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Alberta

With a boost of up to $200 million from the Province, Inter Pipeline Ltd. investing $600 million in new petrochemical plant east of Edmonton

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Premier Notley announces private investment in a new petrochemical upgrading facility alongside David Chappell (r), Patrick Bergen and Pyramid Prefab Piping staff.

From the Province of Alberta

Made-in-Alberta plan attracts new jobs, investment

Alberta is taking a significant step forward on a more diversified economy with a project that supports hundreds of jobs and adds more value to our energy resources.

If the plan is finalized, Inter Pipeline Ltd. would invest about $600 million in a new petrochemical upgrading facility that would produce more valuable consumer products derived from propane, including acrylic acid that is used in many everyday consumer products. This major private investment is unlocked by support from Premier Rachel Notley’s Made-in-Alberta energy diversification strategy.

The project would build on the company’s supply and knowledge of propylene, a product it already produces at the company’s other petrochemical facilities east of Edmonton. Construction would create about 600 jobs with another 50 long-term positions supporting the local economy once the facility is fully up and running.

“For decades, Albertans settled for less while new jobs and investment went south of the border. So we’re grabbing the bull by the horns, fighting for a Made-in-Alberta plan that represents the single largest energy diversification effort since the days of Peter Lougheed. We’re proud to support upgrading projects like Inter Pipeline’s because they mean more good jobs and top dollar for the energy resources that belong to all Albertans.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

Inter Pipeline’s supply of propylene, a gas that results from adding value to raw propane, creates the opportunity to further leverage Alberta’s natural resource strengths and extend the value chain. By producing acrylic acid used in things like adhesives, floor polishes and paints, this project increases the likelihood of attracting investments in more manufacturing facilities in the future.

“Alberta’s abundance of natural resources has positioned Inter Pipeline to invest in opportunities like this that build on our strengths to extend the value chain and make products that are in demand around the world. We want to commend this government for fostering the environment for companies like ours to grow and create jobs, while competitively positioning our business in the world market.”

David Chappell, senior vice-president, Petrochemical Development, Inter Pipeline Ltd.

The announcement was made at Pyramid Prefab Piping, one of the hundreds of companies across the province benefiting from the Made-in-Alberta strategy. As a manufacturer that employs about 45 people in Calgary, Pyramid was contracted to build key components for Inter Pipeline’s project already under construction.

“We’re pleased to see the government’s vision for the future is focused on jobs and diversification, which will lead to more work for companies like ours to build the components needed for energy upgrading projects. This growth means we can put even more skilled tradespeople to work in the Calgary region and contribute even more to the oil and gas sector.”

Patrick Bergen, president, Pyramid Prefab Piping

If finalized by Inter Pipeline, the private investment would be unlocked by provincial support of up to $70 million in future royalty credits under the Petrochemicals Diversification Program, which was first developed in early 2016.

Quick facts

  • Inter Pipeline’s acrylic acid and propylene derivatives facility would be in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, northeast of Edmonton. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.
  • The facility would convert 60,000 tonnes per year of propylene and produce 80,000 tonnes per year of propylene derivatives, including acrylic acid, when operational.
  • Acrylic acid is a value-added product used to make coatings, adhesives, diapers, floor polishes and paints.
  • Roughly 50 skilled, local permanent jobs and 600 skilled trade construction jobs would be created.
  • Inter Pipeline has already been approved to receive up to $200 million in future royalty credits from the first round of the Petrochemicals Diversification Program for the construction its $3.5-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex.

Background

Made-in-Alberta energy strategy

  • Premier Notley’s government is investing $3 billion to support energy diversification that creates jobs and adds value to our resources here at home.
  • The focus is on two key areas: partial upgrading of our bitumen and petrochemical processing that adds value to natural gas and natural gas liquids.
  • Overall, this commitment is expected to attract more than $25 billion in private-sector investment to Alberta and create more than 20,000 jobs.

Petrochemical upgrading

  • Support for the Inter Pipeline facility is provided under the petrochemical portion of the Made-in-Alberta strategy.
  • Two projects – owned by the Canada-Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation and Inter Pipeline Ltd. – were selected under the first round of this program, which was announced in 2016. The projects combined for $8 billion in private investment, creating more than 5,000 jobs.
  • The government announced a second round of support for petrochemical upgrading in 2018.
    • Nauticol’s methanol facility was previously selected under the second round of this program. The entire project is a $2-billion private investment in a plant near Grande Prairie, creating roughly 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • Albertans and Canadians use dozens of products every day that are based in part on petrochemicals like those from Alberta’s growing value-added industry including:
    • polyester fabric couches, HD televisions, phones coffeemakers and computers
    • car tires, engine hoses, gas, oil, radio components and seats
    • desks, chairs, computers, carpets, cellphones and other office supplies

Partial upgrading of bitumen

  • $1 billion in grants and loan guarantees to encourage companies to invest in new or expanded bitumen-upgrading facilities.
  • Partial upgrading reduces the thickness of oil sands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily, without having to be blended with diluent or as much diluent, a thinning agent. Benefits include:
    • increased prices for our resources before shipping
    • up to 30 per cent more capacity on existing pipelines
    • more world refineries capable of processing our product
    • cost savings on diluent for industry
    • fewer emissions by removing high carbon content

Energy diversification timeline

  • January 2016 – Royalty Review Advisory Panel recommended more value-add within the province, including partial upgrading
  • February 2016 – Petrochemicals Diversification Program (PDP) introduced
  • October 2016 – Energy Diversification Advisory Committee (EDAC) formed
  • December 2016 – First PDP projects awarded
  • December 2017 – Inter Pipeline finalized investment in petrochemical project
  • February 2018 – EDAC reported back, including recommendation of partial upgrading, more PDP and additional support for petrochemical feedstock infrastructure
  • March 2018 – Government launched programs through the Energy Diversification Act
  • Fall 2018 – oil price differential hit crisis point. In response, government took several actions:
    • Temporary limit on oil production
    • Doubled support for PDP
    • Began crude-by-rail negotiations
    • Appointed LNG Investment Team
    • Request for industry interest in building refining capacity
  • January 2019 – Government announced letter of intent for first partial upgrading project awarded (Value Creation Inc.)
  • February 2019 – Canada-Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation  finalized investment in petrochemical project
  • February 2019 – Premier announced crude-by-rail agreements
  • February 2019 – Nauticol awarded first project under second round of PDP

Alberta

The electricity price cap in Alberta is gone. What now?

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How the electricity price cap removal will affect Alberta utility bills (Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash)

Many Albertans have been reading the news about higher regulated electricity rates in December, after the price cap on energy rates was scrapped by the province. Even though this was announced by the Government of Alberta in late October, as part of the new budget, people only started to hear more about it on November 30. That was when the regulated energy providers announced their new power rates; this time, without a cap on prices. 

The program was created by the NDP government in 2017 to cap energy rates for residential and small business consumers. Regulated rate (RRO) consumers wouldn’t pay more than 6.8 cents per kWh, meaning that any costs above that threshold were paid by the province. The main goal behind the cap was to protect consumers from rate spikes and, consequently, financial uncertainty. 

In order to predict how your energy bills (and your wallet) could be impacted by this change, we need to take a look at historical prices, future market trends and what prices would’ve been this past year without the cap. 

How the 6.8 cents/kWh price cap worked

Regulated electricity rates in Alberta change every month. Although the prices need to be approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), they can be affected by multiple factors, including politics, natural disasters, economic reasons and more. 

In the past 10 years, electricity rates in Alberta went as high as 15.06 cents/kWh and as low as 2.88 cents/kWh. The cap provided protection for Albertans as the government subsidized any prices above 6.8 cents/kWh. 

The effects of the electricity price cap in Calgary in 2019

According to the Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA), regulated electricity rates in the Calgary area (ENMAX) went above the 6.8 cents/kWh during most months of 2019, except for March, April, May and June. 

  • January: 7.727 cents/kWh
  • February: 7.009 cents/kWh
  • March: 5.914 cents/kWh
  • April: 6.067 cents/kWh
  • May: 6.390 cents/kWh
  • June: 6.391 cents/kWh 
  • July: 8.434 cents/kWh
  • August: 8.805 cents/kWh
  • September: 7.590 cents/kWh
  • October: 6.736 cents/kWh* 
  • November: 7.399 cents/kWh
  • December: 7.320 cents/kWh 
*According to the UCA, prices still reached the price cap in October, although they were officially 6.736 cents/kWh. 

This means the average price would’ve been approximately 7.15 cents/kWh, which makes quite a difference in energy bill terms, considering that the average household in Canada consumes around 1,000 kWh per month. After an entire year of high electricity rates, this difference looks even larger. 

The effects of the electricity price cap in Edmonton in 2019

In the Edmonton region (EPCOR), the difference between what consumers paid and what they would’ve paid without the cap is even more noticeable. According to the UCA, regulated prices went above the 6.8 cents threshold in all months except for March. 

Without the cap, the average price per kWh in the Edmonton area in 2019 would’ve been 7.84 cents/kWh. 

  • January: 7.733 cents/kWh
  • February: 7.189 cents/kWh
  • March: 5.991 cents/kWh
  • April: 6.981 cents/kWh
  • May: 6.990 cents/kWh
  • June: 7.231 cents/kWh
  • July: 9.578 cents/kWh
  • August: 10.191 cents/kWh
  • September: 8.2 cents/kWh
  • October: 7.342 cents/kWh
  • November: 8.63 cents/kWh
  • December: 8.069 cents/kWh 

Are my electricity bills going to increase in the months ahead?

Now that the price cap is gone, many households and small businesses are concerned about facing higher utility costs in the months ahead. 

Power prices reached historically low averages in 2017, but the average rate in Alberta was 7.3 cents/kWh for the 2002-2018 period, which is considerably above the price cap, especially in cents/kWh terms.

The future of electricity prices is still unclear. Consumers will have to wait and see whether rates will go up or down. We can expect to see RRO prices fluctuate slightly more now that they are free to go above the 6.8 cents/kWh threshold, as it happened in December and for most of the time in 2019.

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Alberta

Four tips for preventing and handling Cyberbullying

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This article is published with permission from SOS SAFETY MAGAZINE.

NOVEMBER 30, 2019

Growing up in the digital age has both pros and cons. On one hand, your child has access to an enormous amount of information that can guide their learning and connect them with many opportunities. On the other hand, there are people who use the internet with cruel intent to harm others with minimal or no consequences.

Cyberbullying is one of the negative effects of being able to access the internet at our fingertips. Bullying that was once done at school and could be monitored is now happening at all times online.

To help prevent cyberbullying and properly handle cases of online harassment, here are 4 suggestions for parents to consider.

  1. Create Awareness

While kids may be aware that cyberbullying is occurring, parents are often left in the dark. Panda Security found that 76% of parents claimed their child has never been cyberbullied.

While such a large percentage of parents don’t think their child is being cyberbullied, stats on cyberbullying tell an entirely different story. The National Crime Prevention Center reported that 43% of teens were victims of cyberbullying in the last year and Pew Research Center found that 59% of teens have been a target of cyberbullying.

There is a clear gap between how often parents think cyberbullying is occurring and how much it actually is. In order to close this gap, there needs to be more awareness and understanding of the topic.

  1. Report Cyberbullies

With a screen hiding their identity, cyberbullies feel safe to harass without consequences. To combat this, we must encourage kids to report cyberbullies. There are a few reasons these bullies aren’t reported.

To start, there is a fear of retaliation. Kids would rather keep quiet than be labelled a snitch or accidentally encourage the bully to take further action. Many cyberbullies are kids from school so they may also fear an in-school issue if they report the online issue.

In addition to this, kids feel ashamed. Being a victim of mean comments can be embarrassing and hard to bring up to adults. Bullies play on people’s insecurities on purpose so that people will be less likely to report them.

While these worries and concerns aren’t something you, as a parent, can control, you can control your reaction when your child tells you about a bully. A common fear many kids have is of how an adult will react or if they will be believed. Reassuring your child of your support will help them feel comfortable reporting these cyberbullies.

  1. Take the Right Action

If your child told you they were cyberbullied, how would you react? When surveyed about reacting to a cyberbully on social media, 73% of parents said they would block the bully’s profile, 56% would report them to the social platform and 50% would file a complaint with the school.

While 58% of parents would reach out to the bully’s parents, only 24% would reach out to the bully directly. This shows that there may not be a proper consequence given to the bully.

Taking the right action is important so that the bully knows what they did is wrong. If the cyberbully isn’t directly addressed and reported, they could continue harassing other kids. Be sure you’re aware of the laws and regulations for bullying in your state.

  1. Have Open Conversations

One of the most important things you can do is to have an open conversation with your child about cyberbullying. Panda Security found that 41% of parents have never had a conversation with their child about bullying. Of these parents who haven’t had a conversation with their kids about cyberbullying, 51% were dads and 65% were moms.

Parents would rather regulate their children’s online activity than have an open discussion with them. While regulations can help, there are many ways that kids can get around them. In addition, online monitoring doesn’t catch everything.

Keeping an open dialogue about bullying will help your kids feel more comfortable coming to you if there ever is an issue. Taking this preventative measure is healthier than simply being reactionary.

To open up this conversation, here are 8 suggestions for talking about cyberbullying. 

  • Talk about how you read about a rise in cyberbullying and stats that go along with it.
  • Discuss examples of cyberbullying that you’ve witnessed or heard of.
  • Ask if your kid has witnessed cyberbullying. Rather than directly asking if they have been a victim, let them open up about a friend or classmate.
  • Assure them that if they were cyberbullying you would want to know so that you could support them.
  • Let them know your policy on cyberbullying. What exactly would you do if they were cyberbullied and what would you do if they were caught being a bully.
  • Emphasize how important it is to keep their device safe and secure.
  • Be open with them about how you plan on monitoring their device to keep it safe.
  • Ensure that your child knows that they have your support and you’re on their team.

Cyberbullying is an issue that many parents are facing or might face in the future. Being prepared and letting your child know you are there for them can make all the difference.

Learn more about SOS Safety Magazine, an amazing free resource in our community.

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