The Round-Up: May 22, 2008

Many thanks to "peakto" for his help.

Record oil here to stay: Scotiabank

The Bank of Nova Scotia says Canadians should get used to current record-high oil prices, because they'll be with us for the rest of the decade. The bank's commodities report suggests most commodities have hit or are headed to record prices, with the bank's commodity price index up 5.7 per cent over March.

Fuel costs hurting Air Canada

High fuel prices that are consuming a growing proportion of income at Air Canada will likely hurt demand for air travel, the airline's chief executive said yesterday. Montie Brewer, Air Canada's president and CEO, said the rapid rise and volatility of fuel prices was a concern at the country's biggest airline, which is pushing ahead with plans to use newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft."The severity of it will impact customer demand. We'll see how much the customer can absorb and still plan on travelling," he told reporters after the company's annual meeting.

Denmark seeks Arctic peace on eve of Greenland summit

Denmark's foreign minister has made a plea for peace among Arctic nations, including Canada, on the eve of an international summit in Greenland aimed at easing territorial tensions in a region experiencing unprecedented melting and thought to contain a quarter of the world's remaining oil reserves. Per Stig Moller's appeal for countries to end the "rush" for control over the Arctic and the emerging competition over "who comes first or who plants their flag where" -- a clear reference to last summer's controversial Russian expedition to the North Pole -- coincides with a new prediction by U. S. scientists that, for the first time in recorded history, the pole itself could become ice-free at the height of this summer's thaw.

Canada’s Arctic mapping key to resource claims: Lunn

After returning from a trip to the polar cap where he visited a northern Canadian research outpost, Lunn said "I really think it's important that we have jurisdictional control to ensure that we decide what's in our nation's interest," Lunn said in a phone interview. "We (would) make the rules on ensuring that the environment remains protected not to mention the economic benefits of the natural resources as well."

Expect more hikes at the pumps: Harper

Gas prices will likely continue to rise for the next several years and there is little governments can do to lower them, the Prime Minister said Wednesday. "I don't think government should fool people into thinking it can control the price of gas. It - generally speaking - can't," Stephen Harper told reporters during an announcement at a fruit farm in Southern Ontario. "These prices are set internationally. We are seeing increased prices around the world."

Gas headed for up to $1.50 a litre, analysts say

"What we haven't seen yet is that seasonal rise in gas prices related to supply and demand," she said. In the early summer, prices usually jump along with demand, as drivers head out on vacation trips, Ms. Hay said. In most years, this adds about 10 to 15 cents to the price of a litre of gas. The price then tends to slip back as the summer progresses. Last year, the jump was as much as 25 cents a litre because gasoline inventories were low, but this spring "what will serve to moderate the spike is the fact that we are entering the peak gasoline demand season with inventories in quite good shape," she said. Others think prices could go even higher. Jason Toews, co-founder of the website, said he expects prices to hit $1.50 to $1.60 a litre in Canada this summer, and possibly more if crude oil continues to rise.

Thank you so much for reviving ODC. I see it is quiet here so far but given the mess that Canada's energy future is in, I look forward to some discussions here as time goes on.

Last year at this time I made presentations to two hearth industry groups (I'm a wood heating consultant) on peak oil. The presentations were well received, with no hostility and all the people who commented said they really enjoyed it, which is a little odd considering the bleak news. Oil was about $65 at the time.

This year I've been invited back by one of the groups and I've chosen to present on what to do about it, personally and professionally. The audience will be hearth retailers, which I suspect may still have businesses in a few years if they adjust their business practices and product lines appropriately.

Anyhow, the point I wanted to make is that this runup in oil and gasoline prices will do wonders for the attentiveness of my audience on Monday during the presentation. Also, my credibility is good since, although I don't make specific predictions, I did say not to expect the oil price to fall. Just lately I'm finding people who are not peak-aware are more willing to listen to the message than in the past. I trust others are finding the same.

I'll let you know how it goes.

There are some more interesting tidbits in the NP pump prices article:

In opposition, Mr. Harper complained that taxes on gasoline were too high and pledged to stop charging GST on gas costing more than 85¢ a litre and to end the practise of taxing the full pump price of gas, including other taxes included in the price.


Mr. Harper criticized Stéphane Dion, the Liberal leader, for proposing a carbon tax, saying it will only add to prices at the pump.

Isn't Harper going in completely the wrong direction with this? That gas tax revenue will be made up for in some other way. The Toronto Star article ( on this also had these quotes from Harper:

"In the next generation, our economy will have to make a significant transition to a lot less reliance on hydrocarbons," he said.

"What government shouldn't do is jump in and actually increase the taxes on these products which, as you know, is what my opposition is proposing to do."

So he wants to make gas cheaper and at the same time create a "significant transition to a lot less reliance on hydrocarbons"...right.

I agree, he's been pandering, but from his perspective it's a good move. The public hears the two things they want to hear, that gas taxes will not be raised and that we'll magically transition away from petroleum when the tipping point arrives. Perhaps most people see the contradiction here or, more likely, perhaps they don't, but what I'm certain about is that a lot of people don't care.

Harper seems to be doing an excellent job of staying in the 30-40% popular vote range, by toeing the Conservative MO of simultaneously offering no worthwhile solutions and viciously attacking anybody else's. I really don't know what will break the political stalemate here. Dion has the right ideas, but he absolutely lacks the strength of character to back his beliefs with action (aka the Paul Martin syndrome), and, maybe it's just me, but I swear his English is getting worse every day.

You're right though, the level of apathy in Canada these days is frightening.

TJ in Ottawa

"Dion has the right ideas, but he absolutely lacks the strength of character to back his beliefs with action (aka the Paul Martin syndrome), and, maybe it's just me, but I swear his English is getting worse every day."

I'm with you. Dion is just not a strong leader. When the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy published their report on the path forward and suggested a carbon tax, Dion was with Harper in slamming the idea. I'm glad he's changed his mind but it doesn't help with his case as being a good leader.

HEY DUDE! About 'not caring', dontcha know, we may not have tech but we do got OIL and so what if the forest industry, the tourist industry, the auto guys all dry up and blow away with the tumbleweeds, we not only have that OIL we got both kinds of energy, we got NATURAL GAS along side of OIL. So my little cowpoke, relax your well ploughed furrow ridden brow and just put your cowboy boots up on grandma's kitchen table, then with a store brand beer clasped firmly, let's all sing a chorus of Home on the Range, you know, where the skies are never cloudy all day, eh! (More fitting perhaps though could be the song of our Australian Commonwealth brothers' National bird, of course singing with one's head planted firmly in the sand gives a certain grittiness to that refrain.

Hey, at least there's a pleasing consensus on rising gas prices.

That's much preferable to, "No, we're not at risk of a recession!", "Yes, we are at risk of a recession!", "OMG, we're all doomed!", "Shut up, you jackass, we're better than ever!"