NEWS FROM THE FIELD
Regina votes to go all renewable
CBC Saskatchewan - Regina city council has voted unanimously in favour of being “100 per cent renewable” by 2050.
That means completely moving away from fossil fuels when it comes to generating power for the city.
City administration has been asked to return to council in 2019 with a proposed framework for becoming 100 per cent renewable.
That will likely include a shift to solar and wind power and electric buses, as suggested by members of council.
Administration will be seeking external funding sources, including grants through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, to finance the report and future costs of the commitment.
An amendment to the motion, suggested by Bob Hawkins, was passed and with it, administration will have to come up with four possibilities for improving the environmental sustainability of Regina for implementation in 2023.
The provincial government has promised to have 50 per cent of the province’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2030. SaskPower recently said it is on track to meet that goal.
The motion that was passed in Regina is the first to set a specific goal on renewable energy.
Majority support wind
Swift Current Online - A new poll outlines that the majority of Saskatchewan residents are in favour of wind energy.
The poll was commissioned by the Canadian Wind Energy Association and carried out by Insightrix, a market research company.
Results of the poll show that 84 per cent of residents within the province approve government policies that encourage the development of more wind energy production in Saskatchewan.
The poll also outlined that 78 per cent of people who took the poll said that they would support wind farms near their communities.
SaskPower says that the Centennial Wind Power Facility south of Swift Current was the largest operating wind power facility in the country when it opened in 2006 and is graded as a 150-megawatt facility.
As of August 2018, Saskatchewan houses 143 wind turbines, according to SaskPower.
Last September, the Blue Hill Wind Energy Project - a 177-megawatt wind farm - was approved near the town of Herbert, hoping to be constructed in three years’ time.
Construction on that project is slated to begin in 2019.
Developing and operating Blue Hill is delegated to the Algonquin Power Company.
Saskatoon engineer named to the Order of Canada
CBC News - A Saskatoon engineer who was a key driver in energy efficiency and conservation in homes has been made a member of the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest civilian honours.
Harold Orr, P.Eng. was part of a team that put together the Saskatchewan Conservation House project in 1977 during an acute energy crisis. The team from the Saskatchewan Research Council was tasked with building a solar house that could withstand Saskatchewan’s cold winters and hot summers.
The house in Regina was one of the first buildings to combine airtightness, super insulation and a heat recovery system. That house served as a model and led to national energy conservation protocols for Canadian buildings. The building techniques have now been adopted all over the world.
Saskatoon children’s museum changes name
CBC News - Saskatoon’s Children’s Discovery Museum has undergone a name change prior to it reopening in the Mendel Building.
Now known as the Nutrien Wonderhub. Executive director Amanda McReynolds-Doran said the new name captures what visitors will experience when they visit.
“They are really going to get back in touch with that child-like wonder,” McReynolds-Doran said.
APEGS has been a significant sponsor and supporter of the project from the outset. The museum combines play with education. It will showcase art, science, technology and Saskatchewan culture through hands-on exhibits, programs and community outreach. It’s the only children’s museum in the province.
Work on the museum is about 80 per cent complete. McReynolds-Doran said she expects it to open in late spring.
Regina highlights gender gap in women in science
CJME - Roughly 90 teenage girls from Regina’s Miller High School got a surge of inspiration from women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
A panel was held at the Saskatchewan Science Centre to mark the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, which brings to light the gender gap worldwide in STEM careers.
The United Nations’ latest research shows less than 30 per cent of researchers globally are women. When it comes to female enrollment in post-secondary education in STEM-related fields, statistics are particularly low in information and communications technology (three per cent), natural science, math and statistics (five per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (eight per cent).
When panelist and chemical engineer Tara Zrymiak, P.Eng., FEC convocated from university in 1985, she remembers being one of three women in her class.
Even though the number of women enrolling in post-secondary STEM-related fields is gradually increasing, not much has changed with regards to the ingrained sexism.
“The problems are there and the problems are real,” Zrymiak said, adding oftentimes it comes in the form of off-hand comments.”
“The people saying them don’t even realize what they’re saying and they don’t realize that what they’re saying could offend. If you’re trying to tackle that, then it’s hard when people don’t know it’s even there.”
She said the best thing women experiencing sexism in the workplace can do is communicate how they’re feeling.
Zrymiak said she hopes they took away from the panel that they have the power to change the world.
“Taking science in high school is a great start, but they can dream beyond that and use it to make society be better,” she said.
Engineer among new City of Saskatoon leadership
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - Longtime City of Saskatoon traffic engineer Angela Gardiner, P.Eng. has been named the first leader of a new city hall department.
Gardiner was appointed general manager of the new transportation and construction department.
Her previous permanent post at the city had been director of transportation.
Gardiner began working for the city as a traffic engineer in 2003 after graduating with a master’s degree from the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan.
Moose Jaw ponders engineering help for moose battle
Global News - As far as diplomatic missions go, the international moose summit is one of the more unusual ones. But for the people of Moose Jaw, this is serious business.
The iconic “Mac the Moose” was dethroned as the world’s largest moose four years ago by a rival sculpture in a small Norway municipality - and the Prairies want the crown back.
“We are having an engineer look at Mac,” Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie said. “We have to look at his lifespan and make sure what we do is feasible and structurally sound.”
The city estimated the engineering work would cost $50,000. A GoFundMe campaign has to date raised roughly $14,000. Moosehead Breweries also donated $25,000 to the campaign.
After weeks of tongue-in-cheek trash talk, Linda Henriksen, the deputy mayor of Stor-Elvdal, Norway, landed in the Friendly City to meet Mac and the locals for herself.
Norway’s sculpture stands a mere thirty centimetres taller than Mac. If that happens, Henriksen says they’ll concede defeat and they’re fine with that.v “Of course, we would like to have the biggest moose, but there’s nothing we can do with our moose as it is a piece of art,” she admitted. “We’re friendly people and we just want to show the world we are actually happy if Mac becomes the biggest moose.”
As a compromise, Tolmie is willing to admit Norway’s is better looking than its 30-year-old counterpart.
DOT put through its paces in Arizona fields
Western Producer - DOT is a Saskatchewan-built robotic platform designed to bring autonomous farming to broad acre grain production and Connect is the newly formed company that builds DOT-ready implements, including a sprayer and fertilizer coulter attachment. DOT and Connect have shifted staff to Arizona for the winter to continue research into robotic farming and to prepare to autonomously farm on a broad acre scale this year.
Rick Pattison, president of Pattison Liquid Systems and the newly formed Connect, said the company conducted tests on DOT and the Connect 120-foot sprayer attachment in Arizona from January to March.
“We will have engineers going back and forth through the three months and we’ll have people here, both industry people and farmers, who will be coming to see DOT run in sunny Arizona,” Pattison said.
Pedro Andrade, an associate professor and a precision ag specialist at the University of Arizona who has worked on navigation systems since the early 2000s, said he’s excited to be working with DOT and Connect.
“We are now seeing a new trend moving towards autonomous platforms. I’m an ag engineer myself, I’ve seen many small platforms for very specialized operations and I think that is great technology,” Andrade said.
Nuke centre gets reno funds
Global News - A facility for nuclear innovation at the University of Saskatchewan is receiving a funding boost from the federal and provincial governments. Renovations at the Saskatchewan Centre for Cyclotron Sciences (SCCS) will create specialized labs for researchers working on new drug treatments using medical isotopes.
The Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation (Fedoruk Centre) operates the SCCS, a scientific facility for conducting work with nuclear imaging technologies in the treatment of cancers, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases.
The Fedoruk Centre is getting $2.2 million to renovate and equip its innovation wing of the Saskatchewan Centre for Cyclotron Sciences. The new wing is expected to create at least 50 new jobs and attract around $500,000 worth of business in research and development by 2021.
It will house specialized laboratories which will allow researchers to develop new drugs containing medical isotopes, used to detect and treat cancers and other diseases.
Innovation Saskatchewan is providing $800,000 to support the renovation and equipping of vacant space at the SCCS Innovation Wing.
Provincial government officials said the funding will also support a new imaging lab – the first of its kind in Canada – for studying plants and soil bacteria to improve crop productivity.
Officials said much of the equipment is expected to be in place by spring 2019. The equipment is expected to be commissioned, calibrated and in service by spring 2020.
Located on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan, SCCS supplies radiopharmaceuticals to Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer by nuclear imaging.
Subsurface resources yield treasure for treasury
Global News - The first subsurface mineral public offering in Saskatchewan raised $505,000 for the government.
Officials said a single permit block of more than 8,300 hectares north of Francis was successfully bid on by CanPacific Potash Inc.
The public offerings, which will be held three times yearly. “The introduction of subsurface mineral public offerings makes doing business in Saskatchewan even more efficient, consistent and competitive,” said Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre.
The holder has the right to explore for all-natural mineral salts and their compounds occurring more than 60 metres below land surface.
Subsurface minerals include boron, calcium, lithium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bromine, chlorine, fluorine, iodine, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur. The next public offering will take place on April 23, 2019
Sask. passes gas regs
Regina Leader-Post - The provincial government has enacted regulations to rein in emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps more heat than carbon dioxide.
The regulations put into action a previously announced Methane Action Plan.
The province says the measures will reduce emissions by 4.5 million tonnes. They address emissions from venting and flaring in Saskatchewan’s upstream oil and gas sector and include annual penalties for businesses that fail to comply.
In a press release, the province asserts that the regulations are even stronger than blanket regulations from the federal government.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expressed its support for the regulations, according to the release.
The province’s Methane Action Plan is part of its Prairie Resilience model for addressing climate change, which relies largely upon regulation and reporting requirements aimed at making Saskatchewan better able to adjust to the effects of climate change.
Feds, province reach coal agreement
Global News - The federal government and the government of Saskatchewan have reached an equivalency agreement for carbon dioxide emissions from the province’s coal-fired power fleet.
In short, the agreement allows coal power plants like Boundary Dam 4 and 5 to continue operating until 2021 and 2024 respectively. Without the agreement, the Estevan-based power plants would have to shut down at the end of 2019.
Under this agreement, Estevan’s Shand Power Station would have to shut down in 2030 instead of its original shutdown date, 2042. If the facility receives a carbon-capture and storage (CCS) retrofit it could continue operating past 2030. “Our urge to the federal government would be to be our partner, and help us look at ways we can continue to use coal with CCS beyond 2030 and provide some certainty for those communities, so that’s our intent now,” Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said.
Boundary Dam 3 will be able to keep operating past 2030 because it has CCS. A decision on whether or not to retrofit Shand with the technology is not expected for another four or five years.
In addition to timelines, there are also emission targets built into the equivalency agreement.
Saskatchewan has agreed to meet a commitment to have at least 40 per cent of the province’s electricity generation capacity be from non-emitting energy sources by 2030, by achieving escalating, specified targets.
Drilling quiet in Saskatchewan this year
Estevan Mercury - Saskatchewan’s active drilling rig count usually hits a crescendo in the second half of February, but it wasn’t a very loud one this year.
On February 27, the Rig Locator (riglocator.ca) listed 49 active rigs in Saskatchewan, down two from a few days earlier.
What has usually been the busiest month of the year for drilling activity in Saskatchewan has topped out at half, or less, the level of what it used to be during the boom years. For example, in 2017 there were 72 rigs working at the same time of year.
This is a reflection of the rest of the country, as drilling numbers in Alberta and British Columbia are also markedly down.
In Alberta, the rig count was 145. In 2017, for the same week, it was 226. British Columbia had just 16 rigs working compared to 34 in 2017.
In Saskatchewan, there were 18 oil companies drilling, using 15 different contractors. As usual, Crescent Point Energy Corp. led the nation, with 17 active drilling rigs. All were in Saskatchewan.
Sask. announces $300K for Viking tight oil research
JWN News - The Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) is providing $300,000 in funding to the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) for research to overcome challenging geological features of the Viking tight oil play.
The research has been ongoing for a number of years but is entering a new phase with additional industry partners, PTRC said.
Located in west-central Saskatchewan, the Viking is one of the largest oil plays in North America with an estimated three billion barrels of light, sweet crude in place, but the relative shallowness of the resource limits the application of enhanced oil recovery technologies.
Wells in the Viking often produce no more than 5-15 per cent of the oil in place and production has been on the decline since 2012, according to PTRC. The number of wells drilled in the area, however, continues to go up because of the poor recovery rates.
The program will use modeling and imaging technologies for improved field characterization including a newly acquired industrial scale CT scanner that is housed at SRC’s energy office in Regina.
Government to hike fees for Crown land leases
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - The Saskatchewan government is dramatically increasing the lease fees paid by oil and gas producers operating wells on Crown land, but insists the change was not motivated by a need for extra cash to balance the budget.
The province says it expects to rake in about $25.7 million in surface lease fees next year, up 82 per cent from the $14.1 million it collected in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the last full year for which data is available.
A government spokesman said the changes were driven by a need to harmonize fees charged by three separate ministries and raise them to fair market value after more than a decade with no increases.
The province is also planning to net an additional $1 million by raising roadside development permit fees and $225,000 by hiking the industrial water use charge by 18 per cent.
Sask backs court ruling on abandoned wells
Discover Moose Jaw - Energy companies will remain responsible for the clean up of inactive oil wells in the event of bankruptcy or insolvency, a decision that may save money for consumers.
The Saskatchewan government is backing a recent Supreme Court ruling which prohibits oil companies from abandoning their environmental responsibilities in the event of bankruptcy or insolvency.
After an Alberta based energy company attempted to walk away from inactive wells following insolvency, recent court proceedings established that environmental regulations are to be the responsibility of the oil company in question. In Saskatchewan, when a well is abandoned, the cleanup and environmental responsibilities are in the hands of the Orphan Fund Procurement Program through the provincial government and funded by a levy within the oil and gas industry. In the current fiscal year, the number of orphaned wells rang in at approximately 249, which is slightly higher than in previous years but still manageable through the program.
The cost to properly decommission an orphan well can range from $50,000 to $1 million, with last year’s provincial budget partitioning $4 million for the Orphan Fund Procurement Program.
The Supreme Court may help consumers. If oil companies were able to walk-away from inactive wells and the Orphan Fund Procurement Program saw an increase, that would be reflected back in the levy which would ultimately come out of the pocket of consumers.
Evraz gets $40 million in federal money
Regina Leader-Post - The federal government is contributing $40 million to Evraz’s three-year, $112-million investment in its Regina and Red Deer facilities. The contribution will support 2,100 jobs in both communities as the industry grapples with devastating U.S. steel tariffs.
The lion’s share of the funding will go to electrical upgrades for an electric arc furnace, which melts down scrap metal. That will allow Evraz to reduce both its costs per tonne of steel as well as its emissions.v Company representatives also emphasized the need for pipeline projects to increase steel demand in Canada. The company has previously warned that halted pipeline projects and notably a stop to the Trans Mountain expansion, could mean layoffs at the Regina plant.