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Alberta

Pandemic resurgence blunts refined fuel demand recovery, says Imperial Oil CEO

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CALGARY — The CEO of Imperial Oil Ltd. says rising COVID-19 infection numbers have stalled a recovery in demand for vehicle fuels produced in its Canadian refineries from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns in March and April.

Brad Corson, speaking at the company’s investor day, says demand for Imperial’s gasoline and diesel have recovered to between 85 and 95 per cent of normal levels but jet fuel demand is still only at about 40 per cent and it is expected to remain at low ebb into early 2021.

Downstream vice-president Jon Wetmore says the company is calling for refinery utilization of 89 per cent and throughput of 375,000 barrels of oil per day in 2021, up from 80 per cent and 340,000 bpd this year.

But he concedes those forecast numbers represent a best estimate that will greatly depend on whether the pandemic advances or retreats over the next few months.

Imperial says it expects capital spending of $1.2 billion in 2021, up from total capital spending of about $900 million this year.

Production is expected to rise to 415,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 395,000 boe/d this year, mainly due to output increasing to an average of 255,000 barrels per day from 220,000 bpd this year at the Kearl oilsands mine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)

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Alberta

Calgary panda pair heading home to China after pandemic crimps zoo’s bamboo supplies

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CALGARY — The Calgary Zoo says two giant pandas are on their way home to China today.

The zoo said in May that it would be sending the pair back early because the COVID-19 pandemic was making it difficult to source bamboo.

The plant makes up 99 per cent of the animals’ diet and the zoo has said it was an expensive and all-consuming effort to cobble together supplies from across North America.

The zoo says on Twitter it was a difficult decision to send the pandas home three years earlier than planned.

It says it took months of hard work to secure international permits to get the pandas home.

The zoo posted photos of reams of paperwork needed for the journey, the crates that were to carry the pandas and the Lufthansa Cargo plane that was to take them to China.

The two adults, Er Shun and Da Mao, were on loan from China to Canadian zoos as part of a 10-year deal signed in 2012. They were to stay in Calgary until 2023.

Two cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, were born in Toronto in 2015. They were sent to China as planned in January.

The price tag to have the pandas in Calgary was around $30 million, including $14.4 million for the Panda Passage exhibit itself. Expanded parking lots, washrooms and restaurants were also required to accommodate an expected influx of visitors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta adds 700 enforcers to stop COVID-19 rule-breakers as hospitalizations climb

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CALGARY — Alberta is giving 700 more peace officers the power to enforce COVID-19 restrictions as hospitalizations for the virus continue to climb in the province. 

“We are not asking these officers to stop cold their day-to-day priorities or to harass responsible Albertans going about their everyday lives,” Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said Friday, as Alberta reported 1,227 new COVID-19 cases and nine more deaths. 

Police officers and health inspectors also have the ability to enforce the rules. 

Federal data shows that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people. 

Alberta has 405 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 86 in intensive care. A week ago, there were 55 patients in intensive care with COVID-19. 

Postponing surgeries is one of the ways the province is freeing up space to accommodate more people severely ill with the virus. 

New measures came into effect Friday to help blunt the spike in cases. Private indoor social gatherings are banned, capacity limits have been imposed on stores and students between grades 7 and 12 switch to remote learning on Monday. 

Fines for breaking the rules range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that make it to court. 

When asked whether there would be crackdowns on anti-mask rallies, Madu said police will make independent decisions. 

“But as minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable.”

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she is disappointed to hear about Alberta Health Services inspectors being verbally abused. 

“Nobody deserves that, least of all the people who are working to keep all of us safe,” she said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020. 

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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