Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Forget Ike It's PetroCan's Fault

P.O. about the 13 cent rise in gasoline prices at the pump last Friday. Don't blame hurricane Ike, rather it was exasperated by the shut down of Petrocan here in Edmonton. The plant has been offline since July!

September 15, 2008

Petro-Canada Refinery Shutdown Causes Shortage

Petro-Canada, Canada's second- largest refiner, said filling stations in Alberta and British Columbia may run out of fuel after the unexpected shutdown of a unit at its Edmonton, Alberta, refinery.

The company is investigating the reason for the closing of the catalytic cracking unit, a gasoline-producing piece of equipment, according to a Bloomberg report. Petro-Canada spokesperson Jon Hamilton said the reduction in gasoline could last several weeks as the company fixes the unit.

"It could be short term, it could be a little longer," Hamilton said. "We're looking at, I'd say, weeks not days, right now."

Gasoline shortages may occur in parts of British Columbia's so-called interior region and Alberta, Petro-Canada said in a statement. The Calgary-based company said it's trying to boost supplies in Canada's western provinces partly by buying fuel from rivals.
Deliveries to some customers and filling stations have been curbed, Hamilton said without providing details.

"The deliveries that we're sending out are reduced from what they would normally get,'' he said. "That might mean a smaller load or that might mean less frequent loads."

The company intends to import more supplies to its port terminal in Vancouver and truck the fuel to customers, Hamilton said. Petro-Canada also is altering its distribution network across the country to boost supply in western Canada.

The equipment failure is unrelated to a C$2.2 billion ($2.07 billion) modification project nearing completion at the plant. Parts of the refinery were scheduled to be shuttered for about two months starting this month so that the plant can run on crude extracted from Alberta's oil sands.

Output at the refinery was cut last month because of a water-boiler equipment problem. The plant is capable of processing 135,000 barrels a day.

Imperial Oil Ltd. of Calgary is Canada's largest refiner and marketer.
Since Petrocan, Shell and Imperial Oil are the area's main refiners losing Petrocan put pressure on their retail outlets. Of course this should have been predicated. Add to that the shut down of East Coast gasoline due to Ike and you have the perfect storm.

In March, a shut down at Imperial's 187,000-barrel-a-day Strathcona refinery near Edmonton caused gasoline shortages at Esso stations throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Manitoba.

Around the same time, Shell Canada Ltd. said its Scotford refinery and upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., were operating at reduced rates because of unplanned maintenance.

Last year, Ontarians experienced gasoline shortages for several weeks after a fire at Imperial's Nanticoke refinery.

Canada's refining infrastructure is aging, but companies are not keen on investing in new facilities, said Roger McKnight, an energy analyst with Oshawa, Ont.-based consulting firm En-Pro.

Not only would it would take up to 10 years and billions of dollars to build a new refinery, but they would tilt the market against the companies' favour.

"Their refining margins would drop because of excess supply. So there's no incentive at all for them to do that," McKnight said.

Another factor discouraging the industry from spending money on new refineries is uncertainty about government regulations.

"If I was an oil company, I would like to know in 10 years, when I'm going to have this refinery built, what the eventual specs are going to be and what the emission standards are going to be," McKnight said.

As for the solution it is as clear as the nose on Uncle Ed's face, we need more refinery capacity in Alberta and Canada. Of course given the anti regulatory anti-public ownership attitude of Big Oil and its government in Alberta that ain't gonna happen any time soon.

And so we have gasoline shortages on refinery row.

Back in August, it was Petro-Canada. Now, it’s Shell that has run out of gasoline at some of its Alberta stations.

In Medicine Hat, the Shell stations on Dunmore Road and Eighth St. NW have been out of gas since Friday, while the Shell on South Railway had gas as of Monday but wasn’t sure how long its supplies would last. Shell stations on Redcliff Drive SW and Trans-Canada Way were reporting they still have gas.

Jana Masters, spokesperson for Shell Canada, said there are also a couple of stations in Calgary and Edmonton that are running on empty.

“But these are very small numbers compared to our total operations across the province,” she said.

While the Petro-Canada gas shortage in August had to do with a problem at that company’s refinery, Masters said that is not the case at Shell.

“It’s just a temporary challenge keeping up to customer demand,” Masters said.

It is the lack of tertiary refining that causes gasoline shortages in Canada and subsequently
price increases. And wqe won't get more refineries built until there is a national initiative to make it so including a Green Plan.

Call it a Green National Energy Program. If you want to end price gouging lets have a made in Canada Energy Plan that includes increased bitumin processing and tertiary refining capacity.

Of course others have solutions too, like importing more dirty gas from the U.S. but that is all refined in Hurricane Alley, and we know what that means. 13 cent price increases in one day.

Petro-Canada said it’s pulling out all the stops to make sure supplies of gasoline keep flowing.

Company officials said on Petro-Canada’s website that it was able to use trucks to ship approximately 200,000 litres of gasoline per day from its Vancouver storage facility last week, but that volume has now more than quadrupled.

That’s been partially accomplished by hiring truckers from Ontario to move more product, Stevens said.

The company is also trying to find rail cars that could be pressed into service to deliver gasoline to destinations in B.C. and Alberta.

The company also is trying to boost its gasoline supplies by looking to its other Canadian refineries and to the United States and overseas, Stevens said.

An industry group that represents independent gasoline retailers is calling for a harmonization of gasoline standards between Canada and the U.S., which would allow for more importation of American products during shortages.

Canadian gasoline has hard caps on sulphur and benzene levels in gasoline, which prevents the importation of the product from the U.S. to ease any shortages, said Dave Collins, a director with the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association.

"It’s great if you’re a refinery because it blocks competition and helps you keep our prices up," he said in an interview from Halifax.

"But it’s not good for consumers and, at times like this, it’s not good for our operations either because we can’t get any gas," he said.

The federal government’s failure to ease importation restrictions means such shortages will likely happen again, Collins said.

Of course the solution is not unrestricted trade with the U.S. for dirty gas, rather the solution was in hand until the Liberals under Paul Martin sold off the last of Canadians taxpayers shareholdings in Petrocan.There is a solution to price gouging, that is worker and community control of the refineries.


It's Time to Take Back Our Oil and Gas

NDP And Workers Control

Nationalize the Oil Industry

The Myth of the NEP

Aren't you sorry you sold your shares

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Albertans Want Oil Sands Moratorium

It's not just folks out east who want a moratorium on oil sands development, Albertans do to. Jack was right.

While 56 per cent of respondents are worried about the impact of oilsands development on the environment, more than seven in 10 said they're worried about the health impacts.

A slim majority of Albertans (51 per cent) don't want the federal government to intervene to protect the environment affected by the oilsands, fitting with many Albertans' long-standing dislike of having outsiders interfere with what is seen as a domestic affair. But 42 per cent want Ottawa to become involved.

A sizable majority of Albertans (63 per cent) do not agree the Alberta government is adequately protecting the air, land and water affected by oilsands developments. Only 29 per cent of Albertans say they think the government is doing a good enough job.

One in five say the provincial government is doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while nearly six in 10 say they are not. Twenty per cent of respondents say they don't know. The federal government receives a similarly poor review.

Seven in 10 young people between the ages of 18 and 34 say the province and Ottawa are not doing enough.

The poll found 88 per cent of respondents think the oilsands are important to Alberta's economic development.

And we are still waiting to get our fair share of royalties to pay for all the environmental and health impacts of the tarsands.

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The Failure of Privatization

The collapse of Fannie May and Freddie Mac, the American government mortgage lending institutions,is a clear admission of the failure of the neo-con agenda of privatization.

While right wing pundits like to refer to the government bail out of Fannie and Freddie as 'nationalization', this is a red herring. Fannie May was created by the FDR government because of the economic collapse of the great depression. It was always a state capitalist institution.

In the seventies the neo-con think tanks promoted 'competition' and the Nixon government created a state funded shareholder corporation to compete with Fannie called Freddie Mac.

Under Reagan the neo-cons were in full control and privatized Fannie May making it a shareholder based corporation, but still with state capitalist gurantees that the government would back their investments.

Last week the Bush administration admited that privatization had failed and bailed out Fannie and Freddie.

In a further irony state capitalist funds (called soverign investment funds) from China, India ,Singapore, and Dubai Inc. are being promoted as a way of bailing out the current failing private banks in the U.S.; Lehman Brothers and Merril Lynch.

The irony in this is that the greatest accumulation of wealth in the world currently is not on Wall Street, which is bleeding, but in China, where trillions of dollars remain in that countries Foriegn Investment Fund. As they do in the Middle East.

While the neo-cons denounced Keyensianism as a failure, the social contract that built modern post war capitalism in the West, lasted sixty years. The neo-con agenda of the Cato Institute and its like lasted a mere twenty years and led to two major Wall Street crashes, first in 1987 and now the down turn we have had for the past two years.

And of course those businesses that called for unregulated markets and getting government out of the way of business are now the same folks calling for regulation and lining up at the doors of the State with their hands out.


Black Gold

The Return Of Hawley—Smoot

Canadian Banks and The Great Depression

Bank Run

U.S. Economy Entering Twilight Zone

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Rahim Worried

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Signs Lyrics by Five Man Electrical Band

Week one of the hottest election contest in Edmonton. I am speaking of course of my riding Edmonton Strathcona where Linda Duncan of the NDP is running again against the incumbent Rahim (dolittle) Jaffer.

And is Rahim worried? You bet. In the past Rahim has waited to put up signs in front of houses, relying instead on his landlord business pals to put up big signs on their buildings.
But last week, he was out with lawn signs, as was Linda.

If the battle of the signs is any indication, this will be a close race.
Though as an old pal of mine once said; boulevards don't vote, belittling the impact of lawn signs in public space rather than in front of houses. A message that seems lost on the Liberal candidate Claudette Roy who has few lawn signs up in front of homes relying instead on littering the 99th St. hill with her signs.

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Elizabeth May Progressive au contraire

Contrary to the current political myth that Elizabeth May and her Green Party will take votes from the left, ie. the NDP in reality they are a right wing party, and will take votes from the Tories.

Tom Flanagan: Yes, the Greens are mainly a threat to the other parties of the left, especially the NDP. The Conservatives lost some supporters to the Greens at the time of the merger (2003), but that's ancient history now. Elizabeth May doesn't threaten Stephen Harper; she threatens Jack Layton and his attempt in this election to displace the Liberals as the Official Opposition.

May herself may want to focus on the environment, but her passion for putting her foot in her mouth will be challenged when she gets into the debates.

Like this little jewel which exposes her for being the good Catholic she really wants to be.....,

"I'm against abortion. I don't think a woman has a frivolous right to choose".

She has denied that she said 'frivolous' just like she has denied she has called Canadians 'stupid'.

The Youtube controversy was created by Blogging Tory founder Stephen Taylor, showing that the Conservatives are worried about the impact of May on their voters.

But backpeadling when your words are in print or on YouTube, further shows her lack of political maturity.

Now that she is in the leaders debate I frankily look forward to May sticking her foot in it again. And au contraire her impact will be greater on the Liberals and Conservatives more than it will hurt Jack Layton and the NDP.


Green Party

Elizabeth May

Peter MacKay

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Carpenters Union Defines Business Unionism

Faced with corporatist labour management counsultants from CLAC who promote collaboration with Merit Shops (non-union open shops in construction trades) the Carpenters Union are promoting themselves as the alternative.

Contrary to the article below this is not new at all its the return of Gomperism...the Carpenters Union see's its business partners as 'clients' and see's its role as a partner in capitalism, selling labour to the highest bidder. So long Class War.

The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit
The more thoroughly the workers are organized and federated the better they are prepared to enter into a contest, and the more surely will conflicts be averted. Paradoxical as it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that militant trade unionism is essential to industrial peace.

What we have endeavored to secure in industrial relations is industrial peace.

Samuel Gompers President, American Federation of Labour
After all Peter McGuire, Gompers pal, was the Canadian born President of the Carpenters Union, and he and Sam gave us Labour Day to undermine the more radical May Day which arose after the Haymarket Massacre. So the idea of selling labour to the highest bidder is nothing new for the Carpenters Union. Just as business unionism has always clashed with those who believe that the purpose of unions of workers is to challenge capitalism.

What is interesting in this story as well is that their centre is Green...that is it uses geothermal energy in oil rich Alberta. Now did they also build with recycled components?

Carpenters build for construction boom
Union unveils $21M west-end facility for training, updating workers
David Finlayson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, September 12

EDMONTON - A $21-million new training centre and talk of long-term partnerships with "clients" -- welcome to the carpenters union of the new millennium as it positions itself as a major stakeholder in the booming construction industry.

"Times have changed, and we're not the union of old," says Martyn Piper, executive secretary-treasurer of the

Alberta Regional Council of Carpenters and Allied Workers, which has 11,500 members.
"First and foremost we represent our people, but we also provide a service for our clients.

"They want safe and productive people when they need them, and our new training centre will help us do that."

The geothermally heated and cooled west-end centre will provide training and updating for carpenters, scaffolders, millwrights, industrial roofers and floor layers, and interior systems installers -- all in high demand amid the frantic oilsands and other industrial construction activity.

While the priority is to train Alberta's young people, scaffolders are in such short supply the union has brought in 2,500 workers from across Canada, as well as the U.S. and the U.K.

Already, 450 Americans are at various northern Alberta sites and that will rise to 1,000 in the next few weeks.

The union has a working relationship with its Irish counterparts to bring people over on temporary worker permits, and Piper soon will be going on a recruiting trip to England.

They've worked hard with Ottawa to smooth out the entry system, but it's still a slow process, he says.

Scaffolding's become an important job as large industrial complexes recognize the need to give workers a safe working platform, Piper says, and the new training shop is arguably the best in the world, certainly the best in North America.

It's a three-year apprenticeship, and many workers enrol in both the carpentry and scaffolding programs, he says.

In the millwright shop, workers can learn how to install and service a giant, modern hydrogen compressor donated by Petro-Canada.

The centre, which can accommodate about 200 trainees on any given day, consolidates five separate facilities the union had around the city, including administrative offices.

There's plenty of room on the site for expansion as needed, Piper says.

The new partnership and training philosophy came from the union's Washington, D.C-based international president Douglas McCarron, who believes it has to be run like a business for the best interests of the industry as a whole.

The Edmonton centre is a smaller version of one built in Las Vegas by McCarron, here today for the official opening.

Piper says changing times for unions call for new approaches, especially with the number of open-shop contractors in Alberta, and the inroads being made by the Christian Labour Association of Canada.

"They are exciting -- and challenging -- times. And we believe we have a functional, modest facility that meets the needs of industry and which our members can be proud of."


© The Edmonton Journal 2008


Unions the State and Capital

This is Class War


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Friday, September 12, 2008

Yep I am Back

As you can tell from yesterdays posts I have returned! Aw shucks who could keep away from blogging especially after a week likethis one.

The Conservatives launched their elect Uncle Steve campaign, as in the old Soviet Uncle Joe campaign, showing their Man of Steel to be the kind cuddly family guy (like Peter from Family Guy). Leadership 08 is their their slogean.

Which then blew up in a flight of puffin feathers and communiations team suspensions that showed when Steve ain't the authoritariean strict father,Tory kids playing at politics in his war room get outta control.

So toss out 'the soft and colourful' sweaters and let the real Steve out. The angry man who called this election a year early cause he couldn't get his way in parliment.

The Tories have only just begun their neo-con social re-engineering of Canada with war mongering support of U.S. Imperialism, cuts to womens programs, cuts to arts and culture programs, attacks on Insite, privatization of Atomic Energy Canada, deregulation of Canadian Food Inspection, etc. They want the power to finish the job.

They have drooled and panted for an election since Dion became Liberal leader. And when he failed to bring them down they did the job themselves. Now that's leadership.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

War Monger

Best left wing attack on Harper. Duceppe . On the election announcement night when he called:

Another Failed Surge

Stephen Harper's war is over. His surge has failed. He admits this
with his election declaration that Canada will leave Afghanistan in 2011. So for the next three years we can watch as more Canadians die in a futile counter-insurgency campaign.
Why not leave now. Why not move our forces to protect real development projects like schools, which non-military volunteers who are Canadian have been killed for creating, with no protection from their country.
The failure of the counter-insurgency is no better exposed then the death of the Vancouver volunteer who built a girls school and was murdered by the Taliban for his efforts.


Schools In Afghanistan

Sir Robert Bond Idiot

Afghan Woman Speaks Out

The War For Women's Rights

Democracy In Afghanistan

Where Are The Women?


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Harper is a fruit

Out of the closet. The ultimate he man PM has admited he is a fruit, soft and colourful. Probably a peach of a guy. Yep like we didn't know that from last election when he dressed up as one of the Village People for the Calgary Stampede. Except his admission to being soft and colourful has not won him any friends in the gay community. Gay community united in stance against PM: poll

Green Shift Tax=GST

The green PM Brian Mulroney gave us the GST a tax on consumers, a regressive tax, one the Liberals promised to abolish but never got around to doing so. Stephne Dion and his Liberals now offer their of the GST with their Green Shift Tax. Again the average Canadian faces another Gouge and Screw Tax aimed at consumption rather than producers/production.
The Liberals new Green Shift is not green but it certainly is a shift, from taxing producers of greenhouse gases to those who consume the products.
In other words same old same old.
Brought to you by the folks who signed Kyoto but who had no plan to deal with it.
The Conservatives have no plan period, so this election anything they do is sheer opportunism; hence their diesel tax reduction. Which will not bring down the prices of your vegetables, furniture, or tropical fish, or anything else transported by truck.
The only party that is actually proposing a Green plan that meets the needs of capitalism is the NDP. New Zealand this week adopted a carbon cap and trade plan, Chicago has a cap and trade commodities market in place, Quebec supports cap and trade, and is creating its own market for it as well, hoping to use its hydro power as a carbon offset against the greenhouse gases produced by more inefficient coal powered utilities in Ontario and of course against the greenhouse gases produced in Alberta and the Wests rapidly expanding oil and gas fields.
Cap and Trade is the Kyoto solution for capitalism to address the climate crisis. Create a market place for trading emissions, make it a cost of doing business but market it based on an investment model.
Why the Liberals and Conservatives don't get this is simple because they fare old party's of the aristocracy and as much as they have adapted to bourgeoisie parlimentarism they fail to understand how capitalism functions. It sees a problem and it sees an investment opportunity. The Liberals and Conservatives being the old party's of the state only understand taxation not investment. They are lousy capitalists. Ironically for the libertarian ideologues of the free market it is the statist socialists who understand real world capitalism best.
The Whigs and Tories of old understood only taxation, they inherited their titles and their title to capital. With the rise of the workers movement there came the call to universal sufferage in Europe and these two old parties of the ruling classes of their day adapted. However what they did not adapt to was capitalism.
The new workers parties of Social Democracy on the other hand educated by Marx's Kapital knew of the the new world being born by their labour.
After 100 years of battle inthe parilments of capitalist democracy, honed through booms and busts and failed revolutions, they came to an post-modernist understanding in the ninties, in order to pose an alternative to the neo-con agenda of revival of 19th Century lazzie faire Austrian School economics
they needed a different social agenda. So they added eco to eco-nomics.
The Kyoto accord is not some socialist agenda to overthrow capitalism, despite its characterization as such by such neo-con mouthpieces as Stephen Harper, rather it is very much a 'market' solution to overproduction of emissions. And capitalists like it, they understand it, they endorse it which is why in states in the U.S. across Europe and around the world cap and trade is their prefered choice over carbon taxes.
But because business and its mouthpiece political party, the Conservatives, of all lands oppose carbon taxes does not mean that we as workers should support them. They are after all the most regressive form of tax that on consumption rather than production.
Nor should we be fooled that creating new stock markets based on cap and trade will actually have any real impact on the environment.
Rather we need to pose the one alternative to the crisis of capitalism and it's impact on our world, workers control of production. Nothing less will halt capitalisms ultimate entropy which is the climate crisis.

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