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The Cost to Western Canada if Steven Guilbeault Copies Biden’s Assault on LNG

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8 minute read

From EnergyNow.ca

By Jim Warren

” if all of the gas exported by Canada to the US from 2014 to 2021, the years encompassing the price depression, had instead been exported to Europe at average European prices, Canadian natural gas revenues would have been US $100.7 billion higher “

What would it cost western Canada’s natural gas producers if the federal government does to them what it did to tidewater export opportunities for petroleum?

This question became topical last week when the Biden Democrats announced they would block construction of new LNG export facilities in the US. It makes sense to get a handle on the size of revenues at stake if future development of LNG export capacity in Canada is similarly at risk. Indeed, it seems quite reasonable to worry that Steven Guilbeault will take inspiration from the Biden decision and try to do something similarly silly in Canada.

Getting pipelines to tidewater is something Canada’s petroleum industry has been counting on to improve export revenues. This was a particularly urgent hope during the eight-year oil price depression that lasted from Fall 2014 until early Winter 2022. It was, and still is, assumed exporting Canadian diluted bitumen (dilbit) into new non-US markets will allow producers to avoid the costly differential charges assessed by American buyers and refiners.

What if scenarios floated during the eight-year price slump showed that had the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain pipelines been completed, Canadian producers could have earned billions in additional revenues. Estimates of lost revenues ranged from a Fraser Institute estimate of $15.8 billion for 2018 alone to my own low-ball estimate for losses of $7 billion to $9 billion for that same year. Numerous back of the napkin “what if” calculations for lost revenues produced in coffee shops across the prairies helped fuel frustration and anger at federal government environmental policies intended to limit global warming by cancelling pipelines.

Fast forward to 2024 and we can see that similar conditions apply to western Canada’s natural gas sector. The US is virtually the sole export market for Canadian natural gas. Looking back at the period from 2010-2019 we find that the prices paid by US importers for Canadian natural gas were less than half what Europeans were paying. The price spread became exponentially wider beginning in 2016. It peaked in 2022 when the European price was six times higher than the US price. The European gas price will be five times higher than US prices for 2024.

All else being equal, if all of the gas exported by Canada to the US from 2014 to 2021, the years encompassing the price depression, had instead been exported to Europe at average European prices, Canadian natural gas revenues would have been US $100.7 billion higher than what they actually were.

Of course “all else” is far from being equal. The $100.7 billion figure does not account for the cost of converting natural gas to LNG or the added costs of ocean transportation. In addition, the estimate assumes enough Canadian pipelines and tidewater terminals could be built to accommodate all of the gas currently flowing to the US.

The yawning chasm between US and EU prices today is of course largely the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022.  EU sanctions aimed at Russian energy exports and the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines has put Europe firmly on track for developing new sources of natural gas.

Notwithstanding the bland platitudes and unreachable targets emanating from the most recent COP conference in the UAE, there are policy makers in many countries who recognize the important role natural gas can play in reducing global GHG emissions. For example, in December 2021 the European Commission made changes to its GHG emissions law. It now allows both nuclear energy and natural gas to be considered suitable transition fuels during the period while renewable options become more viable.

Lately, there has been a popular backlash in Europe and the UK over excessively zealous green transition initiatives. It turns out a lot of people are unwilling to accept additional increases to their cost of living even when told it is necessary to “save the planet.” People won’t stand for a prohibitively expensive green transition. And they never will be willing to freeze in the dark; especially when an acceptable option like natural gas is available.

Biden’s bizarre decision to block the expansion of US LNG export facilities was probably not motivated by a desperate desire or useful effort to curb GHG emissions. It is more likely a ham-handed attempt to staunch the Democrats’ loss of support among the young and the woke. Regardless of Biden’s motivation, we might reasonably worry that Canada’s environment minister will want to copy him. You might think the collapse in support for Canada’s Liberals and common sense would militate against the imposition of any additional half-baked environmental policy. But when has common sense ever intervened in the creation of environmentally virtuous policy on the part of the Liberals in Ottawa?

I have provided my data sources and relevant tables below

Hypothetical question: What if the exports to the US had been exported to Europe?

the cost of canada's steven guilbeault copying biden’s assault on lng 1

Source: derived by the author from the sources and data provided below

Natural gas prices for the US and Europe 2022 to 2024 in US$ per million British thermal units (BTUs) 2023 and 2024 figures are forecasts.*

the cost of canada's steven guilbeault copying biden’s assault on lng 2

Source: derived from Statist: Natual gas commodity prices in Europe and the United States from 1980 to 2022 with forecasts for 2023 and 2024.
https://www-statista-com.libproxy.uregina.ca/statistics/252791/natural-gas-prices/

Canadian natural gas exports in billion cubic metres (all to US)

the cost of canada's steven guilbeault copying biden’s assault on lng 3

Source: Statista. Natural gas exports by pipeline from Canada from 2010 to 2021 (in billion cubic metres).
https://www-statista-com.libproxy.uregina.ca/statistics/567703/natural-gas-exports-from-canada/

 

Natural gas prices for the US and Europe 2010 to 2024 in US$ per million British thermal units (BTUs) 2023 and 2024 figures are forecasts.*

the cost of canada's steven guilbeault copying biden’s assault on lng 4

Source: Statista: Natural gas commodity prices in Europe and the United States from 1980 to 2022 with forecasts for 2023 and 2024.
https://www-statista-com.libproxy.uregina.ca/statistics/252791/natural-gas-prices/

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Agriculture

European farmers continue to protest New World Order’s anti-food agenda

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Frank Wright

As the farmer-led protests in the EU rage on, globalists are slowly learning that labeling those demanding the ability to provide food for the future as ‘extremist’ is not going to work.

Farmer protests in Europe continue to escalate, with Belgian farmers blockading the capital yesterday, Monday February, 26, with 900 tractors and driving through police barricades.  

Belgian farmers sprayed police with manure and lit bonfires with tires in a fiery day of action which saw barbed wire and anti-tank obstacles placed outside European Union institutions, and police dousing the crowd with water cannons.  

The action comes days after a convoy of Spanish farmers lead an estimated 20,000 people to protest outside the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture.  

The plea of one Spanish farmer at the February 21 protest was stark. Silvia Ruiz, 46, a livestock farmer from the north-central area of Burgos told The Associated Press.  

It is impossible to live from the rural industry, which is what we want, to live from our work. That is all we ask for.

 Video from Madrid showed the scale of the protest, at which AP said banners were displayed reading “Farmers in Extinction” and “There is no life without farming.”

Spanish farmers conducted another four-day national action in early February, their complaints echoing what The Daily Telegraph called “common talking points from what has been an eruption of farmers protests in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy and Spain over recent months.” Protests have also emerged in England and Wales in recent months. 

Reasons to be fearful

The reasons given by farmers for their Europe-wide action present a direct challenge to the policies of European governments – which they say are resulting in extreme pressure on small-scale farmers. British farmers issued a desperate plea last September, saying they too were “struggling to survive.”

So what are the issues facing European farmers? This report examines the policies and practices which have combined to produce a hostile environment for Europe’s small scale farmers. 

Agenda 21 – a coordinated effort?

A documentary published by the Epoch Times in September 2023 argues that soaring food prices and food shortages “have little to do with climate change – but are the direct result of an environmental policy that was conceived over 30 years ago.”

The reference in the documentary, titled “No Farmers: No Food” is to“Agenda 21,” the United Nations’ “Master Plan for Humanity” for the 21st Century. Now renamed Agenda 2030, with that year being given as the target for the agenda’s implementation, it is a program that dates back as far as 1989. 

The agenda’s seemingly laudable goals to “eradicate global poverty,” reduce consumer waste and combat the degradation of the natural world whilst promoting prosperity can be seen in another dimension. 

An ‘excuse for government to do what they want’

Christian journalist Alex Newman says in the documentary that this noble-sounding agenda simply “gives government an excuse to do whatever they want, under the guise of meeting these goals.”

From its inception, the “master plan” demanded increased “trade liberalization,” the strengthening of “international institutions” backed by a series of “development banks” from government and private finance to drive accelerated global coordination. 

Yet “trade liberalization” and a punitive regulatory environment are two factors cited by farmers across Europe which they say are threatening their very existence.  

‘Green’ farmers also in protest

Farmers who support measures to limit pesticide use and the move to less polluting means of production have also mobilized to protest against “the neoliberal policies in agriculture the WTO has been promoting for decades which have led to the systematic impoverishment of farmers.” 

A group called the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), which represents small-holder farmers in 21 European countries, highlights the worsening struggle for survival faced by small-scale farmers. In a February 25 report, farmers Morgan Ody and Vincent Delobel spoke out in advance of the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi.  

These are the people who produce Europe’s food – whether conventionally or organically, on a small or a medium scale. They stand united by a shared reality: They are fed up with spending their lives working incessantly without ever getting a decent income. We have reached this point after decades of neoliberal agricultural policies and free trade agreements. Production costs have risen steadily in recent years, while prices paid to farmers have stagnated or even fallen.

The effect on small-scale farmers has been devastating – but beneficial for corporations.  

“All the while, through mergers and speculation, large agroindustrial groups have gotten bigger and stronger, putting increased pressure on prices and practices for farmers.”  

‘Like the Soviet Union’

This argument, coming from farmers supportive of sensible “sustainable development” measures, echoes a warning given by U,S, conservative scholar Victor Davis Hanson. 

Hanson’s segment in “No Farmers: No Food” treats this issue as a matter of the concentration of food production in the hands of the state – or under its direction. 

They feel that humans don’t need meat-based protein. They want to either force people to follow their paradigms – or they want to buy or accumulate farmland and that’s how they’re going to farm it.

It’s sort of like Mao’s cultural revolution or the Soviet Union – and it results in disasters.

At least 45 million people are said to have “been starved, tortured or beaten to death” under Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” with the forced collectivization of farms in the Soviet Union contributing to a famine which caused the deaths of at least 3 million people between 1931 and 1934. 

Hanson says this example does not deter the “academic mind,” which “always has the answers, but never in the real world.”

What is happening in the real world is, according to Hanson, the systematic global consolidation of farming in the hands of state and corporate power. 

“They want large blocks [of farming] run by the government – or by private consortia” where meat can be largely eradicated by the control of agricultural production. 

The real world action of Bill Gates

Hanson cites the example of Bill Gates’ purchase of large tracts of farmland, coupled with the stated objectives of his “philanthropic” organization.   

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had by 2017 granted an estimated $6 billion of investment in the future of farming according to one small farmer’s campaign group, GRAIN.  

Its 2021 report argued that the foundation is “driving the food system in the wrong direction,” saying “[Gates’] funding overwhelmingly went to research institutes rather than farmers. They were also mainly directed at shaping policies to support industrial farming, not smallholders.” 

Far from providing “the substantial flow of new and additional financial resources to developing countries” exhorted by the 1989 UN statement on Agenda 21,  the Gates Foundation sends 80-90 percent of its funds to U.S. and Europe based NGOs, “buying political influence” and promoting a “corporate-industrial farming agenda.”  

The funding patterns of Gates’ so-called charity “illustrates the point of where the priorities of the Foundation lie.” 

Killing small farmers

These priorities are opposed to those of small farmers – whether in the developed or the developing world. Both populations are plagued with farmer suicides – from India through Australia and the United States, given plummeting prices and the increasing pressure to consolidate farming. Studies in Ireland, France and the U.K. show far higher rates of suicide amongst farmers – a trend that has continued over the last decade, as this 2015 report shows. 

The pressure driving farmers to desperation is related to a model exampled, as Alex Newman argues, on that adopted in China. 

“We are seeing that in China now, where these giant, mechanized, corporate, big-government controlled mega-farms are displacing all these little small family farms,” he says.

The stated aims of Agenda 30 may be an example of Hanson’s “academic answer” – which is contradicted by the real world effects it has produced.  

Ally versus ally?

Diplomatic tensions now accompany farmer protests, and have spread beyond Eastern Europe to the West. 

The Prime Minister of France Gabriel Attal responded to recent protests in France, acknowledging a further dimension of the threat to small farmers’ livelihoods: cheap imports from Ukraine.  

Attal said his government is working to protect French farmers against imports from Ukraine of chicken, eggs, sugar and cereals. 

“Solidarity with Ukraine is obviously essential, but it cannot be to the detriment of our farmers,” the prime minister said.

Attal’s remarks, reported by Britain’s Independent on February 22, recall the ongoing blockade of the border by Polish farmers – undertaken in protest against cheap imports. 

Poland continues to block Ukrainian grain

Farmers have attempted to block imports of Ukrainian grain, with two acts of grain destruction alleged in the past month. Ukrainian news outlet European Pravda reported the following incident  

On the night of 24-25 February in Poland, Ukrainian grain exports suffered the most extensive damage since the beginning of the farmer protests, with the attackers damaging 160 tonnes of Ukrainian grain.

A social media post recorded the aftermath of the grain spill, showing the alleged sabotage. 

The incident comes weeks after a similar event on February 11, when according to the same report, “Polish farmers protesting near the Ukrainian border spilled some grain from three Ukrainian lorries near the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint.” 

The Ukrainian deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov complained of “160 tons of Ukrainian grain destroyed…[in] the fourth case of vandalism at Polish railway stations.”

Farmers fighting for a viable life are now fracturing former alliances, showing the state-level impact of the issue of food security. 

Against the grain

Polish farmers began their attempts to block Ukrainian imports in late November, with assurances from the new Polish Minister of Agriculture providing only a temporary pause. The protests follow a troubled year for Ukrainian grain exports, with the EU conceding to demands from Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia with a temporary ban on Ukrainian maize, wheat, rapeseed and sunflower seed from May-June, 2023. 

The ban was extended until September 15. When it was lifted, Reuters reported that “Slovakia, Poland and Hungary imposed national restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports after the European Union executive decided not to extend its ban on imports into those countries and fellow EU members Bulgaria and Romania.” 

The reason supplied was to protect domestic farmers from being undermined by cheap imports.  

“The countries have argued that cheap Ukrainian agricultural goods – meant mainly to transit further west and to ports – get sold locally, harming their own farmers.” 

Following the elections on October 15, the incoming Polish government of Donald Tusk, a noted globalist, appears unwilling to confront the farmers directly. Last week, the Polish government snubbed the Ukrainian delegation, failing to appear at a recent meeting convened by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to end the crisis. According to Agence France Presse (AFP): 

Ukraine’s prime minister went to the border with Poland on Friday [February 23] hoping to end weeks of protests by Polish farmers but he said no-one from the neighboring government turned up for talks.

Zelensky proposed the frontier meeting, issuing a statement saying Ukraine’s grain did not go to the Polish market “at the request of the Polish side.”

Zelensky’s remarks appear to be contradicted by the continued attempts to export Ukrainian grain into Poland. 

He added: “We are willing and will do everything to resolve this issue.” 

But Tusk’s chief of staff Jan Grabiec told AFP that Warsaw had not sent a delegation because a meeting “makes no sense at the moment.”

He said the two sides were “far” from a deal to end the showdown. 

“Unfortunately, there is not yet a Ukrainian proposition that allows to hope for an end to the deadlock in commercial relations.” 

The two governments are set to meet on March 26 in an attempt to resolve a crisis, which by then will have been ongoing for over ten months. The snub by Tusk’s pro-EU and pro-Ukraine administration shows the extraordinary power of the farmer’s movement in shifting public opinion on an alliance which formerly saw Zelensky receive a “hero’s welcome” in Poland last April. Going against the Ukrainian grain was unthinkable only a year ago.  

Farmers and the future

The farmer protests have been caricatured as “agrarian populism” – a progressive phrase intended as as slur. In characterizing these protests as irrational, and bracketing them with extremism, critics such as the U.K.-based European Consortium for Political Research seek to frames this crisis as one which “emphasizes the antagonistic relationship between the virtuous peasants and people from the countryside on the one side, and the evil and corrupt urban elites on the other.” 

Yet the farmer movement is not driven by fantasies of good and evil, but by basic reality. Farmers across the world claim the current system is threatening their very existence.  

Many are taking their own lives, with many others taking to the streets. It seems that some governments are now taking notice. As the protests continue, the message is breaking through to the would be managers of the Master Plan for Humanity – that if the demand for food and a future without misery is defined as extremist, then it is not the small-scale farmers who must give way. 

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Economy

Canada’s flippant rejection of our generous natural resource inheritance

Published on

From the Macdonald Laurier Institute

By David Polansky

The fanaticism of environmental elitists has made people unwilling to discuss the serious human and economic costs of poorly considered environmental policies.

Strategic energy resources have long been associated with some of the world’s most odious regimes. Above the surfaces that cover rich mineral and fossil fuel deposits one finds religious fanatics, brutal tyrants, and corrupt kleptocracies. And yet with one resource rich nation in particular we find not Wahhabism or gangsterism but Mounties and maple syrup.

Canada is the world’s second-largest country and its lands and territorial waters hold some of the world’s most substantial oil and gas reserves. Looking at its energy policies, one might think it was Belgium. Canada’s resource wealth would seem to be a case of the good guys winning for once. Why then does Canada flee in shame from its geological (and geopolitical) situation?

The answer is that Canada’s elites have long ceased to think in terms of its national interests or fiscal priorities but have adopted a naïve environmental dogmatism. Since it ratified the Paris Agreement in 2015, Canada has embraced an ambitious, top-down, international agenda to achieve “net-zero” emissions and limit global climate change.

But the fact is that, despite its size, In absolute terms, its output has risen marginally over the past half century, even as its population has nearly doubled. And embracing this climate agenda is hardly a perfunctory matter: it will continue to result in declining incomes for the average Canadian as well as a weakened trade balance for Canada as a whole. Canada’s economy is being sacrificed on the altar of elite preferences divorced from the realities of how Canadians actually heat our homes or put food on our tables.

An honest assessment of Canada’s flippant rejection of its generous natural resource inheritance looks more like serial masochism than virtue.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the global sanctions it triggered, The irony is that with so much of Russia’s supply coming offline, Canada could have had a remarkable opportunity to fill the vacuum with its own production capacity.

Despite being the world’s sixth-largest producer of natural gas, Canada lacks even a single export terminal for LNG. When critics of Canadian LNG production pointed to the unfeasibility of meeting overseas demand, despite the entreaties of the Germans and other Europeans, they were only technically correct. Canada couldn’t easily meet overseas demand because our regulatory regime has held up the construction of as many as 18 proposed LNG projects over the past decade, largely due to climate concerns.

Ironically, Germany—the continent’s greatest industrial power—needed to reactivate discontinued coal plants to meet its energy demands (hardly an ideal outcome from an environmental standpoint).

Much of the shortfall caused by sanctions on Russia was also made up by LNG contributions from Norway—whose leaders have maintained that reducing LNG output would only cede the market to authoritarian regimes with weaker regulatory controls around their energy industries from both environmental and human rights standpoints. Thankfully, Norway’s government moved forward with LNG production and export despite past pressure from environmentalist in the European Union that attempted to curtail its fossil fuel extraction.

Canada could have followed Norway’s level-headed approach and in that could have helped replace Russian oil in the aftermath of the Ukraine invasion. The curtailing of Canada’s energy infrastructure is not imposed by a physical limitation in the world, nor was it commanded from the heavens; it was ordered by the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act of 2021, supplemented by ambitious plans promulgated by Ottawa to reshape the institutions and practices of the entire country in pursuit of this quixotic goal. Not just the oil-and-gas sector, but housing, construction, agriculture, etc. must bend before Net Zero.

One can already hear activist outrage that, “to oppose this agenda is to choose temporary profits over the preservation of human life and the planet that supports it.” This rhetoric has proven effective in advancing environmental policies but it is also a false dichotomy, as it treats the dilemma as one of “good vs. greed” rather than one of complex competing goods.

A society that has signed on to this sort of imposed austerity is one with less money for infrastructure, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and defense. A lack of investment in these sectors also brings serious and immediate human costs. And further, the real issue is not the value of environmental stewardship or of taking steps to moderate consumption—both of which are worthy goals in and of themselves—but of blindly adhering to preselected targets at all costs. These apparently unassailable commitments have deprived Canada of the kind of flexible management of strategic interests that prudent political leadership requires.

Indeed, the unrealism of these climate ideals has produced systemic dissembling across the country’s major institutions, given the pressure to comply regardless of the efficacy of their practices. In other words, the fanaticism of environmental elitists has made people unwilling to debate the issues at hand or to even discuss the serious human and economic costs of poorly considered environmental policies.

The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) model has had the effect of placing certain questions effectively beyond the reach of politics. But questions of policy—as environmental and energy questions surely are—are by their nature political; they have inevitable tradeoffs that should be a matter of debate with an eye to our collective interests.

Instead, we have an intolerant environmental elitism that obstructs the open and honest public deliberation that is the hallmark of democratic politics. A more truthful and practical approach wouldn’t necessarily promote any one policy, but it would allow for public discussion that recognizes the genuine toll that environmental policy takes on Canada’s domestic well-being and our standing in the world.

David Polansky is a Toronto-based writer and political theorist. Read him at strangefrequencies.co or find him on X @polanskydj.

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