Daily Archives: September 15, 2008

Will Canada’s oil boom be an environmental bust? The new global wasteland?


Alberta the new oil wasteland

Alberta the new oil wasteland

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta (AP) — The largest dump truck in the world is parked under a massive mechanical shovel waiting to transport 400 tons of oily sand at an open pit mine in the northern reaches of Alberta. Each Caterpillar 797B heavy hauler — three-stories high, with tires twice as tall as the average man — carries the equivalent of 200 barrels.

Shell, which has 35 of the massive loaders working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has ordered 16 more — at $5 million each — as it expands its open pit mines. And it is not alone among major oil companies rushing to exploit Alberta’s oil sands, which make Canada one of the few countries that can significantly ramp up oil production amid the decline in conventional reserves.

Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Canada’s Imperial and other companies plan to strip an area here the size of New York state that could yield as much as 175 billion barrels of oil. Daily production of 1.2 million barrels from the oil sands is expected to nearly triple to 3.5 million barrels in 2020. Overall, Alberta has more oil than Venezuela, Russia or Iran. Only Saudi Arabia has more.

High prices — a barrel reached almost $150 last month and is around $115 now — are fueling the province’s oil boom. Since it’s costly to extract oil from the sands, using the process on a widespread basis began to make sense only when crude prices started skyrocketing earlier this century.

But the enormous amount of energy and water needed in the extraction process has raised fears among scientists, environmentalists and officials in an aboriginal town 170 miles downstream from Fort McMurray. The critics say the growing operations by major oil companies will increase greenhouse gas emissions and threaten Alberta’s rivers and forests.

“Their projected rates of expansion are so fast that we don’t have a hope in hell of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. David Schindler, an environmental scientist at the University of Alberta.

Oil sands operations, including extraction and processing, are responsible for 4 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s expected to triple to 12 percent by 2020. Oil sand mining is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and is one reason it reneged on its Kyoto Protocol commitments. Experts say producing a barrel of oil from sands results in emissions three times greater than a conventional barrel of oil.

Worries about environmental damage have gotten enough attention that even the oil industry realizes it must tread softly on the issue. “Industry has to improve its environmental performance,” Brian Maynard, a vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said recently.

Questions about developing Alberta’s oil sands have seeped into the U.S. presidential campaign and the debate in Canada and the U.S. over keeping down the price of gasoline while still protecting the environment.

The Bush administration sees Alberta as a reliable source of energy that will help reduce reliance on Middle East oil. U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins said the oil sands will define the relationship between the two countries for the next 10 years.

“We are blessed by the fact that our friend and neighbor is also our number one supplier of foreign oil,” Wilkins told The Associated Press.

However, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s top energy adviser said oil sands emissions are “unacceptably high” and may run counter to Obama’s plan to shift the U.S. away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

“The amount of energy that you have to use to get that oil out of the ground is such that it actually creates a much greater impact on climate change, as well as using much more energy than even traditional petroleum,” Obama adviser Jason Grumet said.

Mining oil sands also was criticized by American mayors in a resolution adopted at their annual conference in June urging a ban on using oil sands-derived gasoline in municipal vehicles. They alleged the oil sands mines damage Canada’s boreal forest — boreal refers to the earth’s northern zone — and slows the transition to cleaner energy sources in the U.S.

John Baird, Canada’s environment minister, warned that Washington would lose energy security if it doesn’t take Alberta’s oil.

“If American mayors want to send their money to unstable, undemocratic countries in the Middle East instead of to Canada, that will be their call. If they want to pay a premium for Iranian, Saudi, Iraqi oil that will be their call,” Baird told the AP.

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Families torn by grief because of a drunk driver on the 403 going in the wrong direction. This madness must end!


This is why the laws must be changed. A life has been snubbed out because of a possible drunk driver. I am not sure how one can justify going in the wrong direction on a provincial highway? The way the laws stand he will probably get a “slap on the wrist”, if convicted in Ontario. I am not sure how anyone can condone these actions anymore. If any political leaders are listening, its time for the laws to change, now and protect the public against this serious and unforgiving offense.
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Several years ago, before he moved to Canada, met his wife and had two beautiful daughters, Herminio Del Valle was told in a dream not to drive.

So he never bought a car, thinking all the while he was preventing a horrible accident.

To get to work, he turned to long-time pal Pablo Guzman, who had also emigrated from the Dominican Republic and got Del Valle his job at a Burlington aluminum factory. A trusted employee, Guzman was given the keys to the factory to open the shop early each morning.

That’s how the two men found themselves on Hwy. 403 in Mississauga around 4:45 a.m. Friday, when an allegedly drunk driver in a pickup truck going in the wrong direction hit their car head-on. “He was always driving people here and there,” Guzman’s friend, Patricia Moreno, said inside his Woodbridge home yesterday, Guzman’s crying wife, Rocio, and three children sitting next to her.

“Especially widows. He was always helping them,” she said, her voice drowned out by sobs. “Now, she’s a widow.” About 15 km south in North York, Del Valle’s widow, Carmen, sat with daughters Catherine, 9, and Natalie, 7, surrounded by family who had flown in from the U.S.

“Everything was for his family,” a shattered Carmen said in Spanish with a family member translating. Carmen had arrived at the Guzman home hours after the crash Friday with condolences, only to learn her husband was also dead.

“My dad was the best daddy,” Catherine said, tears rolling down her cheeks. “He used to try to get me the stuff that I need.”

Each of Guzman’s children — Victor, 8, Gleny, 6, and Santiago, 4 — have been coping in different ways.

“Where’s daddy?” Victor asked Moreno yesterday. “Heaven,” she said.

“I want to go to the CN tower to be closer to daddy,” he replied.

Gleny was found in her closet Saturday, holding a dress her dad had just bought for her.

Santiago clutched a toy truck in his hand while he sat on his mother’s lap.

“He knows it was a truck,” Moreno said. “So he says that truck killed his dad.”

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Lehman Files for Biggest Bankruptcy in American History, rumors of warnings with AIG and Citibank and the coming market meltdown


Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, succumbed to the subprime mortgage crisis it helped create in the biggest bankruptcy filing in history.

The 158-year-old firm, which survived railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression in the 1930s and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management a decade ago, filed a Chapter 11 petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan today. The collapse of Lehman, which listed more than $613 billion of debt, dwarfs WorldCom Inc.’s insolvency in 2002 and Drexel Burnham Lambert’s failure in 1990.

Lehman was forced into bankruptcy after Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp. abandoned takeover talks yesterday and the company lost 94 percent of its market value this year. Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld, who turned the New York-based firm into the biggest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities at the top of the U.S. real estate market, joins his counterparts at Bear Stearns Cos., Merrill Lynch & Co. and more than 10 banks that couldn’t survive this year’s credit crunch.

“There is likely to be a domino effect as other firms and individuals who relied on Lehman for financing feel the effects of its meltdown,” said Charles “Chuck” Tatelbaum, a bankruptcy lawyer with Lauderdale, Florida-based Adorno & Yoss and former editor of the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal. “The whole thing is frankly frightening for the U.S. economy.”
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Microsoft: It’s time to consummate the marriage with Citrix


Is it time for a shotgun wedding between Microsoft and Citrix? The relationship between Microsoft and Citrix is much like that of a man who has been serially dating the same woman for 15 years, but never seems to be able to consummate the deal. He’s afraid of commitment, or perhaps like that old expression goes, why would he buy the cow when he can have the milk for free?

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