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.
Mars lander features SK chain mail skirt
CBC News - Most people involved in the successful deployment of the Mars InSight lander were on the edge of their seats as the spacecraft made its precarious journey to the surface of the Red Planet.
Not Saskatoon entrepreneur and mechanical engineer Bernice Daniels. “I was actually busy and I forgot,” Daniels confessed.
Daniels is a co-founder of chain-mail company The Ring Lord. In her defence, the Saskatoon-based company’s work with NASA happened back in 2013 and there was no guarantee that the parts they helped produce would ever make it to Mars. When news of the successful landing hit, Daniels started poking around to find out if her company’s contribution had ended up being a part of the long journey to another world.
Insight is scheduled to spend the next two years measuring seismic activity and magnetic fields on the Red Planet. It will also take Mars’s interior temperature. Some of InSight’s sensitive instruments need protection. The Ring Lord’s chain mail is perfect for the job.
“Insight has a skirt that hangs down on the bottom of it, basically hugging the dirt,” said Daniels.
InSight travelled almost 500 million kilometres on its indirect trip to Mars. The Ring Lord stakes its claim on Mars indirectly. NASA contacted an off-shoot company, founded by some of Daniels’ former employees, called MailleTec Industries. That company built InSight’s protective skirt with materials purchased from The Ring Lord.
NASA is not The Ring Lords first high-profile customer. The company has also worked with Boeing and SpaceX, Daniels said.
The Ring Lord also helps create costumes for film and television. The business has grown so much they now have a massive manufacturing plant in Toronto.
Halloween coup for eng. students ‘tanks’ to duct tape
CTV Saskatoon - Engineering students at the University of Saskatchewan learned you can make pretty much anything with some cardboard and duct tape. A group of friends had planned to go as a group for their annual Engineering Halloween party and with a shared interest in building things one decided they should make the costume themselves.
“It’s pretty hard to find a six-person group costume, so he said, ‘You know what? I think we all have a common interest in tanks. What if we built a tank and brought it to the party?” said Ben Cloutier, a civil engineering intern. So the group paid a visit to their local recycling depot and collected cardboard.
“We kind of know a little bit about how structural design works, so it was just a matter of trying to get the cardboard into shapes where it wouldn’t bend and it would be stiff enough to carry the weight,” said Alex Pulvermacher, a third-year engineering student.
The six-person costume, a replica German tank, took a couple weeks and about 30 man-hours to make. It weighs about 100 pounds, according to Pulvermacher. The tank is also equipped with a fully functioning air gun.
“It can go pretty far. We shot it and it went a couple hundred yards, so it’s pretty powerful,” said Pulvermacher.
Ironically, Humboldt tribute a highway safety hazard
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - Sixteen people died and another 13 were injured when the Humboldt Bronco’s bus collided with a tractor-trailer north of Tisdale on April 6.
Since then, a makeshift memorial to the victims has sprung up at the intersection. Hockey sticks, messages and other items have been left at the site.
A consulting firm hired by the provincial government to conduct a safety review of the intersection noted that the makeshift memorial at the site will likely draw visitors for decades.
As a result, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. engineer Cory Wilson, P.Eng., recommended that “a more permanent installation be considered at a safer location,” set back far enough to protect pedestrians.
In an interview, the RM of Connaught deputy reeve said it made sense for the municipality to offer the site at the corner of Highway 335 and Highway 35, which was formerly occupied by a gas station.
The father of 18-year-old Evan Thomas, who died in the crash, said the parents of players and team personnel have been talking about memorials for some time — and he already has a preference.
The roadside memorial “took on a life of its own” and should not be moved far from its current location, he said. If necessary, the speed limit should be reduced to ensure pedestrians are safe, Scott Thomas said.
“That spot to me is hallowed ground.”
SK Engineer advocates water infrastructure
Western Producer - An advocate of developing Saskatchewan’s water resources says the province would do well to access a federal fund and start building water infrastructure.
Wayne Clifton, P.Eng., senior principal at Clifton Associates, said money available through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation fund could be used to further develop infrastructure around Lake Diefenbaker.
As a civil engineer for decades, Clifton has watched the climate change and said water management is key to dealing with disasters.
“Science says clearly that the world is warming and that our frequency of precipitation and runoff is much more variable,” he said. “It will require intervention by humankind if we are to preserve and utilize our water resources.” Lake Diefenbaker’s potential in that adaptation is key, he added.
The province’s agricultural irrigators have long backed expanding their sector and a feasibility study done several years ago pointed to the ability to open up more irrigable land while better serving the Moose Jaw-Regina corridor through an Upper Qu’Appelle conveyance project.
It would take water from the south end of Lake Diefenbaker to Buffalo Pound Lake.
Clifton said irrigation hasn’t expanded much beyond the initial agreement in the 1960s when the Gardiner Dam was built and Lake Diefenbaker formed.
“There’s been no movement on that since,” he said. “We have not exploited it at all on the irrigation side or the agricultural side.”
“It’s expensive but it’s also perpetual,” Clifton said. “Once in place, it becomes a part of the sustainable infrastructure for the economy.”
He added that he has long advocated for investment in water and said it should equal investment in transportation systems.
U of S finds U.S. water supply smaller
Science Daily - The U.S. groundwater supply is smaller than originally thought, according to a new research study.
The study provides important insights into the depths of underground fresh and brackish water in some of the most prominent sedimentary basins across the U.S. The research by scientists from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Arizona and the University of California, Santa Barbara was published November 14, 2018 in Environmental Research Letters.
Drilling deeper wells may not be a good long-term solution to compensate for increasing demands on groundwater.
The study showed there is potential for contamination of deep fresh and brackish water in areas where the oil and gas industry injects wastewaters into or in close depth proximity to aquifers.
To find out how deep potable groundwater extends, the scientists analyzed water chemistry data from the U.S. Geological Survey for 28 key sedimentary basins in the U.S. and looked at the correlation between water well depths and the depth to the transition between fresh and brackish water.
Until now, the focus has been on monitoring dropping water tables, said lead author Grant Ferguson B.Sc., Ph.D., P.Geo., Eng.L., principal investigator of the University of Saskatchewan-led Global Water Futures project.
The new research found the average depth of transition from fresh to brackish groundwater in the U.S. overall is about 1,800 feet, which contradicts previous studies suggesting that fresh groundwater extends down to 6,500 feet.
“There are a number of cases where potentially you could go a kilometre or so deep for fresh groundwater, but there are other areas of the United States where maybe a maximum of 200 or 300 metres you would run into saline groundwater - essentially you would be done in terms of water resources,” said Ferguson, an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan.
Based on their findings for the U.S., the authors suggest the amount of fresh groundwater available globally may also be less than previously thought. They note that an estimated more than five billion people live in water-scarce areas, many of which rely on groundwater and where, in some cases, significantly more water has been taken out of a groundwater basin than is coming in.
SRC defends uranium clean-up
CBC Saskatchewan - The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) is defending its work on the cleanup of an abandoned uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan, following Ottawa’s claim that the SRC’s plans are “not cost-effective” and an estimated cleanup cost that’s more than 10 times the original projection. In 2006, the province and the federal government signed an agreement to split the cost of cleanup for the abandoned Gunnar mine, estimated at the time to be $24.6 million.
The costs have now ballooned to an estimated $280 million, of which the province says the federal government has contributed $1.13 million. The government of Saskatchewan has sued Ottawa to get the rest of the money it says the federal government promised.
In September of 2006, the SRC was asked by the province to work on the Gunnar site and 36 satellite sites. The SRC is now on the ground, beginning the actual cleanup process at Gunnar and some of the satellite sites.
In 1953, employees started moving to the Gunnar mine townsite. Five years later, there were two apartment buildings, 86 homes, a school, a hospital and even a bowling alley and curling rink. The mine supplied refined uranium yellowcake that was an essential ingredient for U.S. atomic weapons.
The mine closed in 1963 and the mill operations closed in 1964.
What’s left behind now is a big mess.
It sat from then until the SRC recently started the cleanup. Part of the problem is that in the 1950s and 1960s, regulatory oversight didn’t exist the way it does today.
The crews found many contaminants, including hazardous waste, PCBs in transformers, batteries, 25 drums of yellowcake (a type of uranium concentrate powder), a huge inventory of asbestos and tailing ponds.
To date, the province has spent $125 million cleaning up the mine and its satellite sites. The province said the federal government’s $1.13 million contribution covers Phase 1 of the project.
The federal government highlighted that the original agreement signed in 2006 stated Saskatchewan would manage the project in a timely and cost-effective manner, with no cost overruns. The feds also pointed out that the mine was not regulated by the government of Canada.
Feds invest in farm GHG mitigation
PoultrySite.com - The Government of Canada announced support for three cutting-edge projects by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources, School of Environment and Sustainability and the Global Institute for Water Security, to help the agriculture sector reduce its environmental footprint.
These projects include a $3.4 million investment through the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program, to conduct research into greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm.
Studies through this funding include researchers looking at different pasture management practices and testing different mixtures of forage plants to reduce the amount of GHG’s released into the air. Another study will help farmers decide on the best options for planting shelterbelts, including both farmyard and field shelterbelts, to reduce GHG emissions. Researchers are also looking at ways to reduce GHG released from water storage reservoirs as part of an overall on-farm water management plan.
Moosomin’s IJAcK is changing pumpjacks
Pipeline News - He was working on designing farm equipment when Dan McCarthy, P.Eng. came up with an idea for a new pumping unit to replace the venerable walking beam pumpjack.
Now, his company, IJACK Technologies Inc., has been gaining market share in Manitoba and has since branched into two other products for gas compression. Most of this has happened during the worst oil downturn seen in decades. IJACK Technologies Inc. is based in Redvers and is currently working out of a shop just down Highway 1 at Wapella. That’s going to be changing soon, however, as the company is building a brand new and much larger facility on the north edge of Moosomin.
The company was incorporated in 2010 and started actively selling its hydraulic jack, the UNO, in 2013.
McCarthy grew up on a mixed grain and cattle farm south of Moosomin.
“I’m from the agriculture world. I didn’t know anything about the poor reputation of hydraulic jacks,” he said, noting hydraulic jacks have been around for a long time. As such, he came at the concept with a fresh perspective. McCarthy had never worked in oilfield maintenance, either.
McCarthy isn’t coming at this as a tinkering inventor, but as a professional engineer with a degree in industrial systems engineering from the University of Regina, where he graduated in 2006.
Indeed, he is now part of a family of engineers, as McCarthy’s wife, Olga, is an industrial engineer, as are her two parents and sister.
PTRC celebrates 20 years
Pipeline News - As the story goes, 20 years ago, then-Saskatchewan Minister of Energy and Mines Eldon Lautermilch and Ralph Goodale, who was then federal Minister of Natural Resources, were having a smoke in Kirghizstan. Over cigarettes, they decided on the need to push for petroleum research in Saskatchewan.
“This landed squarely on my desk,” recalled Dr. Malcolm Wilson back in 2009, then director of the Office of Energy and Environment at the University of Regina. He recalled being told, “Malcolm, create a petroleum research facility.” Thus began the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC), a not-for-profit research company located in a dedicated building at Innovation Place in Regina, beside the university.
“From nothing in 1998, by 2002 the University of Regina had the largest petroleum engineering program in Canada,” Wilson said in 2009. The creation of that program was largely because of funding provided through the PTRC and its public and private sector partners.
In later years (2011 to 2013) Wilson would head up the PTRC, the organization whose purpose is to help figure out how to get as much of Saskatchewan’s oil out of the ground as possible, with a particular focus on our billions of barrels of heavy oil.
The PTRC celebrated its 20th year in operation last November.
Most of the PTRC’s work has focused on heavy oil, but the use of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery became a key area of research when the Weyburn oil field in southern Saskatchewan began to inject it in 2000 and the resulting Weyburn-Midale Project garnered strong industry interest.v Wilson, who was one of the scientists responsible for the first report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knew that using CO2 for oil recovery was a win-win for Saskatchewan. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.
In more recent years, under the direction of new CEO Dan MacLean, the PTRC has turned some of its attention to light oil, particularly the hard-to-access deposits in the Bakken and Viking formations in southern Saskatchewan.
SK injects funds into injection
CJME - The provincial government is looking to keep oil money in Saskatchewan and get even more, with a new incentive program for waterflooding injection wells.
The program would allow oil companies to defer royalties for wells which they convert to waterflooding injection or new such wells that are drilled. Waterflooding involves injecting water into the well to increase pressure and push more oil out.
The incentive would allow the company to keep the royalties they would be paying the government and use the money for more investment.
It’s a royalty deferral for three years – not a reduction or break.
Representatives from a few different oil companies were at the announcement in support of the program.
Jenson Tan is the vice-president of business development at Vermillion Energy. He said the company is excited about the incentive because it’s looking to invest $225 million in light oil assets in southeast Saskatchewan and $30 million on waterflood and enhanced recovery assets.
Tan called the program a positive action by the province.
According to the provincial government, the program will support $375 million in new investment over the next five years at maximum uptake. It’s also expected to lead to about $245 million in new provincial royalties over 10 years.