concerning this crisis in Mali.”
I would like to see 800 – 1,000 Canadian combat troops make some sort of deployment to help out Mail and help the French troops already there or en route.
In the aftermath of the horrible Newtown shootings, the folks who like to pretend they care are renewing their attacks on citizens owning guns.
These attacks on gun ownership are built on wild emotion, abuse, wrong information and bad research.
I came across this video at SDA where Lee Doren takes on one revved up attacker.
A very rational James Allan Fox had this column is USA Today.
Even though the nature and number of incidents today are not very different from years ago, one thing definitely has changed — the extent and style of news coverage. In an earlier era, the major networks did not have the capability to be on the scene reporting live and with video within minutes of a shooting spree. And cable news channels weren’t around to provide marathon coverage of these events.
Back in 1966, when Charles Whitman opened fire from a tower on the University of Texas campus, and killed 16 people and wounded 31 others, there wasn’t a line of satellite trucks parked at the shooting site. And in 1989 — when Patrick Purdy turned the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, Calif., into his personal war zone with an AK-47 which he used to kill five children and wound 29 other students and one teacher — news outlets did not as yet have the means to transmit satellite images of frightened children running for their lives for instantaneous display on our television screens.
It wasn’t commonplace years ago to have a swarm of reporters on the scene with microphones and cameras just in time to interview surviving children with fresh tears in their eyes. We also didn’t hear an array of eye witnesses and emergency responders talk about a “parent’s worst nightmare” or describe the scene as the worst they’ve encounter in their careers. And we certainly did not have folks tweeting updates from location.
JD Tuccille has this column at Reason.com that ends as follows-
So, what can be done? Hawley and his frequent critic, Bruce Schneier, agree that just two responses to hijacking attempts have been effective: hardening airplane cockpits and psychologically preparing passengers and air crew to actively resist attackers. Forget the theater at the airports, which is the equivalent of the gun/video game/legal-whatever bloviating in Congress; it’s those two changes that have mattered.
If hardening targets and preparing people at the scene to intervene if necessary works against terrorist attacks on airplanes, it just may work at schools and elsewhere.
What does that mean in real terms? Well, that’s where the real discussion should begin. Debates over new legal restrictions on people who didn’t commit the crime are a pointless distraction.
And Bryan Preston has this short but excellent item.
The NRA came out with a proposal to post armed police officers at schools to prevent or at least minimize the next school shooting. The left promptly called the idea nuts.
Turns out, it wasn’t a new idea. President Bill Clinton proposed the same idea in April 2000. He implemented it, too, only to see Barack Obama cut the funding for it.
So, if you’re keeping score, the NRA agrees with a 12-year old Bill Clinton position on school security. The left just called a former Democrat president “crazy.”
Let’s get even more confusing. Clinton proposed more security for schools in the wake of the 1999 Columbine shooting. It turns out that Columbine High School did have an armed sheriff’s deputy on the scene the day of its tragic shooting spree. That deputy exchanged fire with one of the killers twice, drawing their attention away from killing unarmed teenagers. The deputy and his backup also helped organize the evacuation of students from the school. Though the deputy’s presence obviously did not stop the attack from happening, it likely did save many lives.
Let’s pile on even more confusion. The NRA today proposed protecting our children to a level similar to the way we protect our banks and many public buildings: With armed security. As we’ve established, this idea has been around for more than 12 years and was once proposed by a Democratic president. Many on the anti-gun left responded to today’s proposal not with a thoughtful rejoinder, but with calls to shoot Wayne LaPierre.
I’m not done yet. There is one more bit of confusing data to work with. The Columbine shooting occurred on April 20, 1999. The Assault Weapons Ban that the Democrats wish to revive in response to the Newtown killings ran from 1993 to 2004.
We will never change our attitude about the responsible use of weapons by law-abiding citizens,” says Hermann Suter, vice president of Pro-Tell, the country’s gun lobby, named after legendary apple shooter William Tell, who used a crossbow to target enemies long before firearms were invented.
Switzerland trails behind only the U.S, Yemen and Serbia in the number of guns per capita; between 2.3 million and 4.5 million military and private firearms are estimated to be in circulation in a country of only 8 million people. Yet, despite the prevalence of guns, the violent-crime rate is low: government figures show about 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. By comparison, the U.S rate in the same year was about 5 firearm killings per 100,000 people, according to a 2011 U.N. report.
One of the reasons the crime rate in Switzerland is low despite the prevalence of weapons — and also why the Swiss mentality can’t be transposed to the current American reality — is the culture of responsibility and safety that is anchored in society and passed from generation to generation. Kids as young as 12 belong to gun groups in their local communities, where they learn sharpshooting. The Swiss Shooting Sports Association runs about 3,000 clubs and has 150,000 members, including a youth section. Many members keep their guns and ammunition at home, while others choose to leave them at the club. And yet, despite such easy access to pistols and rifles, “no members have ever used their guns for criminal purposes,” says Max Flueckiger, the association’s spokesperson.
“Social conditions are fundamental in deterring crime,” says Peter Squires, professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton in Great Britain, who has studied gun violence in different countries and concluded that a “culture of support” rather than focus on individualism, can deter mass killings.
“If people have a responsible, disciplined and organized introduction into an activity like shooting, there will be less risk of gun violence,” he tells TIME.
That sense of social and civic responsibility is one of the reasons the Swiss have never allowed their guns to come under fire.
Guns are not the problem.
Social conditions, social and civic responsibility are key.
One of the things I love about Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is how so many of the songs just grab me so firmly.
Here’s a shorter version of one of those songs.
And an interview with Nadia Ali.
Another interesting read from Liberal Senator Colin Kenny in Monday’s National Post.
Canada is down to two antique destroyers, 12 middle-aged frigates and one active submarine, with two more promised sometime soon. That’s what is available to defend a nation of slightly less than 10 million square kilometres, largely surrounded by water.
Official navy documents have predicted that even this small fleet will be significantly diminished over the next eight to 10 years — many of the frigates will be unavailable due to refit, and the destroyers will have to be docked as maintenance costs spiral out of control.
Itemizing Canada’s military weaknesses across the board would fill the pages of this newspaper, so allow me to focus on this one issue with regard to the navy: Why spend scarce dollars on ships that won’t even cut through heavy ice when you have a dearth of real icebreakers? Why spend that money on ships that will be slower than fishing boats when what we need are fast ships that can intercept vessels in our southern waters? The government will argue that the Arctic patrol ships can be transferred to our East and West coasts in the winter.
But if they are not designed as minesweepers or even as combat vessels, what would be the point? Why not spend the money on real warships, and give the coast guard real icebreakers?
I am inclined to agree with many of Senator Kenny’s view. I would like to see at least four new powerful and armed icebreakers for the Coast Guard based in Canada’s arctic.
And as for the Navy, my minimum would be – 9 destroyers (some Aegis equipped), 24 frigates, 12 nuclear powered submarines (Astute Class), 4 diesel electric submarines (Likely Type 212/214), 5 modern supply ships, and three or four ships in the style of HMAS Canberra.
and yes, dear reader, wealthy Canada can afford this. We’ve spent too many years riding the coattails of other countries.
And as a bonus, we would have an advanced and thriving shipbuilding industry.
Senator Kenny wrote about new icebreakers, armed and manned by the Coast Guard in April 2011.
If Canada is serious about Arctic sovereignty, we need genuine icebreakers. Our existing fleet is aging and none of the vessels match up to the six icebreakers the Russians employ to enforce sovereignty. The current government plan is to purchase just one new icebreaker. If we’re serious about patrolling, we need three.
The government should forget about the patrol vessels, purchase three robust icebreakers, and man them with the people who have experience plying our coastal waters — the Canadian Coast Guard.
It is time that we armed Canada’s coast guard. Using a vital chunk of the navy’s budget for patrolling the Arctic in ineffective ships is not money well spent — particularly when the navy desperately needs money to replace its outdated destroyers with modern vessels capable of defending themselves (and other Canadian ships) from air attack.
And as Senator Kenny wrote in August of 2008.
The Canadian Navy should be expanded. The Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has recommended that the number of ships it floats should be doubled to keep pace with the responsibilities the Navy will face in a changing world.
But even if it were to tread water at its current size, the Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard are going to require at least 133 new vessels of a significant size over the next 25 years, as well as refits.
Just to stand still the Navy needs to modernize 12 frigates soon and eventually replace them. It needs four new destroyers, eight arctic/offshore patrol vessels and refits for four submarines.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will require at least 83 ships. These include 9 icebreakers, 15 medium endurance and offshore patrol vessels and 42 Search and Rescue lifeboats.
Another of the regular features in Saturday’s Globe and Mail Report on Business section is “Giving Back” – this week’s item is on clean water.
The Donor David O’Brien
The Gift: $3-million and climbing
The Cause: Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology
The Reason: To finance water projects in developing countries
A few years ago, David O’Brien’s wife, Gail, told him about a fascinating woman she had met who was running a charity devoted to improving water quality and sanitation in developing countries.
The woman, Camille Dow Baker, had left a 20-year career in the energy sector to study environmental design at the University of Calgary. There, she helped develop a simple water filter and helped launch the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology to help get the filter and other technologies into the hands of poor people around the world. Since then, the centre has offered water-training programs around the world, helping nearly six million people in 63 countries.
Mr. O’Brien eventually met Ms. Dow Baker and he was so impressed by the charity’s work he began donating $200,000 annually for 10 years.
“There’s no question in my mind it’s both the most efficient and effective organization I know in terms of bang for the buck,” Mr. O’Brien said from Calgary, where he serves as chairman of Encana Corp.
Here’s the link for CAWST – Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology
CAWST’s CEO and co-founder, Camille Dow Baker, put aside her 20-year history as an executive in the oil and gas industry to study environmental design at the University of Calgary in 1998. There, she met Dr. David Manz, the inventor of a simple device for household water treatment called the Biosand Filter.
Camille and David co-founded CAWST to answer the question, “How can we get proven technologies in the hands of the millions that need safe water?” Since 2001, CAWST has taken a unique approach to the problem of water and sanitation for the poor. Instead of starting with technology solutions, CAWST starts with education and training to build local capacity.
Aha, the biosand filter. I’ve heard of that.
I think about the tens of billions of dollars that’s been wasted promoting the scam of CAGW, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming. A scam now being rebranded as the catch-all “climate change”.
Even a fraction of this money would have helped tens of millions of people years ago gain access to safer water.
The CAGW scam continues to pump out the lies. Here’s the latest involving Al Gore and his paid zealots trying to obtain video to twist to their dishonest agenda.
I had the opportunity to watch the webcast of the live launch Sunday evening of a SpaceX Flacon 9 rocket with a Dragon capsule riding on top.
Destination – the International Space Station.
The SpaceX site.
Here’s two videos of the launch.
updated Oct. 20th – second video removed from YouTube, I have deleted the link.