Coal Trains still coming back to Vancouver Island?

Certainly looks like it.

A few months ago there were some articles online about a company looking to get the rights to and then mine coal near Courtney here on Vancouver Island. It caused quite a stir, particularly in the rail community as the company directly mentioned the close proximity to the E&N and the deep sea port at Port Alberni in its literature.

Well, even though the economy has gone in the tank, it seems as though things are still proceeding.

In February and March, Compliance Energy Corporation went through and signed a partnership in the project with I-Comox Coal Inc a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation and LG International Investments (Canada) Ltd. a subsidiary of LG International Corp. They also signed a deal with West Fraser Mills, the original holders of the land to purchase around 29,000 hectares near Buckley Bay and Courtney.

Below is an overview map of the area… with the “Bear” area just south of Cumberland and Comox Lake and the “Raven” area nearer Buckley Bay.

View Larger Map

The Main find that includes Metallurgic (iron/steel) grade coal is in the bottom middle of the image, near where it says “Comox Strathcona A”. This terrain view is easiest to see where the claim is as it relates to surrounding communities. The entire flat area between the water and where the mountain hills start from Fanny Bay in the South to Comox Lake in the North is the general area of the plot.

Here is a slide from a recent presentation given by CEC.

Presentation Screen Cap of VI Coal interests
You can see the various interests CEC has, with Raven being the one considered most profitable.

Their latest filings show that they are still actively pursuing the Raven project.

CEC has provided $7 Million to its Asian backers to “fund all of the activities necessary to reach a production decision on the Raven Coal Project.”

Notice that they said “production decision”, which is quite different from production itself. That said, they seem very optimistic on both the quality and marketability of the project. Other documents say they are hoping to have their first shipments in 2011 or 2012… but this little paragraph in their latest filing indicates there are financial pressures coming to bear that are not unrelated to the wider economy.

The Company will continue to require funds and as a result, will have to continue to rely on equity and debt financing. There can be no assurance that financing, whether debt or equity, will always be available to the Company in the amount required at any particular time. Management is of the opinion that sufficient working capital will be obtained from external financing sources to meet the Company’s liabilities as they come due.

So we’ll see what happens here. The partners in the project, ITOCHU and LG, are multi-billion dollar players in the asian coal and steel industry, so their financial well being is not in doubt. What is in doubt with whether this small company, lead by CEO John Tapics (out of Alberta electricity/coal sector, click for more on the Board), can make this happen, and more importantly, sell it to Island residents.

BC Election 2009… Polls Close… continuing coverage tonight

Generally… I’m already depressed about the possible result. But I’m going to remain optimistic.

I’ve put this post in the categories of Climate Change and Peak Oil because I think the coming decade, 2010-2020, will be pivotal, crucial, in the development of BC and of humanity as a whole as both of those challenges come to a head.

Woohoo! 8:19PM! the NDP is winning 3-1 with like 40 votes counted! 😉

8:22PM…. holy crap! 8 to 2! It’s gonna be a landslide!!

8:27PM… OK, so as the early returns come in I just want to include a prediction of our vote in the our riding of Alberni-Pacific. I think our riding will be closer than it was last election when Scott Fraser of the NDP won, but I do think that the result will favour the incumbent Scott Fraser. Ms. St. Jaques will likely do well in Ucluelet where she was mayor as well as pockets in central Port Alberni and the rural Alberni Valley. Mr. Fraser will carry the majority of Alberni polls though and will do better in the Coombs and Errington areas.

8:33PM… 23 to 17 for NDP

8:38PM… 35 to 34 for Lib

8:43PM… at this early time, Scott Fraser is leading in our riding. You can see the results as they come in to Elections BC here.

8:53PM… Nanaimo looks to be going NDP at this point. There’s nothing out of Parksville-Qualicum yet.

8:59PM… I will be surprised if CTV (which is who I am watching as far as elections coverage) doesn’t call the election for the Liberals at 9:00PM or very soon after.

9:03PM… There you go… CTV has projected a Liberal government…. interestingly… the CBC has not projected a winner yet.

9:06PM… Joy McPhail on CTV is wondering aloud about the results in the Northern Interior expressing her surprise that the early results are so pro-Liberal considering the devastation of the forest industry. I have two words for her that explains everything… Carole James.

9:09PM… Have the biases of one station and others ever been clearer? The CBC still continues to hold its election predictions while the CTV is practically gleeful in its interviews of happy Liberals and sad NDP’ers.

9:15PM… the first results for STV are starting to trickle in and they are looking very bad. I’m not surprised… this is going to be a long and depressing night indeed.

9:18PM… and finally the CBC is now reporting a Liberal Majority government.

9:19PM… on a positive note, Scott Fraser looks to have wiped out Dianne St. Jaques in Alberni-Clayoquot. He has double the votes (2400 to 1400) right now.

9:23PM… the BC-STV results are looking very poor…

% of valid votes province-wide in favour of BC-STV 40.33% (need 60)

Number of electoral districts with 50% or more of the valid votes cast in favour of BC-STV 3 (need 70)

9:34PM… It’s going to be a pretty upset office tomorrow. And nervous… now that the election is over, the budget will finally be released for Vancouver Island University. We don’t expect good news.

9:50PM… Probably the most depressing statement, and most accurate, that I’ve heard on the analysis tonight was just now from the CBC panel. In both the election and the referendum on STV, the voters of BC look to have strongly voted for the status quo.

That just destroys a lot of hope that I had for the future.

I’m going to keep monitoring it, but needless to say, I’m very disappointed…. and not terribly motivated to blog about it now.

The Anatomy of Oil Decline

I spend a lot of words talking about oil decline without explaining what it is or how it works… well. If you’re looking for a slightly more technical take… here’s one on Cantarell.(Gerson Lehrman Group)

An average well in 1981 would produce 29,000 bbl/day. Development continued with production coming from many of the fields including Ixtoc, but as flow rates fell, gas lift equipment was installed. By 1995, the average well would produce 7,000 bbl/day. The gas lift program was expanded and by 1999, total production from the complex was 1.4 million bbl/day.


Had there been no pressure maintenance installation, by 2004, production per well would have been about 3,200 bbl/day.
Pemex decided to inject nitrogen gas into the dome of Cantarell. That began in May of 2000 at an initial rate of 300 million cubic feet/day and was expanded through the year with a total of four stages to 1,200 million cubic feet/day.
The original estimate of reserves was 17 billion barrels but this was raised to 19.3 after the nitrogen gas had pushed the original oil/water contact back to its original position. By 12/31/2006, cumulative production was 16.6 billion barrels. In 2004, the complex produced 2.136 million bbl/day which declined to 1.525 million by 2007. Production declines as the expanding gas cap intersects the well bores.

Today the end is near with expectations that Cantarell will become uneconomic as early as 2014 and no later than 2019.

Newt Gingrich can’t Count (oil) he’s dangerous.

Today the House Energy Committee got a visit from Al Gore… and he ruffled some feathers… especially those of Mr. Gingrich.

Here’s his response

He says that Al Gore presented “misleading ascertions”.

Newt says…

[Al Gore] said for example, the rate of new discoveries, is falling for energy. That’s factually not true.

Actually, Newt, it is true. And it has been true for over 60 years… and here’s the proof Newt:


In 1965, 60 Billion barrels of conventional oil were discovered.

But Newt goes on:

In the last 3 years we have found (who is we?) have found 100 years of Natural Gas in the United States

That’s nice Newt. If I took only one sip out of a coke bottle every day then it might last 100 years as well. The question Newt, is not the amount, it is the rate. How much of the 20 million barrels of oil that the US consumes in a day can that “new natural gas” displace.

The answer, according to the US Energy Information Administration (PDF), is very little.

From 2004 – 2007, 46 Trillion Cubic Feet of “Proved Reserves” were added. Yet Estimated Production only grew by 0.2 Trillion cubic feet a year… the US consumed 23 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas in 2007

The picture for oil and oil substitutes like Natural Gas Liquids is even more grim:

From 2004 – 2007, 1.6 Billion Barrels of Crude Oil Equivalent were discovered of Natural Gas Liquids reserves. Yet estimated Production grew by 4 million barrels a year. That equates to 11,000 barrels of oil a day… roughly 0.06% of the daily 18 million barrel consumption in the US.

And finally, for crude oil…

From 2004 – 2007, -547 million barrels. Repeat. Negative 547 Million Barrels of crude oil were “discovered”….. in other words, we used it up faster than we discovered new stuff. Which brings us back to the graph above, the graph that matters.

Production of crude oil in the United States was 1.8 Billion barrels in 2004, and 1.7 in 2007. That’s a drop of 100 Million Barrels of oil a year or 0.5%.


I hope that clarifies things for you Newt. The party is over. I know you’ll never accept it… probably not even when either your country collapses under its own debt to oil producing countries, or riots erupt from gas shortages and skyrocketing prices… but at least there are some who get it.

And by the way, from 1997 to 2007 total estimated production of Crude Oil plus Natural Gas Liquids went from 3 Billion Barrels of oil a year, to 2.5 Billion Barrels. A drop of 16%.

Brazil can’t save you Newt. Even without the current global recession, production from the new Brazilian finds wasn’t going to reach its full potential of 1.1 Million barrels a day (400 Million a year) until, wait for it, 2017.

Lets see.. in another 10 years we will likely drop another 16%… another 500 Million a year… much more than Brazil could provide, if even it all went to the US, which it won’t.

You’re dangerous Newt. You’re Dangerous!

Hey BC NDP’ers: Al Gore wants Cap and Trade…. plus Carbon Tax

This at least makes me feel a little better about Carole James cynical opportunism….

If you don’t feel like clicking (come on, it’s only 1 1/2 minutes long!)… at a Senate Hearing discussing what sort of Climate policy and bill the US Congress should pass, a Senator mentioned that a Carbon Tax is a Carbon Tax, but a Cap and Trade system is a “huge tax” as well.

To this, Al Gore said… a Carbon Tax is a tax, and Cap and Trade is expensive, but he actually supports HAVING BOTH… first the Cap and Trade, to encourage a global market and get more countries into the system… and then a revenue neutral Carbon Tax to further encourage reductions.

I’ll just close my eyes and believe that Carole James is really just in Al Gores head… it’s all good. Right?

On another note… Al Gore also directly mentioned Peak Oil in his comments to Senate leaders today… unfortunately it’s not in the video linked above, but the other rumour going around is that there some sort of “An Inconvenient Truth 2” focused on Peak Oil is in the works.

Hey Al? Can you hurry it up please? Thanks.

Here’s another opinion on the NDPs plan.