Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Next Great Recession - probably coming in 2012

Over a year ago I wrote a blog entry which speculated that the relationship between peak oil and economic growth would result in another major recession - on the scale of 2008 - that would occur in 2010 or 2011. Yesterday I took some time to review the International Energy Agencies data on oil supply and demand and quickly learned that we are living on borrowed time again. For the few quarters oil demand has outpaced supply and the emergency oil reserves held by the industrialized countries are being depleted.

Today I found this interesting article on Limits to Growth which contends that 2012 will be a very bad year due to Peak Oil, food prices, Chinese debt, etc.

Looks like my prediction may have been off by a year or so...

The Oil Drum | Are We Reaching “Limits to Growth”?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jan's reaction to Occupy Vancouver

My wife, Jan Porter-Hirsche and I were on the mainland this weekend and while I was busy with other obligations, Jan went downtown to experience day 1 of Occupy Vancouver. These are her impressions...

My impressions visiting “Occupy Vancouver” Day 1: Perfect weather. The energy was vibrant; all ages; a deep and rewarding sense of percolating possibility; a call to generous community. There was a drum circle, a meditation circle, a Kids play zone, a few tents, banners, signs, info centres (, good looking food, BC Civil Liberties observers, lots of police in casual attitude frequently approached by demonstrators and exchanging friendly greetings. As speaker’s shared messages, the crowd responded not with affirming noise but with silent (hand waving) applause. At the centre an intentionally expansive and inclusive, very patient message crafting process was underway... (As if called to be "loving, hopeful and optimistic!")

Occupy Vancouver Day 3: Still gorgeous weather. More pensive energy, many more tents, far fewer people, but much easier to converse and investigate how well organized this is and how well it is progressing! We also discovered a Uranium company (Boss Power Corp) is suing the BC government for $60 million for interfering in its potential profits (trial begins tomorrow). We were encouraged to join the gathering in support of the families of Missing Women held a couple of blocks away but it was wrapping up as we got there.

Back home today sorting ripening garden veg and apples that Keith is taking to Occupy Victoria today. I need to progress a bit on some research for university but am looking forward to participating and seeing how all this goes!

Boss vs BC: ( or

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why is our Government so willing to build pipelines to ship our jobs out of the country?

Once again, Peter Lougheed - the architect of Alberta's Conservative dynasty is speaking out about the management of Alberta's oilsands. He argues that Alberta is the owner of the resource and should get its' fair share. The natural resources should provide jobs and benefits for the people of Alberta and the rest of Canada.

Why do Stephen Harper's government and the Alberta neo-conservatives disagree?

The Tyee – Nikiforuk: Yes, Refine Oil Sands Crude Right Here

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Response from Minister of Natural Resources: Hon. Joe Oliver

About 2 weeks ago I received a reply to my open letter to Stephen Harper about the economic and environmental cost of our current National Energy Policy (2010). The reply has come from Joe Oliver (Minister of Natural Resources) and it appears that someone has read at least part of my letter.

In fact, they rightly call me on my statement that states that "selling Alberta's bitumen to Asia will only benefit Alberta and its' multi-national corporate partners". I would have been much more accurate if I would have stated that "selling Alberta's bitumen will overwhelmingly benefit Alberta and their corporate partners" while the rest of Canada bears the majority of the risks.

It also seems that Mr. Oliver - or whoever answered my letter - also missed the part where I stated that I am Albertan by background and that I have a long career in the oil and gas industry. Otherwise, I think they would have written less or taken the time to be more accurate. More on this in my upcoming reply.

For the time being, here is the response from Minister Oliver's office.

Mr. W. Keith Hirsche
1161 Chapman Road
Cobble Hill, British Columbia VOR 1L7

Dear Mr. Hirsche:
The Prime Minister's office has forwarded to me a copy of your correspondence of
July 19, 2011, regarding Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines project
(the Project) and the need to move towards a sustainable energy future.

You indicated that the profits and rewards associated with selling Alberta's bitumen to
Asia will only benefit the province and its multinational corporate partners. However, there
are numerous benefits associated with Canada's oil and natural gas industries. According to
Statistics Canada, in 2010, Canada's petroleum exports (e.g., crude oil, petroleum products
and natural gas) accounted for 21 percent of all exports and are a key component of Canada's
merchandise trade surplus with the outside world. This surplus benefits all Canadians.

In addition, the oil and gas industry provides an important source of revenue for governments
via royalties, federal and provincial land taxes, and land sales. The four provincial
governments that control most of Canada's oil and natural resource production (Alberta,
Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador) also contribute billions
of dollars each year to Canadian provinces in the form of equalization payments.

Oil and natural gas are used to produce thousands of products, from petrochemicals to
building supplies to plastics. Direct and indirect employment from Canada's upstream
oil and gas industry is estimated at 500,000 jobs.

Currently, Alberta's oil sands account for 52 percent of Canada's oil production. The
Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that, over the next 25 years, the Canadian
oil sands industry alone could generate more than 900,000 jobs and inject more than
$2.1 trillion into the Canadian economy. Clearly, benefits from Alberta's oil sands
development accrue all across Canada.

With respect to the Project, given its complexity and interest in it from Canadians and
First Nations groups, the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, referred
the Project for a panel review. The Project will be thoroughly reviewed by a three-member
Joint Panel (the Panel) to satisfy the requirements of both the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act. The Panel's broad environmental
assessment mandate covers the review of the pipelines, the terminal, the docking facilities
at Kitimat, and the marine transportation portion of the pipelines project.

The Panel recently issued its hearing order and will commence community hearings in
January 2012, followed by final hearings in June 2012. The Panel's review is open to all
interested parties, and information on participation is available on the Panel's Web site
at The Panel's findings will include an
environmental assessment report, including recommendations, for Minister Kent and,
subsequently, a determination of whether the Project is in the public interest. If the Panel
finds the Project in the public interest, the Government of Canada will make the final
decision regarding whether the Project can proceed.

You also noted a concern regarding tanker traffic associated with the Project.
I would like to stress that safety, security and environmental stewardship are of paramount
importance for transportation regulation, including tanker traffic in Canadian waters. Under
federal and provincial law, tankers are free to travel to and from British Columbia ports and
do so currently, safely importing and exporting crude oil and petroleum products.

The shipping of crude oil and petroleum products by tanker is governed by the Canada
Shipping Act, which is administered by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of
Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities. Should you have any other questions or
comments on matters related to tanker traffic on the British Columbia coast, I recommend
you contact Minister Lebel directly.

Finally, regarding the need to move towards a sustainable energy future, the Government
is committed to growing Canada's clean energy advantage. In fact, the ecoENERGY Retrofit
- Homes program was recently renewed to allow homeowners to make their homes more
energy-efficient. Earlier this year, Budget 2011 announced the ecoENERGY Innovation
Initiative, a new program that supports energy technology innovation with a view to produce
and use energy in a cleaner and more efficient way. These initiatives are key components of
the government's action to achieve real emissions reductions, while maintaining Canada's
economic advantage and its ability to create jobs for Canadians.

Thank you for writing on these important matters.
Yours sincerely,
The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.e., M.P.