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Tide turning for Canadian oil industry despite remaining challenges

With oil prices and production both on the rise, Canada's oil industry is expected to return to profitability. However, constrained pipeline capacity and limited capability to expand export markets are jeopardizing Canada's competitiveness as an oil producer, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Industrial Outlook: Oil Extraction. 

"The industry has managed to turn the tide on the downturn it has been experiencing since 2014, but the landscape is changing rapidly," said Michael Burt, Director, Industrial Economic Trends, The Conference Board of Canada. "New pipelines that provide access to tidewater will be crucial for Canada to develop new export markets given that Canada's biggest export market for oil, the United States, is ramping up its own production." 

Highlights of the report include:

  • Following three years of losses, Canada's oil industry will be back in the black, with pre-tax profits are expected to reach $1.4 billion this year. 
  • Global demand for crude is estimated to remain strong, increasing at an average rate of 1.62 million barrels per day (MMb/d) in 2018, compared with 1.60 MMb/d in 2017. 
  • Canada's oil companies have become more efficient and labour requirements have weakened. The industry is expected to create just 2,150 new jobs over the next five years.

Backed by solid economic growth, global demand for crude oil is projected to increase this year. Oil markets will remain mostly balanced, with supply projected to slightly outpace demand this year and acting as a ceiling for price increases. The report forecasts WTI to average US$59.20 over the rest of the year. Starting in 2019, however, prices are projected to rise again, along with investment and production. 

Total crude production in Canada is forecast to rise by an average annual rate of 3.4 per cent between 2018 and 2022. The vast majority of that increase will come from the oil sands, while offshore production and diluent production will make up the remainder. 

With prices and production both on the rise, industry revenues are forecast to increase by about 8 per cent in 2018. Costs will inevitably rise, as firms will require more materials and investments to sustain operations. However, employment gains will be modest, and efficiency and cost-containment remain at the forefront of the industry's priorities. This should allow the industry to be profitable this year, after suffering losses for three years in a row. Industry pre-tax profits are expected to reach $1.4 billion this year. 

However, bottlenecks in pipeline capacity and soaring shale oil production in the U.S. are eroding Canadian oil producers' competitiveness. As pipeline capacity in Western Canada cannot keep up with growing production, more oil has to be shipped by rail at a higher cost. This causes a price differential between Canadian oil prices and other global benchmarks, resulting in foregone profits for Canadian oil producers. Canada will also need to rely on new pipelines to expand into new export markets, which might soon become crucial given soaring U.S. oil production. 

Total crude production in the U.S. hit 10 MMb/d in November 2017 and is forecast to surpass 11 MMb/d sometime in 2018, making it the largest oil producer in the world. This has a series of implications for Canada. In the short run, the increased oil supply dampens the prospects for oil price growth. Canada is also competing with the U.S. for investment capital and limited pipeline capacity. In the long run, the U.S. will likely be less dependent on oil imports. 

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Finning announces leadership changes in Canada and internationally

Kevin Parkes

Finning International Inc. announced that Juan Carlos Villegas, President of Finning Canada and Chief Operating Officer of Finning International, will retire on December 31, 2018 following a distinguished career with the company. Kevin Parkes, currently Managing Director of Finning UK and Ireland, will assume the role of President of Finning Canada.  Assuming the role of Managing Director of Finning UK and Ireland will be David Primrose, currently Finning Canada's Executive Vice President of Core Industries. Kevin and David will assume their positions on January 1, 2019 and will report to Finning International's President and Chief Executive Officer, Scott Thomson.

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Pipelines

NEB clears Trans mountain to start expansion project construction between Edmonton and Kamloops

NEB clears Trans mountain to start expansion project construction between Edmonton and Kamloops

The National Energy Board (NEB) has released a condition compliance Letter Report that gives Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (Trans Mountain) NEB approval to start construction of its expansion project on Segments 1-4 (also referred to as Spreads), from the Edmonton Terminal to its Darfield Pump Station north of Kamloops in the B.C. Interior. 

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Line 3 Replacement growing the economy while protecting environment

Line 3 Replacement growing the economy while protecting environment

Canada is a place where the environment and the economy go hand in hand. Providing a stable, effective regulatory regime to approve and oversee pipeline operations is integral to safeguarding the environment, while supporting projects in the national interest that create good jobs, strengthen and grow the middle class and help get Canada's resources to world markets will deliver economic benefits for all Canadians. 

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Pipelines

Plains Midstream, SemCAMS hold open season for new Montney pipeline

Plains Midstream Canada ULC (PMC), a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., and SemCAMS ULC (SemCAMS), a subsidiary of SemGroup Corporation, announced that they have received sufficient customer interest to conduct an open season and are soliciting further producer engagement for a new Montney to Market liquids pipeline to service production from the Wapiti and potentially the Pipestone area in West Central Alberta to PMC's terminal infrastructure in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, AB.

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Instrumentation, Systems & Automation

Tilt sensors designed for operation in hazardous environments

SignalFire Wireless Telemetry's Tilt Scout for angle measurement is now Class 1, Division 1 approved for operation in hazardous environments.  The latest member of the Scout family of Class 1, Division 1 integrated sensor nodes, the Tilt Scout combines an intrinsically safe wireless inclinometer with a 900mHz radio and antenna and an internal battery pack within a NEMA4X enclosure. The three-axis sensor detects the change in angle (movement) of an asset such as tank hatch position as part of a SignalFire Wireless Telemetry System. Designed for use in outdoor industrial applications, the Tilt Scout is also ideal for monitoring pump jack motion.

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Signal conditioner offers intuitive setup for LVDTs

Signal conditioner offers intuitive setup for LVDTs

NewTek Sensor Solutions introduces the NT-C-6000 Quik-Cal LVDT Signal Conditioner that offers an intuitive AC LVDT set-up for quick configuration by non-technical personnel. Workers can set zero and full scale output using front panel push buttons while LED indicators provide prompts for the calibration process. Color-coded plug-in screw terminals further simplify equipment set-up. These smart signal conditioners even self-diagnose and indicate LVDT failure while providing cybersecurity lockout and tamper detection.

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Ritchie Bros. shows strong second quarter results

Ritchie Bros. shows strong second quarter results

Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated reported the following results for the three months ended June 30, 2018 (All figures are presented in U.S. dollars): Net income attributable to stockholders of $45.7 million improved 159% compared to $17.6 million for the same quarter in 2017. Diluted earnings per share ("EPS") attributable to stockholders increased 163% to $0.42 versus $0.16 in the second quarter of 2017, while diluted adjusted EPS attributable to stockholders1 (non-GAAP measure) increased 27% to $0.42 from $0.33 in the same respective period. 

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Instrumentation, Systems & Automation

Bacharach introduces updates to PCA 400 combustion and emissions analyzer

Bacharach, Inc., a provider of HVAC-R gas instrumentation, combustion analysis and energy management solutions, announces key product upgrades to the PCA 400 combustion and emissions analyzer platform including sensor protection, Low NOx measurement, near-field communications (NFC) and the ability to connect/control the analyzer with the newly released mobile app.

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Cenovus to sell Pipestone business for $625 million

Cenovus to sell Pipestone business for $625 million

Cenovus Energy Inc. and one of its subsidiaries have entered into an agreement to sell the general partnership that holds the Pipestone and Wembley natural gas and liquids business in northwestern Alberta (the "Pipestone Business") for cash proceeds of $625 million. The transaction also includes the Pipestone Business's 39% operated working interest in the Wembley gas plant. The sale is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions.

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NEB white paper addresses pipeline fittings

NEB white paper addresses pipeline fittings

The National Energy Board (NEB) has published its Recommendations to Improve Quality Assurance of Quenched and Tempered Fittings white paper. The report provides recommendations for enhanced quality assurance of integral components of Canada's transmission pipeline systems - quenched and tempered fittings. There are thousands of fittings (elbows, tees and reducers) on NEB-regulated pipeline systems, whose proper and traceable manufacturing, distribution and procurement helps ensure the safe operation of more than 73,000 km of pipeline currently under NEB jurisdiction. 

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Chevrolet takes on towing with new Silverado 1500 features

The all-new 2019 Silverado 1500 will introduce four levels of towing features to provide customers more confidence, better visibility, easier hitching and improved connectivity between the truck and trailer.

The all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will introduce several levels of towing features to improve customers' trailering experiences — all light-duty Silverado models have myChevrolet mobile app trailering capability and customers can add the Advanced Trailering System, which includes access to the system in-vehicle.

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Calima completes mergers in the Montney

Calima Energy Limited advises that following the successful completion of the takeovers of TSV Montney Ltd. and TMK Montney Ltd., the company will own a 100% working interest in 72,000 acres of drilling rights in British Columbia considered to be prospective for the Montney Formation. As a result, the Farm-in Agreement between the Company and TSVM and TMKM has become redundant and the agreement will be concluded.

As advised on 1 May 2018, the purpose of the takeover transaction was to consolidate ownership of the Montney Project, with the key benefits including, but not limited to:
  • Consolidation of a 100% interest in a single entity is likely to attract greater market interest;
  • The enhanced structure will likely provide improved access to capital to fund the forward work program and removes any risk associated with TSVM and/or TMKM funding its share of development costs;
  • Removes any potential impediments or misalignment of separate JV interests; and
  • Additional synergies include the removal of duplicated technical and administrative costs.

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Corporate responsibility report for 2017 released by Cenovus

Corporate responsibility report for 2017 released by Cenovus

Cenovus Energy Inc. has published its 2017 corporate responsibility report detailing the company's efforts to accelerate its environmental performance, protect the health and safety of its staff, invest in and engage with the communities where it operates and maintain the highest standards of corporate governance.

Highlights for 2017 included:
  • Achieving the company's lowest ever total recordable injury frequency (TRIF) of 0.36
  • Awarding 33 scholarships valued at $3,500 each for Aboriginal students pursuing a full-time degree, diploma or certified trade
  • Donating over $10 million to more than 1,000 local community organizations with a focus on supporting youth, strong families and safe communities
  • Raising nearly $1.5 million for more than 500 charitable organizations through our annual Thanks & Giving employee donation campaign
  • Spending $240 million doing business with local Aboriginal-owned companies or joint ventures and surpassing $2.4 billion in Aboriginal business spending since the company's launch in 2009  
  • Publishing Cenovus's Carbon Disclosure: Managing climate-related risks. The report features Cenovus's perspective on the transition to a lower-carbon future, carbon pricing and the ways that the company is managing and mitigating climate-related risks.   

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