EPCOR's Third Genesee Plant Begins Operation


EPCOR Utilities Inc. and TransAlta Corporation have announced completion of the 450-MW Genesee 3 generating plant, the most advanced of its kind in Canada. G3 is Canada's first generation facility using a supercritical pressure boiler.

It is the largest single generation unit ever added to Alberta's power grid, and its construction site was one of the largest and busiest in Alberta.

Located southwest of Edmonton, the $695-million coal-fired plant — a joint venture of the two APEGGA permit holders — is equipped with $90 million in clean-air technologies. Genesee 3 will produce half the nitrogen oxide emissions of existing coal-fired generation and will prevent 99.8 per cent of fine particulates from reaching the atmosphere. It will also cut sulphur-dioxide emissions significantly below the provincial standard.

Supercritical combustion in boilers and clean air technologies mean that CO2 emissions will be 18 per cent lower than the average Alberta coal plant. Greenhouse gas emissions are further reduced to the level of a natural gas combined cycle plant __ a 52 per cent chop.

EPCOR led construction and will operate G3 alongside its Genesee 1 and 2.

Suncor Files Voyager Submission

Suncor Energy Inc. will explore new frontiers with its Voyager expansion, which includes plans to add a third upgrader and further extraction to more than double the company's Fort McMurray production to 550,00 bbd by 2012. Expansion plans have been filed with Alberta Energy and Utilities Board.

Cost of the upgrader is projected to be $5.9 billion. Suncor calls that a preliminary projection, however, and published reports suggest costs could reach $10 billion when expanded mining operations and related facilities are included.

The project also could incorporate a petroleum coke gasifier to produce synthetic gas to power operations.

AMEC Expands With UK Acquisition

AMEC, the international project management and services company, has expanded its environmental services by acquiring U.K.-based Environmental Advice Centre Limited for $3.3 million.

Employing 25 environmental professionals, EAC specializes in ecological surveys and assessments, contaminated-land remediation, and air and water-quality appraisals. AMEC's environmental services business operates from 100 offices across the United States and Canada, as well as locations in Europe and Latin America.

UTS, Petro-Canada to Partner on Fort Hills Development

UTS Energy Corp. has partnered with Petro-Canada to develop the Fort Hills oil sands properties, 90 km north of Fort McMurray. Under the agreement, Petro-Canada would spend $300 million to acquire a 60-per-cent interest and become the operator.

“Petro-Canada was at the top of our list of desirable partners,” said UTS Chairman Dennis Sharp, P.Eng.

Plans for the agreement were preceded by a UTS announcement that it hired Fluor Canada Ltd. to conduct preliminary engineering for the Fort Hills upgrader. The four-month “scoping” study will examine upgrader capacity, location and product quality.

In addition, UTS announced it has filed an application with the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board for a BITMIN demonstration project that would uses a patented bitumen extraction process developed by BITMIN Resources Inc.

Initial plans call for building a 50,000 bbd bitumen mine and extraction facility by 2009, followed by an upgrader.

BlackRock, Talisman Make Discovery

BlackRock Ventures Inc. has announced a new heavy oil discovery at Chipmunk, approximately 24 km southeast of BlackRock's Seal project in the Peace River oil sands area.

BlackRock and partner Talisman Energy Inc. have completed three successful vertical wells at Chipmunk. These wells have been producing at a combined rate of 960 barrels per day.

The partners are undertaking a $2.5-million 3-D seismic program as a precursor to an expanded exploration and development-drilling program to start later this year. The discovery is within 10 kilometres of a BlackRock's Seal operated pipeline, which will enable BlackRock to make use of nearby heavy-oil infrastructure.

Eleven Engineering Links with Icron USB Product

Icron Technologies Corporation of Burnaby, B.C., will partner to deliver a wireless USB product based on Eleven Engineering Inc.’s XInC wireless processor chipset and Icron's patented ExtremeUSB protocol.

Based in Edmonton, Eleven is a supplier of innovative wireless processors and platforms. The Icron/Eleven solution is suited to high-performance input and output devices, such as USB-based remote controls, multifunction keyboards, and high-end game controllers.

According to Eleven CEO John Sobota, P.Eng.: “The partnership with Icron is a natural fit as Icron's ExtremeUSB technology is very mature and fits perfectly with our XInC hardware platform to create an elegant and powerful WUSB module.”

ACEC Sees Mixed Bag In Latest Federal Budget

The Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada suggests the most positive element of the recent federal budget lies in the announced $5 billion of specific funding __ based on the gas tax __ for municipal infrastructure.

However, ACEC notes that with annual disbursements of $600 million in the first two years, the bulk of spending won't occur until the final two years of a five-year program running through until 2009-10.

Other good news for municipalities is $300 million allocated under the Green Building Municipal Funds, with half of the new funding targeted toward cleanup of brownfields, says ACEC.

However, ACEC points out that Finance Minister Ralph Goodale failed to lend support to a national highway system or to follow through on recommendations for a national roundtable on sustainable infrastructure.

More on Horizon For CNRL

After recently confirming intentions to proceed with its Horizon oil sands project, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has tipped its hand for further expansion beyond the year 2012.

“There will be phases four and five,” said CNRL CEO Steve Laut, P.Eng. These would follow the first three phases, which by 2012 are expected to result in daily output from Horizon of 232,000 barrels.

Government Pressures Bell Over SuperNet

Bell West faces the prospect of losing a $100-million performance deposit if the Alberta-SuperNet broadband communication service is not operational by September.

The completion of the high-speed broadband network designed to link 427 Alberta communities and some 4,700 government offices, schools, health-care facilities and libraries has faced repeated delays and deadline extensions.

The Alberta government committed $193 million toward the project, with Bell obligating itself to spend a minimum of $100 million. The telecommunications giant had already spent at least $140 million by last September.

Alberta Creeps Up Fraser Mine Survey

Alberta has moved up a notch on the Fraser Institute's Annual Survey of Mining Companies.

The survey by the B.C-based think-tank asked companies to provide their opinions about the investment attractiveness of 64 jurisdictions (up from 53 last year). The jurisdictions include the Canadian provinces and territories, Australian states, selected U.S. states, and jurisdictions across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

This year, Alberta ranked 36th, up one from its previous placing. British Columbia, which placed last the preceding survey, now occupies 46th. Nevada maintained the top ranking, which it held for five years.

Shear Minerals Persists With Diamond Search

Shear Minerals Ltd., Stornoway Diamond Corporation and BHP Billiton Diamonds Inc. have approved a $5-million exploration program to drill

test up to 50 geophysical targets, located in Nunavut at the head of discrete mineral trains containing high-interest indicator mineral chemistry.

The drill targets were selected after careful integration and review of the database for the partners' Churchill project, located near Rankin Inlet and Chesterfield Inlet in Nunavut.

The 2005 Churchill exploration program was scheduled to commence in early March with the mobilization of a new field camp to be located in the core area of interest. Plans called for ground geophysical crews to follow up selected anomalies and for drilling to commence in early April and to continue through to the end of the summer.

In 2003 and 2004, Shear and its partners discovered 24 kimberlites over a wide area on the Churchill and Churchill West projects.

“This year's aggressive drill campaign aims to test up to 50 targets. Drilling in the spring will focus on targets under lakes where we will conduct ice-based drilling,” said Shear President and CEO Pamela Strand, P.Geol.

Staff Shortages Loom For Canadian Mining

Just as Canadian mining resurges, the industry must face the prospect of replacing its aging workforce.

The Canadian Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council says the average age within the industry is 50. Up to half of the Canada's mining workforce could retire in the next few years, resulting in critical trade shortages in geology, mining engineering and mining.

After 20 years of recession, higher metal prices have pushed Canadian mining into an upswing. However, mining's reputation as cyclical continue to hurt recruitment.

Hearings Wrap Up On Calgary-Area Well

Seven weeks of public hearings by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board have concluded on plans by Compton Petroleum Corp. to drill a sour-gas well just beyond Calgary's southeast limits.

Opponents of the drilling include area residents, the City of Calgary and the Calgary Health Region.

“ Compton is not interested in drilling any well that (the EUB) might think or suspect is unsafe,” said company lawyer Allan McLarty.

TD Report Cautions About Power Shortages

Canada could face electricity shortages, the Toronto-Dominion Bank warns. While much attention has focused on possible shortages in Ontario, other parts of the country are also at risk. And that includes Alberta with its growing economy, says a TD report.

In addition to augmenting supply, the sector will have to upgrade and expand transmission and distribution. Citing the Canadian Electrical Association, TD suggests that, in addition to conservation, some $150 billion of public and private investment may needed over the next 20 years to ensure the reliability of Canada's electrical system. This will require increases in the price of electricity for consumers and improvements to efficiency.

Meanwhile, the Alberta Electric System Operator, which administers the grid in the province, says current transmission facilities are stretched to the limit. The agency has identified 50 priority areas for transmission upgrading.


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