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Alberta

Big boost for energy companies working on emission reduction innovations

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15 minute read

From the Province of Alberta

In October 2019, Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) launched the Natural Gas Challenge and invited technology developers to share project concepts for innovation opportunities in Alberta’s natural gas industry.

Alberta’s government is providing $58 million through ERA to support this opportunity to create jobs in the natural gas sector.

Funding recipients include a project that uses artificial intelligence to locate and measure methane emissions, and a project to produce renewable natural gas from biogas at an agricultural facility that will be the first of its kind in Alberta.

The 20 new projects have the potential to reduce a cumulative one million tonnes of emissions by 2030 – the same as taking about 750,000 cars off Alberta’s roads. These projects will also get Albertans back to work by creating more than 750 new jobs when they are needed most.

“Alberta is already a leader when it comes to our environmental footprint, and our ongoing work with Emissions Reduction Alberta will help us become even better.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

Projects were selected through ERA’s competitive review process. Experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification reviewed 117 submissions and chose projects based on the strongest potential for success.

“With Alberta’s 300-year supply of affordable natural gas, a technically skilled workforce and world-class environmentally responsible facilities, there is tremendous opportunity for Alberta to compete with international markets. Funding opportunities like this, in partnership with Emissions Reduction Alberta, are critical to attracting investments that will grow Alberta’s economy by reducing upfront costs, while reducing our province’s share of global emissions.”

Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity

Government funds ERA through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system. TIER is an improved system to help energy-intensive facilities find innovative ways to reduce emissions and invest in clean technology to stay competitive and save money. Facilities can pay into a TIER Fund, which is used for innovative and cleaner Alberta-based projects like those selected under the Natural Gas Challenge.

ERA’s funding model requires that every dollar committed to an initiative is matched or exceeded by additional investments, which ensures there is a market demand for the technology. Government’s $58-million investment through ERA has been more than doubled by private and public investment to stimulate the economy, lower emissions and create jobs, leading to a total of $155 million in funding.

“Investing in the next wave of technological advancements will help Canada’s natural gas industry achieve new efficiencies, reduce costs, and continue to drive world-leading environmental performance.”

Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

A complete list of the successful Natural Gas Challenge projects can be found here.

“We are grateful for ERA’s support to help fund Canadian Natural’s ALT-FEMP project. By working together, we will develop and pilot technologies that can be adopted across the industry to enable early detection of methane emissions through cost-effective methods, ultimately accelerating industry’s reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Joy Romero, vice-president of technology and innovation, Canadian Natural Resources Limited

“This project is an important first step for Alberta, which has all the ingredients to be a leader in the hydrogen economy – including the ability to produce a near zero-emission hydrogen at a lower cost than most jurisdictions in the world.”

George Lidgett, executive vice-president and general manager, Canadian Utilities Inc.

Quick facts

  • In 2018, Alberta produced almost 70 per cent of the marketable natural gas in Canada.
  • ERA works with government, industry and innovators to support technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Since 2009, ERA has committed $607 million in funds from industrial carbon pricing toward 183 projects worth $4.1 billion that are reducing emissions, keeping industries competitive, and leading to new investment opportunities.
  • These 183 projects are estimated to deliver cumulative reductions of 34.8 million tonnes of emissions by 2030.

If successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of almost one million tonnes of CO2e by 2030—equivalent to the GHG emissions from 750,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year. It is anticipated these projects will also deliver approximately 760 new jobs.

Funding is being sourced from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters in Alberta through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.

The following projects were selected for funding:

UPSTREAM PROJECTS:

MultiSensor Canada Inc.
Methane Imaging Solution for Continuous Leak Detection and Quantification for Tank Emissions and Facility Monitoring
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000
Permanent installation and demonstration of an infrared camera at 100 well sites to provide continuous leak detection and quantification for tank emissions and facility monitoring.

Qube Technologies
Emissions Reductions Through Artificial Intelligence
Total project value: $16,200,000 | ERA commitment: $4,000,000
Deployment of an industrial device designed to collect large quantities of data to use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to better quantify, locate, and classify emissions.

University of Calgary:
Field-Scale Deployment and Acceleration of Made-In-Alberta Technology for Fugitive Emissions Detection and Reduction
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000
Full-scale, field pilot of a new vehicle-based technology designed for equipment-level emissions screening to support effective regulatory leak detection and repair.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Fugitive Emissions Study Using Aerial Detection Technology
Total project value: $1,900,000 | ERA commitment: $930,000
Pilot project of both aerial screening technology and ground-based detection at conventional oil and gas facilities to validate technology performance and inform a broader Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (FEMP).

Challenger Technical Services
Multi Component Downhole Injection System
Total project value: $2,600,000 | ERA commitment: $1,000,000
Development, testing, and validation of a multicomponent downhole injection system that uses epoxy resins to rapidly seal leaking oil and gas wells and eliminate surface casing vent flow.

Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC)
Affordable Zero-Emission Fail-Safe Electric Dump Valve Actuator (EDVA) Phase 2
Total project value: $2,200,000| ERA commitment: $550,000
Applied research, prototype design and development, and field pilot testing of an electrically-driven valve actuator that is more compact, powerful, and lower maintenance than alternative pneumatic options.

Kinitics Automation Limited
Valve Actuator for Gas Producers
Total project value: $1,100,000 | ERA commitment: $550,000
Testing a novel electric actuator at 15 well sites in Alberta to validate the technology as a cost effective, technically viable alternative to eliminate venting from established pneumatic devices.

Westgen Technologies Inc
Unlocking EPOD Economic Zero Bleed Pneumatic Instrument Air Retrofit Solution
Total project value: $4,000,000 | ERA commitment: $1,300,000
Demonstration of a solar-hybrid power generation system for remote well sites to provide reliable electricity to prevent gas venting from pneumatic devices in a cost-effective manner.

Modern Wellbore Solutions
Demonstration of a Full-Scale Multilateral Junction Assembly
Total project value: $12,100,000 | ERA commitment: $3,500,000
Full-scale deployment of a multilateral junction tool assembly that will allow natural gas operators to drill, complete, and operate multi-branched wells for unconventional reservoirs. The technology reduces emissions by enabling lateral junctions rather than requiring separate wells.

Tourmaline Oil Corp.
Natural Gas Mobile Unit for Drilling Rig Power Generation
Total project value: $8,000,000 | ERA commitment: $3,200,000
Pilot demonstration of a plug and play, mobile power generation system for drilling rigs that uses smart energy to automatically start and stop generators to match the power demand of the rig.

DOWNSTREAM AND VALUE-ADDED PROJECTS:

ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
Fort Saskatchewan Hydrogen Blending
Total project value: $5,700,000 | ERA commitment: $2,800,000
Pilot project to test hydrogen blending in ATCO’s Fort Saskatchewan natural gas distribution system. The project will source and test equipment and determine applicability of existing codes, standards, and legislation.

Ekona Power Inc.
Development and Field Testing of a Tri-Generation Pyrolysis (TGP) System for Low-cost, Clean Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $13,800,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Prototyping a new approach to converting natural gas to hydrogen and a solid carbon by-product representing a new pathway to produce zero-emissions hydrogen, electricity, and other products by decarbonizing natural gas.

Standing Wave Reformers Inc.
A New Wave in Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $8,200,000 | ERA commitment: $3,000,000
Design optimization, system integration, pilot demonstration, techno-economic analysis, and advancement of commercial deployment plans for a technology system to decarbonize natural gas.

ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
ATCO and Future Fuel RNG
Total project value: $15,900,000 | ERA commitment: $7,900,000
First-of-its-kind commercial demonstration to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) to be sold and used within the province in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet vehicles and commercial applications.

Sustainitech Inc.
Co-Locating Natural Gas and Indoor Agriculture for Alberta’s Future
Total project value: $17,900,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Design, construction, and operation for a first-of-kind commercial deployment of a modular farming system that combines automation, hydroponics, adsorption cooling, and advanced lighting to grow crops.

Enersion Inc.
Greenest Natural Gas-Powered Quad-generation with a 41% GHG Reduction
Total project value: $3,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000
Technology that uses natural gas to generate electricity, cooling, and heating in an integrated package for multiple applications, including industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential sectors

Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc.
Demonstration of Thermally Driven Heat Pumps for Residential Heating Applications
Total project value: $2,000,000 | ERA commitment: $990,000
Design and prototyping of technology that uses natural gas to drive a heat pump cycle. Unlike electrically-driven heat pumps, the technology is ideal for cold climates.

Anax Power
Turboexpander Project
Total project value: $6,200,000 | ERA commitment: $2,400,000
Installation and operation of technology that provides clean, distributed electricity from the pressure and flow of natural gas without combustion.

Innovative Fuel Systems
Advanced Dual-Fuel System Commercial Demonstration
Total project value: $2,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,200,000
Commercial validation of technology that allows heavy duty truck engines to displace up to 50 per cent of their diesel with cleaner burning natural gas.

Converting Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas
Total project value: $25,000,000 | ERA commitment: $10,000,000
The project will explore opportunities to upgrade landfill gas (LFG) at Clover Bar Landfill and inject it into Alberta’s natural gas system as renewable natural gas (RNG). Stakeholders in the Clover Bar Landfill, the City of Edmonton and Capital Power, are exploring these possible opportunities.

All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta. All projects involve field piloting, demonstration, or commercial deployment of technology within the province.

Click the links below for more details on ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge:

WHY TARGET THE NATURAL GAS VALUE CHAIN?
Natural gas is a critical resource, providing heat and power for Alberta’s residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. It is the least GHG emitting of traditional fossil fuels, and a global shift toward natural gas from coal- and oil‑based resources is underway.

Canada is the fourth largest natural gas producer in the world, with net exports totaling $6.1 billion in 2018. Alberta produces almost 70 per cent of the marketable natural gas in the country. In 2017, the province emitted 35 million tonnes of CO2e from natural gas production and processing. A significant opportunity exists to improve cost competitiveness along Alberta’s natural gas value chain and reduce GHG emissions.

The Government of Alberta is committed to revitalizing Alberta’s natural gas sector. The province is developing and implementing a robust strategy with key recommendations from the 2018 Roadmap to Recovery Report, a document advising the government on reviving Alberta’s natural gas industry.

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Alberta

More corporate meetings to go virtual after success during pandemic

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CALGARY — Any shareholder who’s ever endured hours of travel to attend a company’s annual meeting is in for good news in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts say the success of AGMs taken virtual this year will likely translate into more options for online and teleconference participation at future events — provided that some technical bugs can be ironed out and with the caveat that full shareholder participation is necessary.

Most corporations are required to meet once a year with their shareholders to deal with routine matters such as electing the board of directors, choosing an auditor and approving the minutes of the last meeting. There is typically a presentation on company accomplishments from the CEO, and shareholders usually have an opportunity to ask questions.

The pandemic’s eruption at the start of AGM season this year forced many companies to cancel their in-person events and figure out how to use technology for a virus-free meeting. The online migration was a scramble for most, as Canadian organizations have been much slower to adopt virtual meetings than their counterparts in the United States. Before this year, only a handful of Canadian companies had done so.

Nonetheless, most of the response to the virtual meetings has been positive, in part because shareholders recognize the unusual circumstances, said Kevin Thomas, CEO of the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), a Canadian not-for-profit advisory firm that often helps sponsor minority shareholder proposals to be voted on at AGMs.

“The challenge is that participation at some of these (virtual) meetings has been limited — the ability to ask questions has been limited by the company to either written questions in advance or sometimes no questions,” he said. “In some cases, the ability to log in has been quite complicated.”

He added the virtual events lack some intangible benefits to attending a meeting in person, such as being able to have informal chats with directors, company executives and fellow shareholders.

“I think there are some bugs to work out. But the potential for online meetings, if they allow for full shareholder participation, is actually probably positive.”

As of July 28, 583 AGMs had been held by companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, according to figures compiled by Hansell LLP of Toronto, a corporate advisory law firm. That’s down almost 22 per cent from the same time last year, as some companies took advantage of pandemic-related deadline extensions offered by regulators.

Hansell partner Susan Kushneryk said she expects more virtual AGMs will take place in the future for two reasons — people may be hesitant to attend crowded events even if the pandemic is under control and the convenience of being able to dial in or catch a meeting online has now been well demonstrated.

“If you’re invested in a company based in Calgary and you live in Kelowna (B.C.), now, if that company is having a virtual AGM, it may be you’re able to attend for the first time since you’ve held those shares,” she said.

“So there’s a real benefit there.”

Virtual AGMs in Canada and the U.S. were generally well operated and well-received by shareholders but there were also a few instances where technology failed or meeting organizers “turned off the mic” to stymie troublesome input, said Peter Kimball, head of North American advisory services for Maryland-based ISS Corporate Solutions.

“There are some high-profile examples of big companies’ (AGMs) that either shareholders had difficulty getting in or they had difficulty finishing what they wanted to say,” he said, adding investors remain “wary” of the use of the technology in future meetings.

In Canada, Hansell found 54 per cent of the meetings were virtual only, which means that shareholders could attend remotely by phone or computer but couldn’t vote or ask questions in real time. Votes were collected ahead of the meeting.

About a quarter — 26 per cent — were traditional physical AGMs, where shareholders could vote ahead of time or attend in person to vote or ask a question.

Thirteen per cent of the meetings were what it called “limited hybrid,” where participants could remotely ask questions but couldn’t vote. Just two per cent were the “full hybrid” model, where participants could vote and ask questions at the meeting, whether in person or remotely.

Technology itself was a barrier at times, Kimball said.

Some meetings had to be rescheduled because of “plumbing issues,” he said — the company providing the service didn’t have enough bandwidth to actually do the job, though that shortcoming likely could be addressed in future.

He added that activist shareholders who sponsor proposals on topics such as executive compensation or setting environmental targets are as split on the subject of remote meetings as the rest of the shareholders — some love them and some hate them.

Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. has allowed investors to participate in person and remotely in its annual general meetings since 2018 but its AGM in early May had to be made virtual format only because of restrictions on large public gatherings.

It has vowed to return to its full hybrid meeting format next year.

“Our total meeting attendance actually went up in 2020 compared to our hybrid (physical and in-person) meeting in 2019,” said spokeswoman Kathy du Plessis in an email, adding the feedback from shareholders has been positive.

“Excluding Barrick personnel, this year we had 152 attendees on the online portal compared to 100 in total in 2019, 42 people at the physical meeting and 58 people online.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2020.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Man dies after being found in North Saskatchewan River southwest of Edmonton

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EDMONTON — A 53-year old man has died after he was found in the North Saskatchewan River near Edmonton.

RCMP say officers responded to Devon Voyageur Park near the Highway 60 bridge southwest of Edmonton just before 4 p.m. Sunday.

Cpl. John Pike told CTV News that police received a call about a man who was floating in the river.

Police and firefighters used a boat to get the man out of the river and he was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

The man was declared dead in hospital.

Police say there’s no evidence of foul play in the man’s death and no further information will be provided.

(CTV Edmonton, The Canadian Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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august, 2020

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