Downgrading the upgraders
Alberta government refines its stance toward building bitumen upgraders in the province
Whatever happened to the great upgrader boom that never was?
In 2010, then-Alberta energy minister Ron Liepert said the government wanted to keep 65 per cent of bitumen in the province for upgrading. At the time, the province estimated it had access to potentially 400,000 barrels per day of bitumen under its Bitumen Royalty in-Kind (BRIK) program, which it could use to encourage development.
Skip ahead just a couple of years and the debate about domestic upgrading has been ...
Commercial: Nowhere to go but up
Fort McMurray unveils a plan to get its stagnating downtown core out of a tight corner
Fort McMurray, Alta.-now a city of almost 80,000 people-has doubled in population in the last 15 years, with equally dramatic growth expected in the next two decades. But just try to find a dry cleaner or a shoe repair shop there.
Complaints about shortages of stores and professional services commonplace to other similarly sized Canadian cities are frequent in Fort Mac. Even the mayor complains.
"We don't have a shoe repair person in Fort McMurray and we have one dry cleane ...
Institutional: Closing the training gap
SAIT Polytechnicís new Trades and Technology Complex is expected to help meet Albertaís growing skilled labour needs
As Alberta's construction industry continues to heat up, the province is expecting the current shortage of skilled workers to only get worse. Baby boomers will continue to retire in the coming decade while more oilsands projects are expected to come on stream, driving labour demand even higher.
This shortage has left a huge gap between the number of students Alberta's academic institutions pump out every year and the number of new employees the oil and gas industry is looking to hire-...
Infrastructure: More pipe needed
Much advancement over the years
The province's pipeline construction sector in general, and the large-diameter pipe part of the business, in particular, got a booster shot of optimism with the news in May that TransCanada Corp. had submitted a new application for the Keystone XL project to the U.S. Department of State.
TransCanada's new application seems virtually certain to get the necessary U.S. approvals, some observers say.
"The Keystone will go-as early as a year from now," says Wes Waschuk, presiden...
This mould house
A hazard to health and home, mould requires greater vigilance from construction industry
Roland Walsh can still recall the indifferent attitude towards mould when he first started out in construction. It was over 30 years ago, and he had a job doing renovations while going to school.
"We saw mould, we'd just cut it out and throw it out," he says. "Then you wake up the next morning, you're hacking and coughing, you've got a headache, but you don't really put any thought into it."
Since those early student days, Walsh has gone on to put a great deal of thought in...
Clothing that generates heat for the wearer and works for the construction industry could be closer than you think
It was a good idea. Several years ago, a research scientist at the Alberta Research Council developed what could have melted the hearts of many an Albertan construction worker-a propane-heated snowsuit that would keep the wearer comfortable and able to work in temperatures up to minus 40 for hours.
The prototype doesn't seem to have gone further but there may be hope on the horizon for heated clothing that is useable by the construction industry.
It would be especially welc...
Stitching up safety
Calgary company takes customized approach to safety vests
"When you're working construction, your safety vest is your tool box, your kitchen and your communications centre. It has to work for you."
That's Hayley Young speaking, and she should know. The owner of Can-Stitch (1999) Ltd. in Calgary, Young creates custom safety vests for the construction and oil and gas industries, designing them so they fit, have the appearance the customer wants, and make working easier.
Although she uses a basic style, Young talks to customers about...
Whatís in a deal?
The power of the public-private partnership
Energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming the focus of commercial negotiations more so than ever before. Years ago, I was advising a public sector client on the public-private partnership (P3) procurement of a new accommodation facility and the discussion turned to various aspects of its service requirements, including the environmental and energy efficiency standards of the new building.
On some level, this topic didn't need to be complicated-after all, there were established...
Tools for success
Best practices that set companies apart
How is it that some companies seem so capable of doing things with such efficiency or ease?
Oftentimes, it comes down to a company's best practices-those techniques that are so recognized throughout the work structure that you couldn't do the job any other way. It's not unusual for industry to adopt a company's or an organization's best practices. For example, consider the number of workers who fell to their deaths over the centuries before someone decided to tie a rope to himself whe...
COAA's involvement in developing industry best practices goes back 40 years
You need look no further than the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) for some of the world's most advanced approaches to best practices in industrial construction.
There are about 25 different best practice initiatives, but, for the most part, they fall under four broad categories:
o Workplace health and safety.
o Workforce development and training.
o Construction performance.
o "WorkFace" planning.
The overall concept of these initiatives...