Thursday, 27 April 2017

Carbon Taxes: The Latest Fad Diet

Published: Oilfield Pulse
By: Kevin Turko CEO Oilfield Hub Inc


      A Fad Diet is a stylish diet that promises quick weight loss through what is usually an unhealthy and unbalanced diet. Fad diets are targeted at people who want to lose weight quickly without exercise. Some fad diets claim they make you lose fat, but it's really water weight you're losing.

      A Carbon Tax Diet is a dangerous diet of government spin that promises climate leadership through what is usually an unwarranted and unsustainable cash grab. Carbon tax diets are conceived by governments who want to redistribute wealth quickly without accountability. Some carbon tax diets claim that they make you lower your carbon emissions, but it's really personal wealth you're losing.
      Bottom-line, fad diets and carbon taxes just don't work! They might make us feel more planet friendly for short-term political gains, but taxpayers return to their normal consumption habits after they've lost a few dollars out of their pockets or have become bored with the whole eco-activist climate change agenda. Carbon taxes usually require you to avoid several fossil fuels, and often that includes fossil fuels that are necessities to sustain both your annual income and preferred lifestyle.
      If you've ever expressed the least bit of skepticism about environmentalist calls for making the vast majority of fossil fuel use illegal, you've probably heard the instantaneous smug response: "97% of climate scientists agree with climate change" - which always carries the implication: Who are you to challenge them? You're automatically labelled a climate change denier! Just like fad diets, 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will gain it all back in one to five years. Since carbon taxes, by definition, are supposed to be temporary plans, they won't work in the long run. Moreover, just like dieting, the deprivation of restrictive diets usually leads to overeating and binging cycles. So too will carbon taxes! We are taxing our people into energy poverty just to dole out billions of dollars to green energy schemes and like-minded environmental and politically aligned groups and businesses.
      The weight loss industry is estimated to be worth $60 billion dollars a year. It seems our provincial and federal governments have taken more than a few pages from their playbook. The Climate Change Industry is now estimated to be at $1.5 trillion dollars a year or $4 billion dollars as day. Who said it's about reducing GHG emissions? It's all about the money! Kudos to Premier Brad Wall and the people of Saskatchewan. Resist the political pressure and climate change lobbyists and debunk the rest of the country's carbon tax fad diets.
      Have you ever heard someone mention, "They say butter isn't good for you"? Now "They say eat butter because margarine isn't good for you". Who knows for sure? By the way, just who are 'They' anyhow? What is supposedly good for us today, gets debunked by more scientific research tomorrow. 'They' say we must put a price on carbon, so Alberta's Climate Leadership means we're leading today so we don't follow tomorrow. So, when will this get debunked? Not by a new provincial government, but by more scientific research, innovative carbon capture technologies, and the effective extraction and environmentally-friendly use of fossil fuels around the world.
      The diet industry is chock full of past scientific research which has led to all sorts of fad diets. Perhaps you have heard of The Grapefruit Diet, The Raw Food Diet, The Volumetrics Diet, The Macrobiotic Diet, The Alkaline Diet, The Blood Type Diet, The Werewolf Diet, Cookie Diets, The Five-Bite Diet, the Master Cleanse/Lemonade Diet, The Baby Food Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Sleeping Beauty Diet, The HGC Diet, The Tapeworm Diet, The Cotton Ball Diet, etc.
      How about more well known programs like The South Beach Diet, The Mediterranean Diet, The Zone Diet, The Atkins Diet, The Paleo Diet, and not to be outdone, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem and Jenny Craig.
     The diet industry is all about the money too! They have hit the weight loss problem from every money-making angle imaginable. Yet our political leaders and environmentalist would have us all believe that carbon taxes is the one and only long term climate change myth to stop global warming from killing our planet. What happened to more scientific research and new innovative technologies?


Myth 1: the healthiest diet is a low fat, high carb diet, with lots of grains
Myth 2: salt should be restricted, to lower blood pressure and reduce heart attacks and strokes
Myth 3: it is best to eat many, small meals throughout the day to "stoke the metabolic flame"
Myth 4: eating red meats raises the risk of diseases like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer
Myth 5: eating fat makes you fat... so if you want to lose weight, you need to stop eating fat
Myth 6: low fat foods are healthy because they are lower in calories and saturated fat
Myth 7: losing weight is all about willpower, eating less, and exercising more

     Perhaps if common sense, as well as good and real science prevails, in a few years' time we will look back at the following small sampling of climate change initiatives and throw some, or all, of them into the myth column as well!

Myth 1: The Alberta Climate Leadership Plan
Myth 2: The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
Myth 3: The COP 21 Paris Climate Change Agreement
Myth 4: The Leap Manifesto
Myth 5: City of Vancouver Climate Change Adoption Strategy
Myth 6: Al Gore's - An Inconvenient Truth
Myth 7: United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (COP24 and beyond!)

    The best weight loss advice I ever received
.........It's not about what you eat, it's all about how much eat and drink!
As for carbon taxes
.........It's not about what gases you emit, it's all about how much more money you will pay!

    I say we all quit the Carbon Tax Diet. It's just another passing fad!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Alberta's Solution? Impose Carbon Taxes

Published: Energy Processing Canada -
Under Health, Safety, Environment, Security

On January 1, 2017 the Government of Alberta voted with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and implemented carbon taxes on CO2, as a greenhouse gas, then issued an early flurry of refund cheques. The politicians and bureaucrats believe - and seemingly sit back with a warm and fuzzy feeling - that by 'taxing the polluter.' i.e. every Albertan -- it has done something good for the planet.

Powered by noisy political pressure, the provincial government increased energy costs on fossil fuels and created a subsidized energy system for renewables, that has added a new source of tax revenue. The end result will probably be an increase in unemployment as energy-capital investment locates elsewhere, a continuing lack of competitiveness, energy poverty, and increased costs.

There is little doubt the ensemble of climate models presented by the IPCC and used by the Alberta government fail, when normatively tested as a hypothesis against global surface temperature trends (which haven't dramatically risen in the past 15-17 year). Unless  nature has another surprise for us, three short decades of irresponsible climate policy from the IPCC will take at least a generation to reverse because there are now armies of bureaucrats, politicians, scientists, and business living off the climate change scare.

Sadly, the education system has been captured by the activists, and the young people are inculcated with environmental, political, and economic ideology. During their education, these same young people are not given the basic critical and analytical methods to evaluate ideology that has been presented as facts.

Onerous and ineffective policies relating to greenhouse gas emissions - such as cap-and-trade, taxes on fossil fuel extraction, or carbon taxes - have brought down governments. There are times in history when the popular consensus is demonstrably wrong. It's hard to predict how it will impact Edmonton, but a late-February, 2017 survey of 1,357 Albertans found 64 per cent somewhat or strongly disapprove of the tax.

Alberta's Plan to Fight CO2

Alberta plans to end coal pollution by phasing out 12 or 18 coal-fired generating units (slated to retire by 2031) and opted to pay to retrofit six for natural gas (until retirement in 2061). The plan is to replace the coal-generated power with natural gas, wind, solar, and biomass.

The goal is 30% of this province's electricity will come from renewables by 2030. This translates into 5,000 megawatts of renewable capacity at an estimated cost of $10.5 billion in new investment and the creation of 7,200 jobs in this sector.

The province is also capping oil sands emissions at 100 megatonnes/year. It also doubled the previous $15/tonne imposed on large emitters to $30/tonne, effective Jan. 1st.

Alberta is intent on reducing another GHG, methane, and has set a target of 45% by 2025. Interestingly, it has only imposed this on oil and gas operations and didn't consider forcing it on Alberta's largest emitters - the cattle industry.

According to the province, the imposition of its $20/tonne levy on everyone this year is expected to raise $9.5 billion for its coffers and all monies will be "reinvested to diversity the economy and create new jobs." The Department of Finance has budgeted $3.4 billion for major renewable energy projects, $2.3 billion for rebates to Alberta families, $2.2 billion to build green infrastructure (such as public transit), $865 million to cut the small business tax rate, $645 million for Energy Efficiency Alberta (a new agency dedicated to increase energy efficiency), and $195 million to help Indigenous People and communities dependent on coal to adjust.

Alberta clearly sides with the activists who believe humans must be activists to prevent catastrophe. Many in the energy sector, trained as geologists and geophysicists, consider that humans have little impact on what the climate does. The real question is, who do you support?

Climate Change Just the Facts, Ma'am

By: Heather Douglas
Published: Energy Processing Canada

Every scientist around the world believes that climate change is a reality. What they disagree about is the reason.

On one side are the supporters of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who believe it is caused by humans and carbon dioxide (CO2). On the other side sit the scientists - many of whom are Nobel Laureates -- who belong to the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), convened in 2014-2016. They believe in geological-time, fossil fuels, and feel that humans have little impact on climate change.

The NIPCC say the "theory of human-induced global warming is not a science because the research is based on pre-ordained conclusions, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures are treated as evidence. Furthermore, "the panel adds, " the climate 'science' is sustained by government research grants. Funds are not available to investigate theories that are not in accord with government ideology."

IPCC Supporters

" Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several tipping points that could - within as little as 10 years - make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet's habitability for human civilization," U.S. VP AL Gore (1948 --), speech at New York University Law School, 2006.

"I was interested in variations in temperatures of the oceans voer the past millennium. But there are no records of these changes so I had to find proxy measure: coral growth ice cores, and tree rings, " Dr. Michael Mann (1965 --), professor, Pennsylvania State University (father of the temperature hockey stick).

"I think that once people understand the great risks that climate change poses, they will naturally want to choose products and services that cause little or no emissions of greenhouse gases, which means 'low-carbon consumption.' This will apply across the board, including electricity, heating, transport, and food. "Sir, Nicholas Stern (1946 --), Baron Stern of Brentford, U.K.

"We must now agree on a binding review mechanism under international law, so that this century can credibly be called a century of decarbonisation, "Hon. Angela Merkel (1954 --), Chancellor of Germany.

In essence the IPCC preaches five tenets, based on its most recent report released in 2014:

1. There is an increase in CO2 emissions caused by human activities.
2. The increased CO2, a greenhouse gas, will lead to ever-increasing global warming.
3. There will be five tipping points -- sea level rises, land levels change, coral atolls die, flora and fauna extinctions, and ocean acidification.
4. Climate change will be irreversible and human emission of CO2 must be reduced or stopped immediately.
5. To stop climate change, energy sources need to be shifted from coal, gas and oil (fossil fuels) to wind, solar, tidal, and biomass (renewables).

NIPCC Adherents

"Over the last 10,000 years, it has been warmer than today 65% of the time, "Professor Gernot Patzeit, Institute of Geographie, Innsbruck Austria in a speech to the International Climate & Energy conference in Munich (2011) where upon he was booed.

"We deny that carbon dioxide - essential to all plant growth - is a pollutant. Reducing greenhouse gases cannot achieve significant reductions in future global temperatures, and the costs of the policies would far exceed the benefits,"Dr. Ross McKitrick, University of Guelph (rebutting the infamous hockey stick).

"Six-million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea dried up. Ninety-million years ago alligators and turtles cavorted in the Arctic One-hundred-fifty-million years ago the oceans flooded the middle of North America and preserved dinosaur b ones Three-hundred -m illion years ago, northern Europe burned to a desert and coal formed in the Antarctica," Professor Robert Laughlin (1950 - -). Nobel Laureate (1988). Stanford University.

"Climate change ... is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone's permission or explaining itself. The earth doesn't include the potentially catastrophic effects on civilization in  its planning ... Were the earth determined to freeze Canada again, for example. it's difficult to imagine doing anything about it,'' Professo r Laughlin.

The NIPCC refutes the IPCC's dogma with these counter­ arguments, based on its 2016 report.

Since 1750, there has been a rise in CO2 emissions,one fueled by coal, aiding the invention of steel and electricity. and enabled people to achieve a com fort able middle-class living This slight increase has led to a small greening of the planet.

Ice core measurements show temperature increases occur hundreds of thousands of years before CO2 actually increases. Therefore, CO2 cannot drive temperature changes. Geology shows that all six of the great ice ages were initiated when atmospheric CO2 was far higher than present (up to one-thousand times higher in the first two ice ages.) Geology also proves there has been a sequestration of atmosphere CO2 into limey sediments and rock for billions of years.

The earth currently has very low CO2 content compared with the past. Ice has been here less than 20% of earth's history and most of the time it's been warmer and wetter. The optimal CO2 content for plant growth is 1,600 parts per million (ppm).

There will be five tipping points. Sea level rises are caused by water covering land or land shrinking. In each of the six major ice ages, there were hundreds of glaciations and warm interglacial. Sea levels have risen more than 130 metres since 12,000 A.D.

Land level changes are cuased when volcanic eruptions create islands (Hawaii) and displace ocean water. Scandinavia, Scotland, and Canada are rising because the last ice age pushed land down, then the ice melted, causing the land to rebound.

Coral atolls grow whenever sea levels rise (validated in the South Pacific, Bahamas, Australia) and reefs die when land level rises and the corals lie above sea level (Vanuatu).

Extinctions are normal. Bacteria has been on earth for million or billions/years while humans have a short life here. The history of the planet shows huge increases in biodiversity during global warming and extinctions are universal during global cooling. The Australian Great Barrier Reef has disappeared more than 60 times during the last three-million/years whenever the climate has cooled, and revives whenever it warms.

Ocean Acidification occurs whenever chemical reactions between gasses and minerals cause the water and rock to swap chemicals.

World Needs Honest Debate

Governments around the world are passing legislation to stop/deter human emissions of CO2, and research grants are being given to those who support the IPCC. The world needs a public debate about human-induced climate change, before economies are destroyed and the poor die from energy-poverty.

What actually happened? The U.K. (2011-2016) saw home heating costs increase by 63 per cent while real wages decreased. Green levies have put 2.4 million households into energy poverty and six elderly/sick/vulnerable people die/year for each wind turbine (six deaths/megawatt of wind power generated). Germany (2010-2016) saw power cut off from more than 300,000 households/year as 800,00 live in energy poverty. Consumers subsidize solar, wind, and biofuel by more than 24.0 billion Euros annually for plants that generate electricity at a market price of 3.0 billion Euros/year.

The scientists believe the alternative energy systems are environmentally disastrous and cause loss of ecosystems, destruction of wildlife, sterilization of land, are inordinately costly, and both emit huge amounts of CO2 during construction. Renewables do not yet provide 24/7 base-load power and need fossil fuel back-up.

Again, what's the real world experience? Denmark has been a very enthusiastic supporter of wind power. In 2004, it decided not to build any more wind farms as it was producing Europe's most expensive electricity. When the wind is calm, the country relies on hydro-and nuclear0 generated electricity from Norway and France. Green taxes are more than half of every electricity bill.

Germany shut down its eight nuclear power stations because of green pressure and now has the world's largest solar and wind generating industry. The unreliability of these power sources has seen the country increase its emissions by building new thermal coal-fired stations. Electricity costs are almost double those in the U.S./megawatt hour. Ironically, the recent coal boom is a result of Greenpeace's political success.

According to the NIPCC, climate-change catastrophism is the biggest scientific fraud that has occurred in living memory. "Much climate 'science' is political ideology dressed up as science. Cheap energy is fundamental for employment, living in the modern world, and for bringing the Developing World out of poverty."

Don't forget, these esteemed scientists all believe in climate change - just over millennia, not overnight.

Monday, 3 April 2017

MONEY That's What It's All About

By: Scott Jeffrey
Published: Energy Processing Canada

It comes as no surprise that we're the industry everyone loves to hate. Even the nukes don't come in for as much criticism, despite little mishaps like Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island.

On of the reasons for this is that oil and gas is a daily fact of life. Most of us heat with natural gas and get a bill for it. We stop for gas and oil and get charged for it. We bemoan the price increases, and conveniently forget the decreases.

Another reason is that we've not always been good stewards of the resource. In our pursuit of the hydrocarbon molecule, we have often let money take the fore, and the environment, and sometimes the people have paid the price.

However, you don't have to do much scratching to realize that it's all about money. The producers extract the resource, and everyone wants a piece of it. They do the math, multiplying the number of cars in North America by the number of fills, and they come up with megabucks.

That brings us back to the money. Let's start with government, another group we love to hate. it's a fact that the resource is owned by the people, but government begs to differ. They begrudgingly allow the oil and gas explorer to buy rights to find and develop the resource, and then they tax the resource. If they could, they would cut out the middleman, but time and again it has been proven that government actually needs the industry. Otherwise, the resource would either stay in the ground or be produced for more than it is worth. So they play it safe, taxing the producer in many different ways. So much do they tax the industry that they have often been surprised by the flight of capital and expertise to less repressive jurisdictions. Governments hate their dependence on the industry, pander to the anti-oil faction, but gleefully take the money "on our behalf."

Here at home, B.C. laid out five conditions for the TransMountain pipeline to proceed. The only real condition was money, and when Kinder Morgan agreed to the cash demands of Premier Clark and company, opposition vanished and the pipeline was approved.

In Quebec, Denis Coderre, mayor of Montreal, was more upfront. He declared that there was no, or not enough economic benefit in allowing the Energy East Pipeline to transit the sacred lands and waters of Montreal. As soon as the industry figures out a way to make the stickup look like a gift, Energy East will be a go.

The environmental lobby is also all about money, but they are more devious. They need a cause, because then all those well-meaning green minions will lighten their wallets and fatten the coffers of their well-oiled machines. They have decried "tar sands," want no pipelines, and say that natural gas heat can easily be replaced. Fear replaces facts, and the more they monger, the more secure their executive compensation is. President Trump has taken the heat off oil and gas for the time being, but they have linked him inextricably with big oil, and their hysteria knows no bounds.

They don't want consultation and consensus. They want money.

Opposition to oil and gas projects by First Nations people is well entrenched in North America. Legitimately, they want native lands protected, and they want traditional rights respected. Written into every proposed agreement, whether it be a pipeline or a gas plant, are those protections. The sticking point invariably comes down to money. If a producer makes an offer, it's seen as a starting point, and the producer can afford more. Economics aside, and just like government, a band can kill a deal if they feel access to their land is worth more than what is affordable.

The process gets a little trickier when a project is not on First Nations land. We have home grown examples, but let's look at the Dakota Access project. The Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux have held up a part of the line because it will pass under a portion of Lake Oahe, even though it is not on the reservation. They claim safety concerns, despite the fact that there are eight existing pipelines already. They sate that the new pipeline will defile the water by its very existence, but they're a little late with that argument. Perhaps the amount of product increases the defilement.

In fact, the bands are looking for ta way to cash in. They can't charge a toll to use native land, but they can make enough noise to have a few dollars thrown their way. The irony here is that they are now  facing a cleanup bill of $1.0 million (paid for out of a $6 million dollar fund) from protesters occupying reservation land. They were also peeved when access to their casino was compromised by the protesters.

The oil and gas industry should be held to account by those who care about the world we live in. However, those who care include the men and women who work in and depend on the oil and gas industry. The industry is not full of monsters, despite the demonization of "big oil" by the environmental lobby. We all care about what kind of world our children live in.

We may be portrayed by the self-interested as the epitome of greed, but greed is without a doubt not the sole domain of the oil and gas industry.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Health of geophysical industry critical to market recovery

Nikki C. Martin
International Association of Geophysical Contractors

Energy is one of the most important markets in the world, and the geophysical industry is the foundation of ensuring safe, affordable, and accessible oil and gas exploration and development. While OPEC’s landmark agreement at the end of the year to cut oil output boosted crude prices and optimism for some semblance of market certainty, no one can predict what the oil services market holds for 2017. One can be certain, however, that global energy demand will continue to increase, and that demand cannot be met without the geophysical industry.

From discovery to delivery, a viable geophysical industry is essential to providing energy resources to the world. In the past year, the geophysical industry enabled the discoveries of significant energy resources that were previously overlooked and thought impossible, beneath thick salt and within shale formations, doubling the world’s proved oil and gas reserves since the 1980s.

For decades, the geophysical industry has pioneered technology providing the blueprint for locating and producing safe affordable energy and the more than 6,000 petroleum-based products indispensable to everyday life. Oil and gas powers the equipment needed to construct cities. It powers the equipment to harvest crops and produce food, and the hundreds of millions of vehicles moving citizens and goods around the world. It is the foundational material for innovative and life-saving technology, from mobile phones to medical imaging devices.

Although the industry is currently in challenging times, the demand for these products and energy is not going away, and fossil fuels will dominate the energy supply for decades, requiring the ability to explore and develop resources currently out of reach. Critical resource plays are moving farther offshore and into more complex onshore formations.

As the cornerstone of the energy industry, the International Association of Geophysical Contractors’ (IAGC) members are driving technological innovation, reducing risk, and enhancing recovery. Even in the midst of the downturn, they have not let technology become stagnant, demonstrating a relentless pursuit to innovate and improve, so the discoveries that are impossible today are possible tomorrow.

Our members strive to provide trusted experience, improved confidence, and reduced uncertainty in the interpretation of the subsurface for their clients. Likewise, IAGC works to reduce regulatory uncertainty by promoting and ensuring a safe, environmentally responsible, and competitive exploration industry. The industry’s viability hinges not only on navigating one of the longest crises in the oil services market, but also overcoming the many present and real regulatory challenges pushed by the anti-fossil fuel lobby around the world.

Unfortunately, attacks from environmental extremists do not diminish with the price of oil, but resources do. The geophysical industry is often the first expenditure at the earliest stage of exploration and the first presence of oil and gas in a geographic area. As a bellwether for the service industry, it has been the hardest hit by the current downturn and the target of increasing anti-development environmental activist agenda.

Environmental groups are disseminating misinformation about the geophysical industry because of its critical role in exploration and development, saying seismic exploration is the gateway to oil and gas drilling. They believe if they stop seismic exploration, they can halt development.

These extremists are increasingly advocating for application of the precautionary principle to exploration and development activities around the globe. This approach requires weighing the evidence showing any effect of a proposed activity more than the evidence showing no effect; where effects are disputed, they argue activity should be resisted without boundary or reason.

This principle resists decision-making based upon the “best available science,” mandated by US law. In practice, however, we see increasing challenges to exploration industry activities calling for “precautionary” mitigation measures and agency decisions, regardless of the proposed activities’ actual limited impact on the environment or affected species. In the Mediterranean, environmental activists attempted unsuccessfully to oust IAGC from a treaty group after it urged science-based mitigation, rather than strict adherence to the precautionary principle. And even in the US, the principle is flexing its muscle.

The Obama administration recently denied applications to conduct seismic surveying in the Atlantic, kowtowing to environmental activists and substituting politics for science. The decision directly contradicted the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s own repeated findings that there is no scientific evidence of sound from seismic surveys adversely impacting marine animal populations, the environment, commercial fishing, or coastal communities. IAGC is working to reverse this egregious decision and see these surveys proposed for the Atlantic permitted without delay.

Since IAGC increased its focus in regulatory and government engagement and advocacy just over three years ago, it has been shaping and leading the oil and gas industry’s dialogue on the geophysical industry’s interaction with the environment, and engaging government and regulatory entities with credible scientific, technical, and legal analysis. IAGC will continue to advocate for informed energy policies that are based on the best available data, so that exploration is supported by scientific impact analyses, and development decisions are made with an updated understanding of the resources available.

As the oil services market recovers, be assured that the IAGC is working now to ensure that the industry is positioned for future success and the exploration industry still has the opportunity to operate onshore and offshore around the world for decades to come. And as new resource plays are discovered, and existing fields are yielding more than anticipated, one will find the geophysical industry at the forefront of turning yesterday’s overlooked and impossible into today’s discoveries.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Delivering Change: Service And Supply Companies Finding Ways To Thrive In The New Normal

By: Maurice Smith
Published By: Daily Oil Bulletin
March 20th, 2017

It's official. Cautious optimism has crept into the oil and gas industry entering 2017 as the price of oil hovers around $50 per bbl and companies are looking to modestly grow spending and increase drilling activity as they align to the new normal of improving, if not exceptional, commodity prices going forward.

At least, that is the feeling of most of the respondents to the Grant Thornton sponsored JWN Service & Supply 2017 Outlook Report: Delivering change: aligning with a new normal. The comprehensive report, which includes the results of a survey of over 350 representatives of the service and supply industry, will be released in April.

One thing is clear, the report found -- service and supply companies have to learn how to operate in a new normal in order to not only survive, but to thrive. It was a theme that played out at two industry workshops held in conjunction with the survey.

Workshops were held in Edmonton and Calgary in January. In order to facilitate open communication the workshops were conducted under the Chatham House Rules that allow participants the freedom to voice ideas without their statements being credited to them as individuals or organizations.

Other themes to emerge at the workshops included the necessity to continue to restructure to remain competitive in the new normal; the need to attract new employees who are adaptable to the new environment and who will be the leaders of tomorrow; the need to build continuity and succession planning into the enterprise; and the benefits that can be derived from diversifying into new products, services, industries and geographies.

For many service and supply companies, aligning to the new normal revolves around a new focus on meeting the needs to the customer: building a better product or service, building trust and open lines of communication with the customer, and approaching deals as a win-win proposition for both sides. Keeping and satisfying present customers is a priority versus aggressively chasing new ones.

Workshop participants spoke of taking a customer facing approach, increasing co-operation with competition and/or like businesses and finding ways to "be the best contractor."

"Collaboration has been a focus for us this year," said one participant. "You don't want to give your customer incentive to go find another supplier. You want to come closer to them to build trust for your product."

"We are more customer-oriented and listen to them to deliver solutions as required," said another.

With activity expected to experience an uptick if crude oil prices remain firm, there is increased focus on employee training and hiring practices, and on creating the right workforce for the new normal. Many companies are engaged in long-term planning for how to attract and retain new talent, aiming to be less reactive and more stable going forward, and finding ways to build company loyalty.

One participant put it this way: "There's been a lot of change in how we do business. Some of it is driven internally -- doing so much with so few -- and coming up with better ways to do things. We are hiring too. We are bringing in different people than we let go, with different skillsets. They are more open-minded, less specific, and not age-dependent. As we reduced staff, people that were let go were those who were too specific and unable to 'cross' [roles and skills]."

Said another: "Companies are looking for people who are open, adaptable [and] understand all of it -- not just one very specific area. A mix of technical and business/sales/marketing [expertise]. The people who can do bother are very rare."

One company said it was focused on retooling and cross-training its staff, and "rebuilding its bench strength" as it looks forward to 2017. It is also exploring the option of building a technology platform to make it easier to connect contractors, vendors and customers.

Lessons learned from the boom and bust cycle have also played into new hiring practices. "We take company culture seriously. The culture suffered when we were growing. During growth, it was all about finding warm bodies. We didn't really look at whether they would be a good fit. Now, we've been able to concentrate on culture in positive way. It's important to hire people that 'fit' into company culture."

The cyclical nature of the business also puts succession planning and mentorship increasingly in the spotlight. The current environment makes it a good time to "have a good look at who you have and develop them for the future."

"Now it's about building the culture internally and spending more time mentoring and training ... building more junior assets so that when they get busy, they are ready."

Having the right workforce also entails creating a healthy work environment to attract and keep the best candidates. "[We are] focused on creating an environment where employees thrive and love coming to work," one said. "People prefer a steady job, stability and good benefits rather than high pay, high volatility. [The priority is in] engaging employees and giving them a voice to be active participants for changes within the organization."

"If you harness their interest, they'll give you 200 percent," said another. "If your employees are engaged, they will appreciate that [and will be loyal]. Companies that have not engaged their employees, [those employees] are just waiting around for something better and waiting to jump ship."

Cross training is another big priority; even more critical with the reductions in staffing that has occurred in recent years. "Your job is what we require you to do, not what your title says."

"Today, personal development/training is not optional, it is mandatory," another added.

Companies need to be proactive in transferring knowledge from those who will be leaving the workforce to their successors, as increasing numbers of the baby boomers hit retirement age, many participants said. While large companies tend to have processes in place to deal with continuity, many smaller companies do not, putting knowledge retention at risk when staff turnover occurs.

"You need to capture the [company] knowledge and keep it with the company, not the person. Lots of times people walk out the door with their laptops [containing that knowledge] -- we see this all the time," offered one workshop partaker.
"Look at all the processes and document them all."

"Salespeople should document their relationships," another offered.

Standard procedures can be put in place to ensure that important data is not lost and that knowledge will be passed on in a systematic way. "There's a lot of unleveraged data,: said one executive. It may "sit in someone's spreadsheet buried away -- data would be there but value diminishes if no one knows what it means. Even if it's on the company server, it may be impossible to find."

Technology could also play a role in maintaining valuable data. Field operators can collect data on a smart phone or laptop, collect data on well sites and sync data automatically to the cloud, for example.

Meanwhile, diversification was found to be one route to prosperity for some companies in the downturn. "We added complementary services and with a bit of trail and error it proved to be hugely beneficial. We broadened our scope of operations beyond Alberta and focused on tapping the U.S. market."

Another company said it used the downturn as an opportunity to invest in research and development to create a new product it plans to launch into the Canadian and international markets in 2017.

Others said they were leveraging government agencies and not-for-profit organizations to obtain funds and expertise to assist in going global and accessing new markets, and are now well positioned to take their business to the next level in 2017.

The Service & Supply 2017 Outlook Report will be released the first week of April, with launch events in Calgary April 4 and in Edmonton April 6. Key findings and insights from the report, including recommendations essential for companies aligning to the new normal, will be represented. For more information or to register,

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Reality bites: Carbon pricing in Canada and beyond

By: Jason Clemens and Kenneth Green - Analysts with the Fraser Institute
Published: Forts Nelson News

             TROY MEDIA - There's a general, indeed a strong consensus, within the economic community that a properly designed carbon tax can both reduce emissions and improve the economy. We broadly agree with this academic analysis. The problem is that carbon taxes in the real world have to be implemented through a political system that deviates substantially from the academic ideal.
            Economists tend to agree that the most efficient way to manage emissions is by placing a price on them that reflects the social costs of the emissions. By placing a price on carbon, emitting firms are incentivized to introduce emission-reducing technologies or change their production. In other words, the introduction of a price on carbon creates incentives for firms (and individuals) to respond to the social costs of emissions.
            Critically, however, there are several key assumptions necessary for this approach to be efficient. First, the introduction of a carbon price must replace, not be in addition to, existing regulations.
            Second, revenues from carbon pricing (i.e. tax) must be used in their totality to reduce other more costly taxes such as marginal personal or business income taxes. The idea is that revenues from carbon pricing are used to reduce other more damaging taxes so there's a net improvement in incentives for investment and entrepreneurship, which yield stronger economic growth.
            Third, and related to the second, revenues from the carbon tax should not be used to subsidize substitutes (wind, solar, or other alternative energies) for carbon-emitting activities since the whole point of introducing the price on carbon is to allow the market to determine the optimal substitutes.
             No jurisdiction in or outside of Canada, including much-heralded British Columbia, meets these assumptions. No province or country has introduced an "ideal" carbon-pricing system and thus the benefits from it will necessarily be less than theory suggests.
            No jurisdiction that introduced carbon pricing has eliminated the corresponding command-and-control regulations. Europe, California, and all of the Canadian provinces have retained most, if not all of their existing regulations after introducing carbon pricing.
            Moreover, no province or country has maintained revenue neutrality for carbon pricing.
Perhaps the closest and certainly most talked about is B.C., which maintained revenue neutrality for the first five years of its carbon tax. However, beginning in 2013-14, B.C.'s carbon tax began generating revenues in excess of the legitimate tax offsets. Indeed, the government's own projections indicate that the carbon tax will generate almost $900 million in net revenues over a six-year period.
           Finally, many jurisdictions including Ontario specifically use carbon-pricing revenues to subsidize alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Subsidizing carbon-intense energy substitutes such as wind and solar short-circuits the market process envisioned by carbon pricing advocates by having governments choose the "right" solution.
            Further complicating the economics of carbon pricing are considerations regarding competitiveness and potential leakage. Specifically, adding a carbon tax means that the costs for firms in carbon-intensive industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and resources are higher relative to their incentives for firms to switch production from jurisdictions with carbon taxes to those without, which would damage the Canadian economy without providing any environmental benefit. This is made all the more poignant now that it's clear the United States will not introduce a national carbon tax.
           Our own federal government has mandated carbon pricing for all provinces by 2018. It's imperative, therefore, that we understand the realities of carbon pricing as opposed to their theoretical possibilities. The politically altered carbon pricing observed in and outside of Canada including B.C.'s carbon tax will inevitably deliver lower benefits than the theoretical models predict or advocates suggest - and do real harm to the Canadian economy.