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Alberta

Game changer: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion complete and starting to flow Canada’s oil to the world

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Workers complete the “golden weld” of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on April 11, 2024 in the Fraser Valley between Hope and Chilliwack, B.C. The project saw mechanical completion on April 30, 2024. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

‘We’re going to be moving into a market where buyers are going to be competing to buy Canadian oil’

It is a game changer for Canada that will have ripple effects around the world.  

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is now complete. And for the first time, global customers can access large volumes of Canadian oil, with the benefits flowing to Canada’s economy and Indigenous communities.  

“We’re going to be moving into a market where buyers are going to be competing to buy Canadian oil,” BMO Capital Markets director Randy Ollenberger said recently, adding this is expected to result in a better price for Canadian oil relative to other global benchmarks. 

The long-awaited expansion nearly triples capacity on the Trans Mountain system from Edmonton to the West Coast to approximately 890,000 barrels per day. Customers for the first shipments include refiners in China,  California and India, according to media reports.  

Shippers include all six members of the Pathways Alliance, a group of companies representing 95 per cent of oil sands production that together plan to reduce emissions from operations by 22 megatonnes by 2030 on the way to net zero by 2050.  

The first tanker shipment from Trans Mountain’s expanded Westridge Marine Terminal is expected later in May.

Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

 The new capacity on the Trans Mountain system comes as demand for Canadian oil from markets outside the United States is on the rise.  

According to the Canada Energy Regulator, exports to destinations beyond the U.S. have averaged a record 267,000 barrels per day so far this year, up from about 130,000 barrels per day in 2020 and 33,000 barrels per day in 2017. 

“Oil demand globally continues to go up,” said Phil Skolnick, New York-based oil market analyst with Eight Capital.  

“Both India and China are looking to add millions of barrels a day of refining capacity through 2030.” 

In India, refining demand will increase mainly for so-called medium and heavy oil like what is produced in Canada, he said. 

“That’s where TMX is the opportunity for Canada, because that’s the route to get to India.”  

Led by India and China, oil demand in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to increase from 36 million barrels per day in 2022 to 52 million barrels per day in 2050, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

More oil coming from Canada will shake up markets for similar world oil streams including from Russia, Ecuador, and Iraq, according to analysts with Rystad Energy and Argus Media. 

Expanded exports are expected to improve pricing for Canadian heavy oil, which “have been depressed for many years” in part due to pipeline shortages, according to TD Economics.  

Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

 In recent years, the price for oil benchmark Western Canadian Select (WCS) has hovered between $18-$20 lower than West Texas Intermediate (WTI) “to reflect these hurdles,” analyst Marc Ercolao wrote in March 

“That spread should narrow as a result of the Trans Mountain completion,” he wrote. 

“Looking forward, WCS prices could conservatively close the spread by $3–4/barrel later this year, which will incentivize production and support industry profitability.”  

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office has said that an increase of US$5 per barrel for Canadian heavy oil would add $6 billion to Canada’s economy over the course of one year. 

The Trans Mountain Expansion will leave a lasting economic legacy, according to an impact assessment conducted by Ernst & Young in March 2023.  

In addition to $4.9 billion in contracts with Indigenous businesses during construction, the project leaves behind more than $650 million in benefit agreements and $1.2 billion in skills training with Indigenous communities.   

Ernst & Young found that between 2024 and 2043, the expanded Trans Mountain system will pay $3.7 billion in wages, generate $9.2 billion in GDP, and pay $2.8 billion in government taxes. 

Alberta

Alberta parents want balance—not bias—in the classroom

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Paige MacPherson

74 per cent of parents in Alberta believe teachers should present both sides of controversial issues (e.g. sexuality/gender, climate change) or avoid them entirely.

With the Alberta government set to test its new draft social studies curriculum in September, a new poll reveals a clear consensus: Alberta parents of K-12 children want schools to provide balance—not bias—in the classroom. And when it comes to controversial material in schools, they want to make their own choices for their children.

Specifically, the poll (conducted by Leger and commissioned by the Fraser Institute) found that 88 per cent of Alberta parents (with kids in public and independent schools) believe teachers and the provincial curriculum should focus on facts—not teacher interpretations of those facts, which may include opinions. Only 10 per cent of Alberta parents disagreed.

Moreover, despite ongoing debates in the media and among activists about K-12 school policies, curriculum development, controversial issues in the classroom and parental involvement, according to the poll, the vast majority of parents agree on how schools should handle these issues.

For example, 74 per cent of parents in Alberta believe teachers should present both sides of controversial issues (e.g. sexuality/gender, climate change) or avoid them entirely.

An overwhelming majority of Alberta parents (86 per cent) believe schools should provide advance notice when controversial topics will be discussed in class or during formal school activities. This isn’t surprising—many parents may want to discuss these issues with their children in advance.

In fact, when controversial topics arise, about three quarters (73 per cent) of Alberta parents believe parents should have the right to remove their children from those lessons without consequence to their children’s grades. Of the minority who do not believe parents should have this right, most said “children need to learn about all topics/viewpoints, regardless of their parents’ bias.”

And almost nine in 10 Alberta parents (89 per cent) believe classroom materials and conversations about potentially controversial topics should always be age appropriate.

These polling results should help inform provincial and school-level policies around parental information, consent, school curricula and teacher curriculum guides. For instance, given that parents overwhelmingly favour facts in classrooms, curriculum guides should require the teaching of specific details (e.g. the key players, dates and context of specific historical events). Currently, teachers are allowed to interpret events based on their opinions, which means students may hear completely different interpretations depending on the particular teacher.

While the preferences of parents with kids in K-12 schools are often presented as contentious in media and politics, polling data shows a clear consensus. Parents overwhelmingly value balance, not bias. They want their kids taught age-appropriate facts rather than opinions. And they expect prior notice before anything controversial happens in their kids’ schools. According to most parents in Alberta, none of these opinions are controversial.

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Alberta

Alberta gets credit boost because of budget discipline

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News release from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Kris Sim

“bringing net adjusted debt to an estimated CAD 57.5 billion in fiscal 2024 (ended on March 31) from CAD 74.6 billion in fiscal 2022”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is applauding the Alberta government for its fiscal discipline which earned the province a boost in its credit rating.

“Alberta is one of the only provinces in Canada with a balanced budget, and it shows with this credit upgrade,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “Paying down the debt, restraining spending and saving for the future were very good moves by this government.”

In its most recent budget, Alberta reported a $367-million surplus. That stands in contrast to neighbouring Saskatchewan’s $273-million deficit and British Columbia’s record-breaking $7.9-billion deficit.

The rating agency, Fitch, upgraded Alberta’s credit from AA- to AA this week, highlighting its debt repayment as a key reason for the improvement.

“Alberta used its recent economic rebound to accelerate fiscal improvements and lower its debt, bringing net adjusted debt to an estimated CAD 57.5 billion in fiscal 2024 (ended on March 31) from CAD 74.6 billion in fiscal 2022,” the Fitch report reads.

The agency also cited Alberta’s spending restraint as a reason for the positive outlook.

“The rapid decline in debt and adherence to spending restraint in recent budgets have been complement with last year’s introduction of a fiscal framework requiring balanced budgets, annual contingencies and using surpluses for debt repayment, savings or one-time investment, is likely to bolster future resilience,” the Fitch report reads.

Interest charges on the province’s debt are estimated to cost taxpayers $3.3 billion this year.

“Credit ratings matter because Albertans pay billions of dollars on interest payments on the debt every year, better credit ratings make it less expensive to pay for that debt, and the less money we waste to pay debt interest charges the better,” said Sims.

 

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