The Round-Up: November 13th 2006

Expansion of Alberta's booming oilsands industry is threatening Canadian freshwater reserves

The study warns that although Canada has extensive water resources, even a moderate amount of climate change will impact water flows in the Great Lakes and the Athabasca River enough to reduce hydro-electricity production in Ontario and oil sands development in Alberta.
Ontario faces $1B hit on Bruce project

The Ontario government could find itself paying hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties if, come 2009, it doesn't have enough transmission in place to accept electricity from two nuclear reactors being refurbished by Bruce Power.

As part of the $4.25 billion Bruce A restart program, reactor units 1 and 2 could be brought back into service as early as 2009 with the ability to contribute 1,500 megawatts of much-needed power to the Ontario market.

According to documents obtained by Greenpeace Canada under a freedom of information request, the Ministry of Energy expressed concern back in September 2005 -- a month before the government signed its refurbishment contract with Bruce Power -- that transmission requirements couldn't be guaranteed by the 2009 deadline.

The documents also disclose that the province would have to pay stiff penalties if it didn't have adequate transmission in place in southwestern Ontario to access power from the refurbished reactors.

"Under contract with Bruce, cost to Ontario for stranding one nuclear unit is $460 million per year," according to a ministry presentation marked "confidential."

Power authority calls for upgrades to Bruce-Toronto line: report

Hydro One has said a second line from the Bruce peninsula will be needed by 2009 to handle the additional power expected when two nuclear reactors return to service and when new wind farms start operating.

The 2009 deadline likely can't be met because the province hasn't given Hydro One permission to start work on the line. A delay in construction would mean about $1 billion in penalties to the province.

Australia, Saudi Arabia take early lead for gaffes at UN climate parley

Australia and Saudi Arabia have taken the early lead in an unofficial contest for the dubious distinction of committing the worst gaffes at a UN climate conference here.

Australia, for claiming it is as vulnerable to global warming as Africa and the Pacific, and Saudi Arabia, for demanding access to climate change relief funds, won the top two spots Thursday in the first "Fossil of the Day" awards run by an unofficial conference newsletter.

I posted about the water issue here, near the bottom of today's Drumbeat. Not even the Athabasca is running out of water, though the effect of expansion of oilsands production on the flow and water quality downstream of the development area could use some clarification. Anyone interested in this issue should look at the RAMP reports.
Leanan has posted in Drumbeat the link to a well-written story in the Energy Bulletin about production from the oil sands.  
Thanks Porsena. I had noticed that one (oringinally from Whiskey and Gunpowder), but hadn't posted it as it is to be the subject of a separate discussion post shortly.

By all means send in any links you may come across in your internet travels that you think should be mentioned here.

Still on the oil sands theme, Suncor has announced plans to spend $5.3B on capital next year, including $4.4B on oilsands

Suncor said the money will go to "company-wide growth projects, debottlenecking and productivity improvement in the oilsands business" as well as development spending in the natural gas business.

The oilsands investment will include $900 million on existing operations, including the relocating of mining and extraction facilities to support extended mining areas.

Another $1 billion will be spent to increase production to 350,000 barrels per day in 2008 and $2.5 billion towards Suncor's goal of producing more than 500,000 barrels per day some time between 2010 and 2012.

These numbers give an idea of where Suncor will put some of its money on its proposed $7-billion Voyageur mine expansion project, which will include a third oilsands upgrader, southwest of Suncor's existing facilities near Fort McMurray. Suncor is looking for regulatory approval of the project by the end of this year with construction to begin in 2007.

The proposed upgrader is being designed to produce light crude oil.

About $350 million will support Suncor's natural gas business, with the goal of expanding production by three per cent to five per cent per year.

Enbridge is pitching its Gateway pipeline project in China.  The proposed Gateway pipeline would run between Edmonton and Kitimat, on Canada's west coast, and would provide an alternative market to the US for expanded crude production from the oil sands. Enbridge is pursuing Sinopec and CNOOC as funding partners.

The company has touted the proposed 1,100-kilometre Gateway pipeline as critical to realizing the desire of Western Canadian oil producers to diversify their markets and gain access to booming Asian demand.

Yesterday, Mr. Bird told an oil sands conference that by 2015 Canada would have an additional 600,000 barrels per day of crude oil production that could be allocated to Asian markets, according to Bloomberg News.

One has to laugh at the irony of today's Round-up.  If only those Bruce reactors could be placed in Northern Alta...