Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don Bester A loan that will never be paid back, if the current levy can not support cleaning up orphan wells how do they expect to pay a $235 million loan plus interest. Notley's bandaid. Like · Reply ·

I am curious how long all this junk will go on in Alberta. The tailings ponds for example have been diligently worked on for decades and there is no solution to their remediation. Money that was wasted on trying to prove to us that the oil and gas industry is actually responsible and is trying to clean up after itself would have been better spent on citizens. The fact is that the tailings ponds won't be cleaned up. The oil and gas industry folks are smart enough to play us every time and we're stuck with this mess as a future liability or just as a moonscape.
As for the orphan well program? It's a problem that the oil and gas industry will walk away from. I have no confidence in any of these players doing anything for the people of Alberta.
Eventually the citizens will loose their credulous belief in the industry and social license will dwindle but not in time to save the environment.
We've also got a problem with the use of water but no one tells me just how much water is going down the drain with the oil and gas industry.
All of these problems are entrenched thanks to the PCs and not being resolved thanks to the NDPCs.
I don't think the Wildrose folks will deal with these problems either as everyone is major inclined to let the oil and gas industry continue as the head of government.
It's troubling but what can one stay at home mummy do?
https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/03/22/Budget-Cheque-Alberta-Resource/

Tucked in Budget, a $30-Million Mystery Cheque for Alberta Resource Sector

Senior public servants provided little information on the payment.

By James Munson 22 Mar 2017 | TheTyee.ca
James Munson writes for iPolitics, where this story first appeared.
PumpJackSunrise.jpgAlberta’s oil and gas sector, while still recovering after a two-year plunge in global crude prices, is no longer in the funk it once was.
The federal Liberals are handing Alberta a one-time cheque for $30 million — apparently with few strings attached.
Tucked away in sections with a focus on energy, the 2017-18 federal budget includes two brief paragraphs on the payment, which is apparently meant to help Edmonton “stimulate economic activity and employment in Alberta’s resource sector.”
Senior public servants weren’t able to provide any additional information on the payment or say whether it is being sent with any conditions during a media lock-up for the budget Wednesday.
The oil and gas sector, while still recovering after a two-year plunge in global crude prices, is no longer in the funk it once was. Last year, the federal budget changed Employment Insurance rules to make it easier for unemployed Albertans to take advantage of the program.
Alberta’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5 per cent in January after hitting a peak of nine per cent in November.

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

The federal government is spending $100 million this year to help clean tech firms finance themselves, while there are few new supports for companies working in fossil fuels.
The budget includes a change to a tax credit used by oil and gas companies that will require firms to claim the discovery of previously unknown petroleum or natural gas reservoirs as a development expense, not as an exploration expense.
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Federal Budget Invests $2.2 Billion in Metro Van Transit, Cuts Transit Tax Credit
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s support for a national carbon pricing plan has been repeatedly described as critical to the future of Canada’s energy sector by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Her government is implementing a carbon tax and a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector. At the same time, the federal Liberals have approved several crude oil pipelines out of the province.
There are 162,280 people, or around 6.9 per cent of the provincial population, working in the energy sector in Alberta, according to Natural Resources Canada.
Read more: Energy


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/30m-in-federal-budget-for-alberta-orphan-wells-1.4037140

$30M in federal budget for orphan wells welcomed by premier

Notley also pleased with money for First Nations water, child care

By Michelle Bellefontaine, CBC News Posted: Mar 22, 2017 5:25 PM MT Last Updated: Mar 22, 2017 6:19 PM MT
Premier Rachel Notley says $30 million to reclaim orphan wells will help put Albertans back to work.
Premier Rachel Notley says $30 million to reclaim orphan wells will help put Albertans back to work. (CBC )
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Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government's decision to give Alberta $30 million to remediate orphan wells is good news for the province.
The one-time funding was contained within the federal budget released Wednesday in Ottawa.
"This is money we have been strongly advocating for over the past few weeks and months," Notley said.
"We will leverage this money to aim more resources at putting Albertans back to work and reclaiming orphan wells."
A well is considered orphaned when its owner has gone out of business and can't cover the reclamation cost. Improperly cleaned up wells can contaminate the land and water.
There were approximately 1,395 orphaned wells in Alberta at the end of last year, according to Alberta Energy.
Notley says her government will have more details on what will be done with this money in the first half of 2017.
Notley is also pleased the federal government wants to spend $1.1 billion on critical upgrades to Indigenous communities including improvements to drinking water.
The Alberta NDP government is dedicating $100 million over four years to improving water on First Nations reserves.
The Trudeau Liberals wants to end all boil-water orders on Canadian reserves by 2021.
Notley said the $7 billion allocated for child care spaces over 10 years will help her government expand its own program, which is in the pilot stage. She said Alberta should see about $30 to $70 million of that money this year.

'When the rubber actually hits the road'

Notley was asked about the Saskatchewan budget, which saw the government raise the provincial sales tax by one per cent and cut the money set aside for public sector wages by 3.5 per cent.
Premier Brad Wall's government is also making cuts to post-secondary funding, libraries, and education.
Saskatchewan's provincial sales tax now also applies to children's clothing, construction services and restaurant meals.
Notley said her government chose to invest in public services and avoid salary cuts that take money out of the economy.
"When the opposition tells us that we can balance the budget and not make any changes to public services and not raise taxes, what we've said all along is that is simply not true," she said.
"What we see in Saskatchewan is what happens when the rubber actually hits the road."
Notley said she stands by her oft-repeated statement that her government will not introduce a PST in this mandate.

"That's just not the kind of significant shift that I believe one would make without being pretty clear with voters that you're going that road," she said.



http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Tailings+ponds+long+term+liability+oilsands+with+video/9252123/story.html




Tailings ponds: The long-term liability of the oilsands (with video)

SHEILA PRATT, EDMONTON JOURNAL  03.14.2014
An oil-soaked American coot is cleaned by workers from Focus Wildlife Canada at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton on May 4, 2008. About 1,600 waterfowl perished in a Syncrude tailings pond one month earlier, kicking off a firestorm of protests about oilsands pollution.
An oil-soaked American coot is cleaned by workers from Focus Wildlife Canada at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton on May 4, 2008. About 1,600 waterfowl perished in a Syncrude tailings pond one month earlier, kicking off a firestorm of protests about oilsands pollution.LARRY WONG / EDMONTON JOURNAL
An aerial view of Suncor’s tailings pond 6, which was once the company’s original mid-1960s open-pit mine
An aerial view of Suncor’s tailings pond 6, which was once the company’s original mid-1960s open-pit mineRYAN JACKSON / EDMONTON JOURNAL

RELATED

Originally published December 7, 2013.
Fort McMurray — On an early summer day, a Suncor van heads up the hill to an open meadow surrounded by trees. Just seven years earlier, Wapisiw Lookout had been covered with a massive tailings pond, the messy, toxic remnants of 30 years of mining.
Today, that 220 hectares marks the only site in the oilsands of northeast Alberta where a tailings pond has been drained, refilled with 65,000 truckloads of soil, then replanted with more than 600,000 trees and shrubs.
As the van pulls ahead, a small black bear dashes out of the bush onto the road, then quickly heads back to the safety of the trees. If all goes according to plan, the wildlife will return along with forest, says Suncor tour co-ordinator Kailyn Park. -
The oldest mining operation in the northeast, circa 1967, Suncor is proud of this reclamation project — though it will take 20 years to find out if the effort will successfully qualify for official certification from the province.
Tailings ponds are one of the most contentious and stubborn environmental impacts of oilsands mining and they’re set to get much bigger as mining expands.
The vast artificial holding ponds are filled with a mix of water, sand, clay, residual bitumen, heavy metals and chemicals from solvents used in separating the oil from the sand. The mixture has a yogurt-like consistency.
The residual bitumen leaves an oily surface on the ponds that is lethal to birds. In 2008, 1,600 ducks died on a nearby Syncrude tailings pond, pushing the ponds issue into international headlines. The polluted pools occupy 30 to 50 per cent of a mine footprint and have more than tripled in size from 50 square kilometres in 2005 to 176 square kilometres in 2010. They are expected to grow by another 40 per cent by some estimates.
It’s not an easy problem to solve. Companies have spent millions on handling mine waste, but it takes years for the fine tailings to settle to the bottom of the holding ponds to clear the water. The ponds could stay on the landscape for decades after the mines close — unless new technology is found.
PREMATURE PREDICTION TO THE END OF TAILINGS PONDS
In 2009, faced with growing public concern, the provincial regulator decided to step in.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board came up with ambitious new rules requiring companies to find ways to shrink the ponds. Companies had two years to reduce pond size by about 50 per cent, mostly by drying the tailings and spreading them on the land.
This Directive 74 was a major shift — for the previous 40 years, managing and cleaning up the ponds had been left to companies’ voluntary efforts outlined in project proposals.
But new technology remains elusive. Companies could not meet the ERCB targets even when the requirements were softened in some cases. So in June 2013, the ERCB suddenly backed off Directive 74 after no company managed to meet the new standards. No one would be penalized for missing the targets, it decided.
The 2009 targets were “too optimistic,” says the regulator. “It will take longer than expected” to meet them.
The ERCB decision to back away was awkward for the provincial government.
In the previous 12 months, Premier Alison Redford had been assuring U.S. audiences that tailing ponds will soon be gone. In an April 2013 speech to the Brookings Institute in New York, Redford told the crowd: “Tailings ponds will disappear from Alberta’s landscape in the very near future and reclamation of existing tailings ponds has begun.”
As it turns out, that prediction was premature.
The Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank, says the province needs to revive the directive.
INDUSTRY TESTING PROJECTS TO SOLVE THE TAILINGS PROBLEM
Tailings ponds are a threat to groundwater and air quality as well as wildlife, which is especially attracted to polluted water in the winter.
About 11 million litres a day of toxic waste water seeps from the ponds into adjacent water and into the Athabasca River, says Pembina’s Simon Dyer. In addition to chemicals such as naphthenic acids are heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead and zinc, some of which come from solvents added to the bitumen.
Also, the ponds are responsible for fugitive emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and hydrogen sulphide, says Dyer.
The oil industry says companies make a good effort to prevent water from escaping the ponds. For instance, ditches around tailings ponds contain the seepage, says the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
And, in the wake of Directive 74, the industry took action. In 2011, seven mining companies — Syncrude, Canadian Natural Resources, Suncor, Imperial Oil, Shell, Teck Resources and Total E&P — collaborated to create the Oilsands Tailings Consortium. They agreed to share their research and put $90 million into a renewed joint effort to solve the tailings problem.
Out of this came several joint projects.
Syncrude, the second oldest miner, has plans to build a huge, $3-billion centrifuge to spin tailings sludge and remove the water. The remaining dry tailings can be spread on the land. CNRL is testing the use of carbon dioxide injected into tailings ponds to help the particles settle faster. That would leave cleaner water on top ready to be recycled.
Shell is using a process called “atmospheric fines drying,” which involves using a large barge to collect mature fine tailings (MFT) from the tailings pond and transferring them to a drying area. “The mature fine tailings are then mixed with flocculants — chemical agents which help bring the fine clay particles in the MFT together — and placed on a sloped surface to help speed up the release of water from the clay,” Shell said in a 2010 news release. “The released water runs down the sloped surface to a collection area and is returned to the external tailings facility for reuse in the extraction process. What remains are deposits that are further dried to meet strength and reclamation requirements.”
Suncor is trying a new approach — mixing polymer flocculants with tailings to make the clay particles stick together — while Syncrude is trying one of the more controversial solutions, an end-pit lake.
CAN A FRESH-WATER CAP SUPPORT A NATURAL ECOSYSTEM?
In November 2012, Syncrude got approval from the province to pump millions of litres of fresh water into a 20-year-old tailings pond to form a five-metre cap of clean water on Base Mine Lake. In mining parlance, it’s called an end-pit lake, though in most mining, end-pit lakes (in the last pit mined) do not contain toxic tailings.
The theory is that heavier tailings and toxic material will stay at the bottom while a freshwater cap will support the growth of bugs and bacteria to create an ecosystem that will eventually support fish life. Over time, bacteria at the bottom of the lake will eat the toxic substances.
The company is confident the demonstration project will be successful because they’ve proven the method on smaller test ponds, Glen Rovang, Syncrude’s manager of research, told the Journal in December 2012.
“It’s very exciting,” Rovang said. “We’ll get aquatic reclamation and very efficient, low-energy tailings management.”
Brett Purdy, tailings expert in Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources, says the key question is: Will it take years or decades for tailings ponds covered with a fresh water cap to support a natural ecosystem?
“What is the acceptable timeline that meets the needs of stakeholders and the government of Alberta, which is responsible for protecting the public interest?” said Purdy, declining to specify what that timeline ought to be.
If Syncrude is successful, that would be good news for other mining companies. They have already submitted plans to build about 30 such artificial end-pit lakes over the next 50 years and more than half will be used to store tailings permanently.
Critics aren’t so sure.
The Pembina Institute warns: “If after decades this process is found not to work, then Alberta will be left with dozens of toxic lakes and a costly liability.”
A technical report on end-pit lakes done for the province also called for caution. “When scientific uncertainty is high and the potential for substantial negative and environmental impact exists — a likely scenario with end-pit lakes — decision-makers and designers should err on the side of caution,” writes the Cumulative Environmental Management Association.
Alberta Environment was expected to release its own management framework to deal with tailings ponds from old mines. Those older ponds, containing 40-year-old waste, were exempted from Directive 74.
The new Alberta Energy Regulator, which replaced the ERCB in June 2013, will issue its next report on tailings in 2015 — though industry is already warning that may be too soon.
Meanwhile, in March 2012, the seven companies in the tailings consortium morphed into Canadian Oilsands Innovation Alliance. They also set up a collaboration with a provincial government research agency, called Alberta Innovates — Energy and Environment Solutions, to track the best technology for cleaning up and reducing tailings ponds.
“We laud the commitment of industry who shared propriety data around their tailings technology development … for the advancement of science and the industry as a whole,” said Eddy Isaacs, CEO of Alberta Innovates.
spratt@edmontonjournal.com
Other stories in The Oilsands, Part 4: Environment
Photo gallery: What they say about the oilsands and the environment




Julie Ali · 

Troubling that we have to read all this spin when there appears to be no real solution to the remediation of the tailings ponds. What this means is that Alberta will be left with a permanent moonscape that represents a liability for future generations.

In addition to the costs of remediation (if remediation is at all possible), I am concerned about how much water is being used by the oil and gas industry. I wonder if the government of Alberta could be transparent and let us know what the usage of water is and how Alberta will deal with water shortages in the future.

I am also curious about groundwater contamination and what sort of public data is available to show before and after laboratory results where fracking and other oil and gas work is done.

It appears to me that the oversight by the folks at hte GOA and at the energy regulator (AER) is not very good. I imagine that no one really has a good handle on the issues and this is the reason why problems have persisted for decades such as the failures of government to get the polluter to pay for the messes in terms of the tailings ponds and in terms of the orphan well program.

It's pretty sad. But I guess this is what happens when the oil and gas industry is in charge of the political parties in Alberta and elsewhere and democracy is subverted by this sort of capture.
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Why are we paying the richest industry in Alberta in the form of an interest free loan to do it's own work of clean up of orphan wells? What are we? The Bank of the Elite and the Emperor/Empress Industry in Alberta? It's time that all of these groups got off the taxpayer teats and did their own liability work with their own cash and not ours. It's shameful.

A $235-million loan from Alberta, financed with $30-million from the federal government, is expected to create 1,650 jobs to clean up some old oil and gas wells.
NATIONALOBSERVER.COM


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Don Bester A loan that will never be paid back, if the current levy can not support cleaning up orphan wells how do they expect to pay a $235 million loan plus interest. Notley's bandaid.

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9 hrs
Doug Simpson · Friends with Don Bester
Did you not mean Notley's brain dead?

Reply7 hrs
Merna Anderberg-Jacklin A fund should have been set up for this as part of the royalty payments from the get go. Then this wouldn't be an issue. Now we are on the hook again. The companies made the profits, the shareholders got their dividends and we pay to clean up the mess. This has to stop

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Don Bester The Alberta Surface Rights Group made that exact recommendation Merna but it fell on deaf ears especially when the consultation process consisted of two landowner groups and 78 oil and gas companies.

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Julie Ali Don Bester Troubling that nothing changes in Alberta.

Reply3 mins
Julie Ali I figure that the orphan well program is not the only legacy of the oil and gas industry. We will have a permanent moonscape in the tailings ponds. The scientists who were doing research on remediation of the tailings ponds are now retiring which indicates -at least to me--that the money wasted on research would have been better spent on the citizens of Alberta. Meanwhile the spin is super:http://www.edmontonjournal.com/.../Tai.../9252123/story.html The Pembina Institute warns: “If after decades this process is found not to work, then Alberta will be left with dozens of toxic lakes and a costly liability.”

A technical report on end-pit lakes done for the province also called for caution. “When scientific uncertainty is high and the potential for substantial negative and environmental impact exists — a likely scenario with end-pit lakes — decision-makers and designers should err on the side of caution,” writes the Cumulative Environmental Management Association.

Alberta Environment was expected to release its own management framework to deal with tailings ponds from old mines. Those older ponds, containing 40-year-old waste, were exempted from Directive 74.

The new Alberta Energy Regulator, which replaced the ERCB in June 2013, will issue its next report on tailings in 2015 — though industry is already warning that may be too soon.

Meanwhile, in March 2012, the seven companies in the tailings consortium morphed into Canadian Oilsands Innovation Alliance. They also set up a collaboration with a provincial government research agency, called Alberta Innovates — Energy and Environment Solutions, to track the best technology for cleaning up and reducing tailings ponds.

“We laud the commitment of industry who shared propriety data around their tailings technology development … for the advancement of science and the industry as a whole,” said Eddy Isaacs, CEO of Alberta Innovates.


Fort McMurray — On an early summer day, a…
EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM
Julie Ali The NDPCs are smarter than the PCs. They don't give the money directly to the oil and gas industry as Stelmach did with the $30 million gift. Instead they tell us it is just a "loan" with interest charges covered with the $30 million from the feds.It's a shameful betrayal of the public interest by the party that supposedly is all for the little guy and gal in Alberta. I saw no targeting of the $30 million by the federal Liberals for the oil and gas industry but the Notley immediately pins the money as a gift for the industry: http://www.cbc.ca/.../30m-in-federal-budget-for-alberta... Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government's decision to give Alberta $30 million to remediate orphan wells is good news for the province.

The one-time funding was contained within the federal budget released Wednesday in Ottawa.

"This is money we have been strongly advocating for over the past few weeks and months," Notley said.

"We will leverage this money to aim more resources at putting Albertans back to work and reclaiming orphan wells." ************************************************************************The Liberals were too smart to directly stipulate this money for the industry and so it was Notley's decision to betray the public interest in this way. Way to go Ms. Notley!https://thetyee.ca/.../03/22/Budget-Cheque-Alberta-Resource/ The federal Liberals are handing Alberta a one-time cheque for $30 million — apparently with few strings attached.

Tucked away in sections with a focus on energy, the 2017-18 federal budget includes two brief paragraphs on the payment, which is apparently meant to help Edmonton “stimulate economic activity and employment in Alberta’s resource sector.”

Senior public servants weren’t able to provide any additional information on the payment or say whether it is being sent with any conditions during a media lock-up for the budget Wednesday.


Premier Rachel Notley says the federal government’s…
CBC.CA

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