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Blowout Week 241

Blowout Week 241

This week’s lead story features YouTube, which is fighting what it considers to be the misinformation  on videos posted by global warming dissenters with fact-checking boxes (inset), with the data sourced from Wikipedia. We continue with Saudi Arabia’s oil production – is it up or down?; the Saudi/Canada standoff; US LNG and Nord Stream 2; coal in Poland and China; nuclear in France and India; the Laos hydro dam collapse; Australia’s national energy guarantee; the hydrogen-to-ammonia “breakthrough”; renewables to power Blockchain; renewables and the UK capacity market; subsidies for UK SMRs; climate change to cause more windless periods and how to save the planet – give up meat.

Mail: YouTube places Wikipedia entries below videos ‘refuting evidence of global warming’

YouTube is fighting back against climate change deniers by implementing a fact-checking box below user-uploaded videos on the controversial topic.

The system will surface information from Wikipedia or Britannica Encyclopedia to display factual information in bitesize chunks below videos on climate change. The feature is the latest step from the Google-owned video platform in its battle to reduce the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories on the service. At the moment, the scientific fact-checking blurbs are only visible to US-based users, however, YouTube is slowly rolling-out the feature to viewers worldwide. YouTube says the policy is designed to give users easy access to external information to provide context and information on topics prone to misinformation.

Oil Price: OPEC Oil Production Surges 340,000 Bpd As Saudis Pump Near Record

Last month, OPEC produced an average of 32.66 million bpd of crude oil, including production from its newest member the Republic of Congo. The biggest OPEC producer, Saudi Arabia, pumped 10.63 million bpd in July, up by 240,000 bpd from June and its highest level since its record of 10.66 million bpd from August 2016, according to Platts survey archives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada Frees Itself From Saudi Oil Imports

Canada Frees Itself From Saudi Oil Imports

Canada

The ongoing political row between Canada and Saudi Arabia over Ottawa’s demand that the kingdom release detained women’s rights activists in the country is picking up momentum. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave Saudi Arabia “within 24 hours” after his country criticized the recent arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists.

However, Saudi Arabia, showing heightened sensitivity into what it perceives as foreign intrusion into its own affairs, upped the ante even more, by saying it would freeze “all new business” between the kingdom and Canada and also in an admittedly knee-jerk response, recalled thousands of Saudi students attending Canadian universities, a move to hurt Canada financially.

Omar Allam, a former Canadian diplomat and head of Allam Advisory Group, said the recall of 12,000 to 15,000 Saudi students from Canada, and accompanying relatives, is going to remove as much as CAD$2 billion in annual investment in the Canadian economy.

Ratcheting up rhetoric

“Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said. “Canada and all other nations need to know that they can’t claim to be more concerned than the kingdom over its own citizens.”

Canada, however, sees the situation differently. “Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world,” Marie-Pier Baril, a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement. “Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“What They Did Was Unacceptable”: Saudis To Dump Canadian Assets “No Matter The Cost”

Update 2: Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir has made a new statement – attempting to talk back The Kingdom’s rhetoric somewhat (or perhaps avoid sending its Canadian asset prices tumbling into a firesale).

“What Canada did was unacceptable.

Canada committed a big mistake, must rectify it.

We in Saudi Arabia do not accept dictation, interference.

There is no need for mediation, Canada knows what it needs to do, it must change its policies, ways with The Kingdom.

The Saudi measures only apply to new investments [ZH: so no immediate asset dumping]

Saudis are still weighing other measures to take against Canada.

The Loonie rebounded:

*  *  *

Update 1: Russia has sided with Saudi Arabia in the ongoing diplomatic rift with Canada on Wednesday, issuing a statement accusing the latter of attempting to “politicize human rights issues.”

The statement said Russia rejected the “authoritative tone” of Canada toward Saudi Arabia, adding that the Kingdom had the full sovereign right to manage its own affairs.

“We consistently and firmly advocate compliance with universal human rights with due regard for the specific national customs and traditions that developed in a given country over a long period of time. We have always said that the politicization of human rights matters is unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

*  *  *

The Saudis have escalated their fury towards Trudeau’s “progressive” propaganda. Having expelled the Canadian ambassador, froze new trade and investment with the G7 member, suspended a student exchange program and halted Saudi Arabian Airlines flights to Canada, the Saudis are stepping up their pressure very directly.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Diplomatic Feud Goes “Nuclear”: Saudis Start Dumping Canadian Assets “No Matter The Cost”

The Saudis have escalated their fury towards Trudeau’s “progressive” propaganda. Having expelled the Canadian ambassador, froze new trade and investment with the G7 member, suspended a student exchange programme and halted Saudi Arabian Airlines flights to Canada, the Saudis are stepping up their pressure very directly.

The FT reports that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds have instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings “no matter the cost.”

Third-party managers are estimated to be mandated to invest more than $100bn of Saudi funds in global markets, executives say. While the proportion of that figure invested in Canadian holdings would be “fairly small in absolute terms,” the asset sale sent a strong message, one of the people said.

The sell-off began on Tuesday and underlines how the Gulf monarchy is flexing its financial and political muscle to warn foreign powers against what it regards as interference in its sovereign affairs.

“This is severe stuff,” said one banker.

The most immediate reaction appears to be in the currency…

Why are the Saudis doing this (aside from responding to Ottawa’s criticism of the arrest of a female activist)?

One Twitter wit noted – “to secure funding for the Tesla LBO?”

Canada’s Biggest Producer Cuts Drilling As Heavy Oil Price Tumbles

Canada’s Biggest Producer Cuts Drilling As Heavy Oil Price Tumbles

Roughnecks at work

Canada Natural Resources, the largest producer, is allocating capital to lighter oil drilling and is curtailing heavy oil production as the price of Canadian heavy oil tumbled to a nearly five-year-low relative to the U.S. benchmark price.

Due to the transportation bottlenecks, the discount at which Western Canadian Select (WCS)—the benchmark price of oil from Canada’s oil sands delivered at Hardisty, Alberta—trades relative to WTI has been more than US$20 this year.

On Thursday, that discount blew out to US$30.80 a barrel—the largest WCS-WTI differential since December 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Canada Natural Resources said on Thursday in its Q2 results release that its North America crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) production in the second quarter dropped by 3 percent from the first quarter of 2018, primarily as a result of production curtailments and shut-in volumes of around 10,350 bpd as well as reduced drilling activity and delayed completion and ramp up of certain primary heavy crude oil wells drilled in Q1 and Q2.

“Due to current market conditions the Company has exercised its capital flexibility by shifting capital from primary heavy crude oil to light crude oil in 2018, resulting in an additional 7 net light crude oil wells targeted to be drilled in the second half of the year. Primary heavy crude oil drilling was reduced by 24 net primary heavy crude oil wells in Q2/18, with an additional 35 primary heavy crude oil well reduction targeted for the second half of the year,” Canada Natural Resources said yesterday.

Canada is producing record amounts of heavy oil from the oil sands and its economic recovery is driven by the oil industry, but drillers are finding it increasingly difficult to get this oil to market because pipelines are running at capacity and new ones are finding opposition from various groups.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Housing Bubbles Are Dangerous, That’s Why Canada is Finally Trying to Tamp Down on Them. And the US?

Housing Bubbles Are Dangerous, That’s Why Canada is Finally Trying to Tamp Down on Them. And the US?

Wolf Richter with Jim Goddard on This Week in Money:

The underlying dynamics are similar, but the approach is different.

Home prices experience a historic spike in Seattle, and sharp increases in other metros, but prices of condos in New York fall. Read…  The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America

Canadians Begin Boycotting US Goods

With Trump’s trade war against China progressing and escalating seemingly every day, culminating for now with China’s Friday announcement of another $60 billion in tariffs on US imports in response to Trump’s threat to tax $200 billion of Chinese imports at a 25% rate, some China watchers expected that one of China’s qualitative responses would be to appeal to local nationalist sentiment, urging for a “soft boycott” of US products – in line with the country’s response to Japanese products during the 2013 East China Sea diplomatic clash. However, while China has so far resisted a US boycott, the same can not be said for another target of Trump’s tariffs: Canada.

Exposing the growing backlash against Trump’s trade policies, the WSJ writes that “ticked-off Canadians”, angered by U.S. metals tariffs and Trump’s harsh words for their prime minister, are boycotting American products and buying Canadian.

Take Garland Coulson, a 58-year-old Alberta entrepreneur, who admits that while usually he doesn’t pay much attention to where the goods he buys are coming from, saying that “you tend to buy the products that taste good or you buy the products that are low in price where taste isn’t an issue”, he believes the tariffs from Canada’s neighbor are a “slap in the face,” and added that in recent he has put more Canadian products into his shopping cart.

Or take Calgary resident Tracy Martell, who “replaced her Betty Crocker brownie mix with a homemade recipe and hasn’t visited the U.S. since shortly after President Trump’s inauguration.”

Or take Ontario resident Beth Mouratidis is trying out Strub’s pickles as a replacement for her longtime favorite, Bick’s.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

We’re in year 30 of the current climate crisis

We’re in year 30 of the current climate crisis

In late-June, 1988, Canada hosted the world’s first large-scale climate conference that brought together scientists, experts, policymakers, elected officials, and the media.  The “World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security” was held in Toronto, hosted by Canada’s Conservative government, and attended by hundreds of scientists and officials.

In their final conference statement, attendees wrote that “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.”  (See excerpt pictured above.)  The 30-year-old conference statement contains a detailed catalogue of causes and effects of climate change.

Elizabeth May—who in 1988 was employed by Canada’s Department of Environment—attended the conference.   In a 2006 article she reflected on Canada’s leadership in the 1980s on climate and atmospheric issues:

“The conference … was a landmark event.  It was opened by Prime Minister Mulroney, who spoke then of the need for an international law of the atmosphere, citing our work on acid rain and ozone as the first planks in this growing area of international environmental governance…. 

Canada was acknowledged as the leader in hosting the first-ever international scientific conference on climate change, designed to give the issue a public face.  No nation would be surprised to see Canada in the lead.  After all, we had just successfully wrestled to the ground a huge regional problem, acid rain, and we had been champions of the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer.”

The Toronto conference’s final statement also called on governments and industry to work together to “reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 20% … by the year 2005…. ”  This became known as the Toronto Target.  Ignoring that target and many others, Canada has increased its CO2 emissions by 29 percent since 1988.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada, U.S. governments watching, but not intervening, in coal mine pollution controversy

Greenhills coal mine

Canada, U.S. governments watching, but not intervening, in coal mine pollution controversy

U.S. officials accused Canada of omitting information on selenium pollution flowing from B.C.’s Elk Valley into Montana waters

The U.S. State Department is not going to intervene in a dispute that has split the International Joint Commission (IJC), despite a letter from U.S. commissioners charging that their Canadian counterparts are refusing to publish data showing the full effects of selenium pollution flowing from B.C. coal mines into Montana.

A State Department official told The Narwhal that there are “no plans to weigh in at this time,” and, instead, both the U.S and Canadian federal governments are urging IJC representatives to work out their differences.

The International Joint Commission, which operates at arm’s length from government, has a mandate to prevent disputes over water quality in transboundary waters and is made up of three representatives from the U.S. and three from Canada.

It is hoped commissioners will reflect on more than a century of collaborative history, said the State Department official.

“The U.S Department of State and Global Affairs Canada hold bilateral meetings every six months to discuss a full range of transboundary water issues. Together we have discussed the issue of mining and potential transboundary impacts at every meeting for the past several years and the two governments continue to seek opportunities for collaboration,” he said.

John Babcock, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, did not directly address the letter from the U.S. commissioners, but said addressing selenium pollution from Teck Resources’ five open pit coal mines in the Elk Valley is a priority.

“Reducing the release of harmful substances found in coal mining effluent discharged into the Elk River and the transboundary Kootenay River basin remains a matter of key importance for Canada,” he said in an emailed response to questions from The Narwhal.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada Global Warming Tax up to $1,000 per Household?

 

I have been warning that Global Warming is profitable for governments. They paid these academics $1 billion to come up with dire forecasts that ignore nature, cycles, and history, all to justify taxing people that will never actually impact anything nor balance their budgets. Canadian households in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia will be hit with more than $1,000 of carbon tax per year, while those in British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba will pay around $650. In Canada, where it is often very cold, up to 10% of someone’s income is already going to cover energy costs. Politicians have discovered a new source of revenue and they are NOT about to listen to any evidence to the contrary. At the bug environmental conference in Paris, they outright DENIED any right of any speaker to put on a contrary view. This is all despite the fact that over 30,000 people have signed a petition against Global Warming, which has been ignored as usual. Any opposition is simply ignored or silenced. Why not, there is too much money on the table for governments to just ignore. Guess it will definitely now be cheaper to retire to the Caribbean. You won’t have to pay $1,000 a year to heat your home.

Spending on Housing Dropped 12% in Canada in June

Spending on Housing Dropped 12% in Canada in June

The national slowdown was particularly unkind to the province of BC.

Canadian housing data continued to disappoint in the month of June. Albeit the year-over-year decline in home sales was not nearly as disappointing as the month of May. National home sales fell 11% year-over-year in June, a slight upgrade from the 16% decline suffered in May.

As sales dipped, so too did the total amount spent on real estate. The total dollar volume dipped 12% year-over-year in June, totaling C$23.5 billion. A tough blow to government tax coffers which have reaped record sums of property tax dollars in recent years.

The national slowdown was particularly unkind to the province of BC where home sales slid 33% year over year, the largest draw-down since June of 2008. Weak buying activity hit Greater Vancouver & Victoria the hardest, sales fell 38% and 30% respectively.

However, the pullback was not exclusive to the province of BC. Other than small year over year gains in Quebec City, Toronto, and Montreal, most major cities were hit with a drop in home sales.

The average sales price across the nation dipped in June for the first time since June of 2012, shedding 1% year over year. While this marked the fifth month in a row in which the national average price was down on a year-over-year basis, it was the smallest decline among them. The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up 0.9% y-o-y in June 2018, marking the 14th consecutive month of decelerating gains. It was also the smallest increase since September 2009.

Despite the rather grim data, the Canadian Real Estate Association remained upbeat, CREA President Barb Sukkau noted, “This year’s new stress-test on mortgage applicants has been weighing on homes sales activity; however, the increase in June suggests its impact may be starting to lift.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Canada’s Housing Market- Ready to implode!

Despite what the mortgage companies and loan-sharks tell you: All’s NOT hunky-dory with the Canadian real estate scene. Even the government, at all levels – Federal, Provincial, Municipal – are trying desperately to put on a brave face on the impending market correction. However, the numbers never lie.

Here’s why many analysts believe that Canada is heading for a housing bubble crash that could be much bigger than what our neighbours to the South experienced in 2008-09!

Facts and figures

When Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) pushed out its Housing Affordability indicators for Q4-2017 a short while ago, it indicated that there was some improvement in the average Canadian’s ability to afford a home. This was the first good news in over two years. RBC’s Canada-wide affordability indicator stood at 48.3% in Q4 2017, compared to an average of 39.4% since 1985.

So, what do these facts and figures mean? Well, in simple terms: Higher is bad. Lower is good!

48.3% means that, for the average Canadian household, 48.3% of their household budget will be consumed on home ownership spending. That includes utilities, property taxes (not to mention HST/GST and other taxes) and yes – especially mortgages! Back in 1985, only 39.4% of a household’s income went towards affording a home. To put things in perspective then, Canadian’s spend 48.3 cents, on the average, out of every dollar they earn on housing affordability.

Posing a rhetorical question: “Are we at a turning point for affordability?”, the RBC report offers us this gloomy outlook for Canada’s real estate market:

“No… Rising interest rates will put upward pressure on home ownership costs, and recent policy measures are more likely to reduce household and market risks than provide material affordability relief”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bank of Canada Hikes Rates By 25bps, Loonie Rises On Hawkish Take

The Bank of Canada raised the overnight rate by 25bps to 1.5%, in line with consensus estimates.

In justifying the move, the Bank said it expects the global economy to grow by about 3.75% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019, adding that the US economy is proving stronger than expected, reinforcing market expectations of higher policy rates and pushing up the US dollar. It warned that this is “contributing to financial stresses in some emerging market economies” suggesting that Canada was dragged into the rate hikes rather than welcoming it.

In other words, the BOC hopes that demand from the U.S. will trump the drag on trade from tariffs the two neighbors, as well as the uncertainty over the future of Nafta.

It also noted that while oil prices have risen, the Canadian dollar is lower, reflecting broad-based US dollar strength and concerns about trade actions, noting that “the possibility of more trade protectionism is the most important threat to global prospects.”

Perversely, even as the BOC hiked rates, it warned that household spending is “dampened by higher interest rates and tighter mortgage lending guidelines.”

Curiously, despite market concerns, the BOC raised its Q2 GDP forecast to 2.8% from 2.5% previously, with Q3 seen at 1.5%; The bank also raised the potential output growth to 1.8% in 2018, and 1.9% in 2019 and 2020.

Commenting on the ongoing trade war with the US, the BOC estimates US tariffs on steel and aluminium will reduce level of real Canadian exports by 0.6%, with the impact expected to be felt in H2 2018. Meanwhile, Canadian counter measures estimated to reduce real imports by 0.6% starting Q3, while tariffs will temporarily boost inflation in Q3 2019.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

CMHC: 55% Of Toronto And Vancouver Real Estate Buyers Were In A Bidding War

CMHC: 55% Of Toronto And Vancouver Real Estate Buyers Were In A Bidding War

Have you ever woke up after a night of drinking, and only had a vague recollection of what happened? Then your responsible friend sets off a chain of text messages, trying to figure out where you went wrong? Well that’s what the Canadian real estate industry just did, and man-o-man did people screw up. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Crown corporation in charge of mortgage liquidity, conducted a massive survey of recent buyers in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. After getting drunk on exuberance, buyers indulged in a little too much borrowing, blaming everything from land scarcity to foreign buyers for the street fights bidding wars they entered.

About The Survey

The CMHC designed a massive survey to try and figure out where buyer exuberance started. Buyers in Toronto and Vancouver saw a quick rise in home prices, and adopted “excessive” expectations of price growth. To determine where the disconnect between fundamentals and price growth started, they took a novel approach – they asked the buyers. 30,000 recent buyers were sent surveys, asking questions ranging from what their budgets were, to why they didn’t stick to their budget.

The majority of price movements were driven by exuberance in Toronto and Vancouver. Yes, fundamentals played a part – but a small part. Instead, the survey focuses on finding out which data points buyers felt drove their FOMO. The fear of being “locked out” is always a powerful motivator, which tends to amplify the read on fundamentals.

Now, issues like foreign buyers are important, and need to be tracked and dealt with. However, no one forced anyone to buy in the small window of exuberance. The homeowner life didn’t choose these buyers, buyers chose the homeowner life.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Investment In Canada To Drop Despite Rallying Prices

Oil Investment In Canada To Drop Despite Rallying Prices

oil pipeline Canada

Canada has the world’s third-largest crude oil reserves, but the country seems determined to pretty literally keep these in the ground. This determination becomes strikingly obvious when Canada is compared with its southern neighbor, which is just what Bloomberg’s Robert Tuttle and Kevin Orland did in a recent story.

In the United States, they write, the number of oil and gas rigs are increasing—currently at its highest level since 2015, the height of the oil price crisis. In Canada, on the other hand, there has been an exodus of oil majors including Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Equinor, among others.

In the United States, capex in the oil industry is forecast by an Oil and Gas Journal poll to rise by 9.1 percent to US$132.5 billion this year alone. In Canada, total oil investment is seen falling by 2 percent to US$30.11 billion (C$40.1 billion).

Of course, there is a clear difference between the energy policies that the two neighbors’ governments are pursuing. Washington is all about energy independence, even energy dominance. Trump’s administration has been working consistently towards ensuring the best possible investment climate for oil and gas producers, much to the chagrin of environmentalists and the renewable energy industry.

Ottawa, conversely, has been clearly in favor of what might very loosely be called the green lobby. This has proven a challenge recently, as the federal government had to step in and buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from Kinder Morgan after the company refused to move forward with it in the face of strong provincial government opposition from British Columbia. Despite this move, caused as much by desperation as by any desire to have the pipeline built, Ottawa has on the whole been playing against oil.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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