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Alberta

World’s largest civilian transport aircraft lifts Red Deer Company to India to battle nightmare well blowout

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Piston Well Services Inc. has been hired to take on a fire that’s been burning for months.

Report from Northeast Today

The world’s largest Civilian transport aircraft ANTONOV (AN124) which has been commissioned for snubbing operation in Baghjan-well number 5 landed at Kolkata airport on Wednesday night from where it will make a 14- day long road journey to reach Baghjan in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Reportedly, as both the Guwahati and Dibrugarh airport runways are not able to handle the massive Ukrainian ANTONOV (AN124) aircraft, it had to be landed in Kolkata.

As per reports, the 59,000 kgs equipment boarded the An124 heavy-lift aircraft – the world’s largest cargo carrier from Russia. The aircraft is used all over the world for its long haul cargo dropping.

According to the OIL sources, the aircraft was commissioned by Piston Well Service Inc of Canada which was hired by Alert Disaster Control, Singapore. The Alert has been commissioned by OIL for killing the Baghjan-5 well, which was burning since May 27 of this year.

According to the spokesperson of Oil India Limited (OIL) Tridiv Hazarika, the snubbing operation is expected to commence by the beginning of next week and the fire is expected to be snubbed by the first week of November ending months of misery of the people of Baghja

Earlier, the general manager of the company Ross Whelan informed the same through a facebook post saying that a crew had arrived and was ready to board a heavy-lift aircraft from Canada’s Calgary.

“Our crew has arrived, and 59,000kg of our equipment boarded the An124 heavy-lift aircraft in Calgary today,” he said.

On May 27 this year, a blowout occurred in the Baghjan Oil Well, this was followed by an inferno on June 9, after the well suddenly became active while OIL was carrying out workover operations in the gas-producing well under Baghjan Oilfield. OIL lost three men including two firefighters and a young engineer.

Read the whole story including photos of the Antonov at this link

Tinsukia: An aerial view of the Baghjan oil field engulfed in fire, in Tisukia, Assam, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. The field has been leaking gas for the past two weeks. (PTI Photo) (PTI10-06-2020_000035B)

From Ross Whelan, GM of Piston Well Services Inc. in Red Deer.

Piston Well Services Inc. of Alberta is proud to announce the award of a contract to conduct emergency snubbing services for Alert Disaster Control of Singapore on the Baghjan Well #5 blowout in Assam, India.  The scope of work includes mobilizing a crew and snubbing unit with support equipment to facilitate killing, plugging and abandoning the well which blew out on May 27, 2020 and exploded in a remote wetland causing a major human and ecological disaster.

The well is currently capped, and uncontrolled flow is temporarily diverted as wellhead integrity issues caused by the blowout and subsequent fire are preventing the use of traditional well shut-in and kill methods.  A proposed snubbing procedure was confirmed with computer modeling and ordered by the well owner.

Piston’s team engaged to overcome a litany of logistical issues but it’s an honour to deploy our Canadian know-how to bring an unfortunate event to a safe conclusion.

Piston is a snubbing, completions & workover company based in Red Deer, AB, established in 1999 by the industry’s pioneers and continues to serve the Western Canadian Basin with a fleet of proprietary high pressure snubbing units.

Here’s a time-lapse from Piston Well Services Inc. showing the process of loading Rig 6.

 

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Alberta

‘Dealing with a lot:’ Suicide crisis calls mount during COVID-19 pandemic

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CALGARY — Hannah Storrs has needed to take more breaks than usual during her shifts on a 24-hour crisis line as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies the struggles of those reaching out for help. 

Distress Centre Calgary says suicide-related calls, texts and chats were up 66 per cent in October compared with the same month in 2019.

Of the more than 4,800 interactions last month, nearly one-quarter dealt with suicide. That could mean someone contemplating ending his or her life or an attempt in progress. 

“We’re seeing it more back-to-back rather than the odd one here and there that is more intense,” says Storrs, the centre’s crisis team lead.

“People are dealing with a lot right now. They’re dealing with isolation. They’re dealing with mental health issues. They’re dealing with financial issues on top of being just scared of what can happen in the world.”

Storrs says calls, where there is an imminent risk, are in the minority and emergency services are only called in rare cases. Most often she and her colleagues help people develop a plan that will get them through the moment. 

The work is more emotionally draining now than it was before the pandemic, she says. She makes sure to take breaks to calm herself after tough calls — something the centre encourages along with extra debriefing time. 

“We can’t help other people if we’re not helping ourselves first, especially being on the lines.”

She says she didn’t realize it was taking a toll until she found herself feeling frustrated and ruminating about calls after work, wondering what more she could have done to help. 

It has also been physically exhausting.

“Honestly, after a shift, I would just have to go take a nap. I’d be tired.”

Diane Jones Konihowski, the distress centre’s director of fund development and communications, says suicide-related calls were also rising over the summer, which was a concern because it was still nice outside.

“We assume that those numbers and percentages are going to go up as we get into — 20 C, we get into the ice and snow, where people are really not going out as much as they normally do.”

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service, a national network of crisis lines, says there’s been a 200 per cent increase in calls and texts between October 2019 and the same month this year.

People in crisis call a centralized line, which routes them to a distress centre in their community.

While volumes have gone up, there has not been a parallel rise in “active rescues” that require emergency intervention, says Dr. Allison Crawford, the service’s chief medical officer.

The service has added backup responders to deal with the surge, added Crawford, who is also a psychiatrist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. 

Between 15 and 20 per cent of those reaching out during the pandemic have mentioned COVID-19, though the service doesn’t keep track of more specific virus-related contacts. 

Crawford says that is likely to mirror the results of a series of surveys the Toronto-based centre and technology company Delvinia have done throughout the pandemic. 

The most recent one with more than 1,000 respondents in September found about one-fifth were experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, loneliness and depression. 

Eighteen per cent said they were very worried about their finances and 26 per cent said they were very worried about contracting COVID-19, or someone close to them getting sick. 

Research has shown that historically there’s a link between economic downturns and increased suicides, Crawford says.

But it’s too soon to know the toll the pandemic and its associated economic strife have taken. 

“We know that we’re seeing this increase in calls. We don’t yet know whether we’re experiencing an increase in actual completed suicides. There’s no evidence to this point to suggest that.”

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: Online crisisservicescanada.ca. Phone 1-833 456-4566. Text — 45645 (4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET)

Distress Centre Calgary: Online distresscentre.com. Phone 403-266-HELP (4357)

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

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta strikes team to roll out COVID-19 vaccine in three phases starting in January

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EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta expects to start getting COVID-19 vaccines in the first week of January, and high-risk patients and health workers will get them first.

Kenney says the province has struck an inter-departmental team to roll out the vaccines from 30 different locations.

“Alberta is well prepared to receive, distribute and administer a vaccine as soon as doses arrive,” Kenney told reporters Wednesday.

“This is evidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we can see this critical juncture when we will get past the terrible damage that COVID-19 has caused for our society.”

Alberta continues to lead Canada in per-capita rates of COVID-19, with 1,685 new cases announced Wednesday for a total active count of 17,144 infections.

There are 504 people in hospital, with 97 of them in intensive care. There were also 10 more deaths. In total, 561 Albertans have died from the virus.

The health system is working to free up more ICU beds and, in an unusual step, COVID-19 patients are being double-bunked rather than being kept in isolation at Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital.

Kenney said the vaccine group will be headed by senior civil servant Paul Wynnyk to plan the rollout.

“We have been assured by the federal government that shipments will begin to arrive by Jan. 4 and continue to arrive in waves throughout the early part of next year,” said Kenney.

The doses are to be distributed at 30 depots across the province. Kenney said the Moderna one needs to be kept cold and the Pfizer version needs to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, so special freezers and transports are being ordered.

Both vaccines, he said, need to be administered in two doses three to six weeks apart.

Officials expect to vaccinate 435,000 Albertans, or about 10 per cent of the population, in the first few months of 2021, with a focus on long-term and other care residents as well as health-care workers.

The second phase would run in late spring and aim to have one-third of the rest of the population immunized. Wynnyk’s team would determine the priority recipients in this phase.

The final phase, when the rest of Albertans get vaccinated, is pegged to begin next summer.

“That means it will be months before vaccine is available to the general population,” said Kenney.

“This is the unfortunate reality.

“Obviously the risk of hospitalizations and COVID-19 fatalities will decline significantly once we’re able to vaccinate the most vulnerable.

“But let’s be clear: all of us will have to continue following public-health guidelines even after the first wave of vaccinations have occurred.”

Albertans are currently banned from having extended gatherings in homes beyond those who live under the same roof. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.

There is also a range of health restrictions for everything from places of worship to schools, businesses, retailers, bars and restaurants aimed at keeping as much of the economy open as possible while bending the curve on the pandemic.

Critics, including the Opposition NDP and some physicians and infectious disease specialists, say skyrocketing case numbers show the restrictions are not enough and the long-term health of both people and the economy is at risk.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro confirmed media reports that the province has asked the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government for field hospitals to help with the case surge.

Shandro said the request is part of long-term and prudent contingency planning.

“This (tent scenario) is not something that’s in our current plans to increase our acute-care bed capacity,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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