Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Oilsands optimism on the downslide

The oilsands continue to take public relations hits across the globe. Just recently the Keystone pipeline leaked yet again making for the forth pipeline leak in relation to oilsands pipelines in the last 2 months, 2 of which occured in Alberta. In the midst of all of the bad public relations it seems a very important long term trend has been overlooked: Canada has significantly decreased it's expected oilsands output.

In 2005 the alberta government released a video of their current plans for Alberta's oil economy:

The video makes an estimate that Canadian oil output will be 5million barrels per day by 2030, however just recently the Guardian released an article about Canadian oilsands which contains an interesting little blurb:
Output will increase five-fold to 5m barrels of dirty oil a day by 2040.
Now obviously this author is biased against oilsands oil, and in being so could have his facts wrong. He doesn't source where this output estimate comes from. If he is correct however, that means in the last 6 years, Alberta (and Canada) have significantly lowered their output expectations.

Going by Alberta's original video, over a period of 25 years we would see gains of about 140000 barrels per year. But if the 2040 estimation can be believed we will be seeing a yearly increase of only 100000 barrels per year over a period of 29 years. (Calculations based off 1.5m barrels / day in 2005, 2m barrels / day today).

So what could this indicate? Well for one, it indicates that prior to 2008 economic turbulence probably was not considered by the Alberta Government. Indeed their attitude at the time was "We're in a boom, we have money, it'll never end!", well until it did end that is. It tells us that Canada is overly-optimistic of their production capacity during a time when the input costs are an unknown (the gas and water and electricity needed to power the oilsands operations).

With an estimate of 5m barrels by 2040, I am now forced to lower my estimates of a peak of 3.5m barrels in 2020 to 3m barrels in 2015. We'll never reach the 5million mark, as oil price lead depressions will destroy demand as soon as any sort of production ramps up, causing the sorts of shutdowns we saw in 2008/2009.

Alberta, you need a new plan, and Canada: we'll never become an energy super-power if we expect to get our energy from the energy intensive, unstable, and fiscally impossible oilsands industry.

* Update: Changed calculation results from fractions to whole barrels produced.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Canada's Economy: The Good, The Bad, and the Bullshit.

Seems to be a lot of confusion out there about why exactly Canada's economy isn't entirely under water like the rest of the world. Is it Conservative policy, was it Liberal policy? No one seems to really know, and both parties claim it was their doing.

Reality Check: The people make the economy and not the politicians. So in this article I will explain to you why our economy is currently percieved as being stable (which in reality it is not anymore stable than the currencies we depend on).

Canadians have all heard the stories about how "stable" our banking system is. The reality couldn't be further from the truth and a little known fact is our banks were bailed out by the U.S. Federal Reserve. This was an under the table deal which was only revealed this year and it was on top of the Canadian stimulus package put forth by the Harper Government and the Liberals. It coincidently didn't make Canadian news, and I'm sure most people reading this never heard about it. You were never meant to hear about it as it would fly directly in the face of the 'deep integration' plans currently underway.

Now I know my detractors will point at the "AAA" rating of our banks in the article and simply say they were just looking for more profit, so let me remind you the banks that failed in the U.S. all had "AAA" ratings. Rating agencies are run by the ratees. This should be obvious given that the S&P is only just now warning about U.S. debt even though U.S. debt has been a problem for awhile. The S&P is only now saying something because their credibility is being seriously questioned by those who bought into the USD koolaid.

So what's so great about the Canadian economy? Well we export resources, and this isn't because of political policy in the last few years. We are one of the few energy exporting countries left, in fact just recently Russia announced it would be cutting off petroleum exports in the month of May. This is just one more sign that the dawn of the post-petroleum age has begun due to peak oil.

What is bad about our economy? Well, about 60% of our economy relies on trade with the U.S. We give them valuable resources, and they give us USD. Unfortunately the USD continues to push towards record lows due to the QE programs while gold continues to push for new record highs. So what exactly is Canada getting for it's valuable resources? Not much. We are trading resources that are only increasing in value, for worthless digital paper that is not worth the paper it's not printed on, and is also decreasing in value. Sound like a good deal to you? Well it gets better.

What does Canada use to import pretty well everything? USD. Unfortunately for us, China has begun dumping the USD meaning that as our politicians push for more integrated trade between the U.S. and Canada, the rest of the world is trying to figure out how to dump the U.S. and not get stuck holding the empty bag. Canada will be the empty bag holder, as none of our politicians have the political will to say no to the United States. In other words, all 4 politicians telling us the economy will be fine are completely full of shit. We have no control over the economy, we are an exporting nation. This means as long as there are buyers, we can be sellers -- but if no one is buying, we won't be selling. We experienced this briefly in 2008 before the U.S. initiated the TARP programs.

So Canada, we have a big decision ahead of us. Do we decouple the CAD from the USD, effectively cutting off trade with them, but returning our dollar to a reasonable value? Or do we keep the trade going by devaluing our own currency and thrusting 8% or more inflation on Canadian citizens. I'll be honest, neither option is without it's downfalls. We will not escape this crisis pain-free.

* Updated | 11/09/2011:The decision is now ahead of us. As I predicted when I wrote this article on April 30th (posted just after midnight on May 1st), Canada is faced with a decision on whether to break the peg to the USD. Raising interest rates would prevent the inflation I mentioned (for a time) at the cost of our exports to the United States. However, as I mentioned in 'Miss Canada' our political "leaders" have no political will and this probably won't happen. This includes the NDP which voted alongside the Liberals and Conservatives to continue our illegal war against Lybia, in which we are actually backing Al-Qaeda. They are all puppets.

* Updated | 18/09/2011: Surprise, surprise, the truth about Canadian banks is coming out. Like I said, our banks are only as stable as the currencies we depend on. Look around the world... all of them are failing.

Canada is a country in economic denial.