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Filed under: Energy – Page 2

Sustainable Oil Sands?

I’ve just spent a couple of hours examining an impressive document, perhaps the most remarkable of its kind produced by any corporation in the world. The publication is entitled, “A closer look at our journey towards sustainable development”, and is compiled using Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. The GRI is a large multi-stakeholder network of thousands of experts in dozens of countries worldwide, who are participating in efforts to establish a sustainability reporting framework that is standardized and transparent, and which allows organizations to account for their economic, environmental and social performance.

When this company says they are going to take a closer look, they do mean it. The report details their progress across hundreds of categories related to the social and environmental impact of their operations. Continue…

Collateral Damage

Buried amongst the memorabilia I’ve collected through my life is a thank you letter I once received from the Master of the Universe. OK, technically speaking it was from the Master of the SS Universe, a massive oil tanker that traversed our west coast waters back in the early 90’s. On a very nasty night I had co-piloted a Labrador Search and Rescue helicopter with a team of six that flew 200 miles out into the Pacific to airlift a severely ill crewmember of the SS Universe to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria.

This was a dangerous rescue conducted in harsh weather and darkness, the sea heaving violently while we hoisted two SAR Techs and our patient off the deck of the tanker. It was Continue…

Corn Season

I was recently offered a stake in the burgeoning ethanol industry. As many acres of Brazilian farmland as I could afford, on which to grow sugar cane that would be refined into fuel. The unsolicited email didn’t mention how many tropical hardwoods I might have to bulldoze in the process.

I next expect an email from Archer Daniels Midland (Ticker ADM on the NYSE) encouraging me to plant my backyard with corn so that I can do the neighbourly thing and help wean America from it’s dependency on foreign oil. The agribusiness giant is the largest U.S. producer of ethanol, which it makes by processing corn in coal-fired plants at its company base in Decatur, Illinois, and elsewhere in the American Midwest. They have more coal-fired plants both under construction and on the drawing board.

ADM’s appetite for corn might threaten Continue…

Capturing the Wind

My nephew Alex had a good laugh at my expense recently. I was showing off my new MP3 player and explaining to him how I could listen to a song on internet radio and, if I liked it, have it downloaded to my player in a matter of minutes. “Finally catching up to the new technologies are you Uncle Tony? So, are you going to get rid of those boxes of, what do you oldtimers call ‘em, record albums?

After getting up and dusting myself off from this blow to my perceived hipness, I paused to re-examine my slide behind the technological curve. Oh, there was a time when I was fairly current with tech developments, like back in the eighties when my stereo had the latest Dolby noise reduction filters to mask the scratches in my, ahem, record albums. Or even more recently, in the nineties, when I paid a month’s worth of wages for the latest laptop computer. I guess my slide behind the curve began Continue…

Treating an Addiction

When President Bush recently expressed his view that Americans were addicted to oil, many must have wondered what took him so long to wake up to this reality. But let’s not be the pot calling the kettle black, for Canadians are just as addicted to oil as our neighbours to the south. Our predicaments differ however in that Canada also happens to be one of the world’s primary oil exporters, so we are not just addicts, but major dealers too.

Dealing to addicts can clearly be a lucrative business, and you need look no further than the performance of the Toronto stock exchange over the last few years for supporting evidence. Simply put, when the price of oil rises on world markets, the price of stock in many large Canadian corporations also rises. No wonder with so much of our economic activity tied into Continue…

The Future of Dinosaurs

 I really love my brother and very much enjoy his company, it’s just that our outlook on life is so different I marvel sometimes that we were raised under the same roof. You see when I travel on business to Toronto I stay with Colin and his family in their home northwest of the city, where he is kind enough to occasionally share with me the use of his principal vehicle for my work. Now this is not the economical little Honda Civic that I am accustomed to, but an oversized, gas-guzzling, climate-changing beast of an SUV manufactured by General Motors. When I ask him why he needs such an animal, he says, “Bro, if you have an accident on the highways around here, mass wins.” Well, if life is one big demolition derby, it’s hard to argue with that.

Continue…

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