Carbon Tax Arguments Over; Now Waiting For The Decision

Arguments are over in a Regina courtroom, and now the decision on the future of a federally imposed carbon tax is in the hands of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals.

The judges heard arguments from the provincial government and concerned parties intervening on their behalf on Wednesday, and Thursday it was the chance for the federal government to present their case.

The province is challenging the carbon tax on grounds it is unconstitutional.

“We think the proper position for our province to take is not to have a carbon tax that singles out our province,” said Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan. “We think the right thing to do would be to sit down and work with all of the provinces and develop good alternatives to reduce carbon emissions.”

The judges hearing the case have reserved their decision. Many are hoping they deliver the decision by April when the carbon tax would take effect. However, it could take up to six months or a year before the decision is finalized.


SOURCE: Steven Wilson, DiscoverWeyburn.com

Stoughton Area Generates Top Dollar per Hectare in Latest Crown Land Sales

Crown petroleum and natural gas rights sales raised a total of $10.2 million dollars for the province in February.

Two parcels consisting of 64.7 hectares each generated the top dollars per hectare in this public offering; located northeast of Stoughton, they were purchased by Synergy Land Services Ltd. for roughly $3,200 per hectare and are prospective for oil in the Bakken Formation. The average price per hectare was $596 for this period, up from $316 in 2017-18.

Two exploration licences in the Estevan area were purchased for over $900,000. One licence, worth nearly $850,000, was located northeast of Estevan, and purchased by BASM Land & Resources Ltd. The other exploration licence, north of Gainsborough, was purchased by Burgess Creek Exploration Inc. for $60,389.09.  

This was the sixth and final offering of the 2018-19 fiscal year, bringing the cumulative total to $57.5 million.

Kindersley Attracts Strength and Support for Ag and Oil Industry

Hundreds of people braved the cold and filled the stands at the West Central Events Centre to show their support for the agriculture and oil sectors and hear from political figures and experts on Bill C-69, during the Ag and Oil Forum.

The speakers included MLA for Kindersley, Ken Francis; spokesperson for actioncanada.ca, James Robson; Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP, David Anderson; founder and director of Suits and Boots, Rick Peterson; and the keynote speaker, researcher and writer, Vivian Krause.

Krause who is originally from Vancouver and made the trip for the event, delivered a compelling presentation. She depicted the money-trail that has, from her research, funded the 10 year campaign aimed at de-marketing Canada’s energy industry labelled, Tar Sands Campaign.

Her evidence reveals the millions of dollars of investments from American foundations that she believes deliberately and systematically land-lock Canadian oil, in a calculated effort to drive investors away from Canadian oil and ensure the lowest price per barrel for American buyers.

The findings Krause presented is the result of a decade of research with new details emerging as she continues to look for answers to the questions that are plaguing the energy sector. She used the word monopoly to describe the current issues surrounding Canadian oil, as in, the lengths the United States has gone and will continue to go, to ensure they have a monopoly on Canadian oil.

Peterson in conjunction with Robson gave the attendees clear action steps to have their voices heard on the matter. Robson works closely with debunking popular myths that have seemingly demonized the oil sands and labelled them as, dirty oil.

Peterson stated the next 90 days are the most crucial, as Bill C-69’s fate currently sits in the hands of the Senate. He boastfully encouraged attendees to call the Senators, who will be deciding where they travel within Canada to hear from the citizens regarding thoughts and concerns surrounding the bill, and urged residents to rally for Kindersley to be on the itinerary.

Anderson, who has been passionate in his opposition of the bill, outlined the effects the bill would have not only on the oil and agriculture industry but in every industry and sector as the trickle-down effect is inevitable.

Francis who was the opening speaker, shared that his attendance was a no-brainer. He discussed how vital both oil and agriculture is to our region and his intentions are clear on the matter, in the best interest of residents of Saskatchewan and Canadians, the bill must be stopped.

The consensus from all speakers was that it is a time to be proud of, and fight for, the resources that are not only vital to Saskatchewan and Alberta, but to the country as a whole.

More information regarding the speakers and their efforts can be found through the following links:
Vivian Krause – Rethink Campaigns
Rick Peterson – suitsandboots.ca
James Robson – canadaaction.ca
David Anderson – davidanderson.ca
Ken Francis – Facebook/KenFrancisSaskatchewanMLA

Saskatchewan's Response to Supreme Court Ruling on Abandoned Oil Wells

The Saskatchewan government is backing a recent Supreme Court ruling which prohibits oil companies from abandoning their environmental responsibilities in the event of bankruptcy or insolvency.

After an Alberta based energy company attempted to walk away from inactive wells following insolvency, recent court proceedings established that environmental regulations are to be the responsibility of the oil company in question. Doug MacKnight, Assistant Deputy Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas with the Ministry of Energy and Resources, stated that given the alternative course of action in regards to orphaned wells, this is a good decision.

In Saskatchewan, when a well is abandoned, the clean up and environmental responsibilities are in the hands of the Orphan Fund Procurement Program through the provincial government and funded by a levy within the oil and gas industry. MacKnight said in the current fiscal year, the number of orphaned wells rang in at approximately 249, which is slightly higher than previous years but still manageable through the program.

The cost to properly decommission an orphan well can range from $50,000 all the way to $1 million, with last year’s provincial budget partitioning $4 million for the Orphan Fund Procurement Program.

MacKnight explained the decision by the Supreme Court may have saved the consumer-paid levy from rising. If oil companies were able to walk-away from inactive wells and the Orphan Fund Procurement Program saw an increase, that would be reflected back in the levy which would ultimately come out of theSa pocket of the consumer.

The ruling now gives companies clear and concise rules and regulations moving forward and MacKnight added that it was a decision that had the support of many in the industry, including oil companies.

Methane Emissions In Flaring And Venting Targeted In New Plan

Over the next few years, the Saskatchewan government is targeting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

The ministry is working on a plan to remove 4.5 million tonnes of methane gas due to venting and flaring by 2025.

“To us ... it just makes common sense,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Energy and Resources, Bronwyn Eyre. “We’ve got about 20 percent of natural gas being wasted in Saskatchewan by flaring and venting by producers.”

Consultation was done by the province with members of the industry, which included Crescent Point Energy, Canadian Natural Resource Limited, Whitecap Resources, Inc. and Husky Energy, among others.

The province isn’t sure if this will meet the federal plan for reduction of greenhouse gases.

“We feel pretty confident that our plan will be accepted, and we certainly hope it will,” Eyre said. “It’s results-based and we think it will result is real and measurable emissions rather than theoretical presumed reductions based on models and assumptions, and it’s about flexibility.”

Companies can make investment decisions for all their production facilities, she said.

The consultation with the industry was extensive.

“They certainly are telling us they prefer our plan to the federal plan,” Eyre said of industry. “We feel that has, we hope, traction as well, and certainly it should mean something when members of the sector are on board.”

Part of the government’s plan is to invest in expanding the infrastructure and introduce an expanded oil and gas processing investment incentive and expanded Saskatchewan innovation incentive, which would be a royalty credit system within the oil and gas industry

“We feel it’s necessary to have something infrastructurally incentivizing that goes hand in hand with these goals,” Eyre said.

SOURCE: Corey Atkinson, DiscoverEstevan.com

Latest Numbers from December's Public Offering Released

The latest numbers are in for December's public offering of crown petroleum and natural gas rights generating $20.1 million for the province.

While most of the attention was placed in the Wilkie and St Walberg area, 5,473.394 hectares of petroleum and Natural gas and 2,800.373 hectares of petroleum natural gas lease were available in the Weyburn-Estevan area totalling $3,083,599.39 of revenue.

“Saskatchewan continues to be an attractive destination for investment by the oil and gas industry,” Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said. “Our competitive policies and incentives, designed in collaboration with industry, encourage sustainable activity, job growth, and good resource management.”

The highest bid for a 5,568.500 hectare parcel of land east of Wilkie purchased by BASM Land & Resources Ltd for $9,126,103.28.

The final offering for the fiscal year will be held on February 5, 2019.

Province Committed To Health and Safety In Response to Sour Gas Report

A study done by researchers from Harvard and Northeastern University showed air quality indicators were reporting off the chart levels of H2S gas in southeastern Saskatchewan, and there was no action taken by the provincial government. The readings were gathered by the researchers who were working with a collaboration of journalists from various outlets across Canada, and the University of Regina.

The reports and findings presented by the group showed the provincial air quality standards had been breached multiple times since 2014, and no action was taken by the provincial government in response. This includes penalties for companies who are responsible for the emissions.

In a written reply to Discover Weyburn’s questions about the report and the province’s response, the Ministry of Energy and Resources didn’t directly provide a response when asked about the government’s reaction or position to the report. The reply did highlight the province has made a number of steps to strengthen oversight of sour gas management, including increasing inspections, collection gas composition data, increasing staffing levels and funding of air monitoring stations.

H2S is also known as sour gas or hydrogen sulphide. It is a colourless, poisonous gas which is found commonly around crude oil and natural gas production sites. It can be fatal when inhaled. The report presented last week in the media indicated high levels of the gas were found in many areas, which does provide an immediate health risk to some residents of southeastern Saskatchewan.

The statement from the province indicated there had been no need to issue any notices to residents of the air quality reaching critical levels, as the regional air quality levels didn’t reach the point where they would pose a risk to public health and safety. They did state they took action where there were high levels of the gas, and followed up on public complaints related to odours of the gas.

In order to operate a well or facility in Saskatchewan, a company needs to have an emergency response plan in place, which puts the onus on the operator to take steps to notify those at risk of an incident, and to protect safety in the immediate area of the incident, including contacting the Ministry of Energy and Resources when there is an uncontrolled release of sour gas.

While the report from the researchers last week stated there were cases of levels of the gasses high enough to cause corrosion to various items, there were no incident reports available from the individual companies according to the researchers. The province, which monitors incidents to make sure they are dealt with by the operator, said there has been no need for prosecution under The Oil and Gas Conservation Act for failure to follow the reporting procedures. There was no clarification if any companies had their licenses suspended for not following procedure.

In their statement to Discover Weyburn, the government highlighted the regulatory staff respond to all sour gas complaints on a 24/7 basis, and the cases are investigated and corrective actions ordered when necessary, with a commitment to keeping public safety as the number one priority.

No officials from the Ministry of Energy and Resources were available for an interview to clarify or elaborate on any of the responses received in the written statement.

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