Petroleum and Water
I'm writing to raise the issue of fresh water usage
by the petroleum industry, particularly the case of enhanced
recovery schemes involving waterfloods.
We in Canada have in the past been blessed with an abundance
of water, which led to attitudes and practices that may
need to be changed, given our burgeoning population and
increased draws on potable water supplies. If nothing else,
perhaps higher charge rates are needed to encourage careful
use of this resource, which is absolutely essential to life.
Many of our members work in the water treatment and management
industry, and probably have a far better understanding than
I of how supply and demand trends are evolving. It would
be interesting to hear from them.
Dry conditions in recent years have exacerbated the problem,
so acting sooner rather than later to develop alternative
techniques can only improve the profile of our oil industry
as suitable stewards of our resources.
I'm no expert in the field of secondary recovery, so I'm
not sure of the technical viability of the following. I
would nonetheless like to raise the question: Since we may
be stuck with certain targets under the Kyoto Protocol,
is anyone researching the replacement of waterfloods with
CO2 injection into these same reservoirs? Do we have an
opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, by sequestering
CO2 and simultaneously conserving our increasingly precious
water supplies? Human life can be sustained without oil,
but not without water.
John C. Davey, P. Geol.
Why Register Companies?
Having practiced in two other provinces, I was surprised
to discover that Alberta requires all companies to be dues-paying,
registered APEGGA members if they engage in engineering
as defined in the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical
Professions Act. I believe this form of registration is
a redundant and unnecessary drain on the economy.
Our Association says the intent of our act is to protect
the public by ensuring that members and companies abide
by ethical and safe practices. Having worked in manufacturing
for several years, I can tell you that there is already
an industrial process that forces manufacturing companies
to retain or hire professional engineers. Insurers and government
regulatory bodies require that companies reduce their public
liability and increase their awareness of public safety.
It's also been argued that a permit to practice shows,
to the courts, that a company is licensed to practice engineering
and conforms to the Code of Ethics. Having been on the periphery
of several lawsuits during my tenure as a compliance engineer
with a large manufacturing firm, I can state that the license
has no value in court.
In all the court experience the company I worked for gained,
it was sufficient for the corporate compliance manager to
state that he was a registered professional engineer, that
the company retained a staff of so many designers, and the
percentage of designers registered as professional engineers
was X. He would list the governing bodies these engineers
were regulated by, the standards they performed tests to,
as well as where they exceeded those standards.
These answers were acceptable in every court throughout
North America, without once requiring the company itself
to be registered.
Yet another argument in favour of corporate registration
stems from the fear that a company can coerce a professional
employee to place corporate interest first and public safety
second. By requiring that a company register, there is a
commitment on the part of the company to maintain a standard
that they can be judged against.
However, the Code of Ethics, which we all agreed to bind
ourselves to as professional engineers, states we will place
the public safety as our highest level of concern. I would
have grave concerns should any professional allow himself
or herself to be coerced in this manner. By requiring companies
to register, we make a mockery of our own oath - in essence
we publicly state that we do not trust our own members to
stand behind their commitments.
While providing little or no value, we also, through the
permit, generate a financial burden. At $335 per company
and nearly 3,000 companies, we burden Alberta industry with
around an extra $1 million per year.
Most manufacturing companies seem to fall in a return-on-investment
range of one per cent to 30 per cent. That means in order
to supply this $1 million in fees, registered corporations
must make between $3.5 million and $100 million extra per
Profit margins are typically low when the economy is low,
meaning that this license fee hits hardest when companies
are most able to use this money elsewhere. Also, this is
money that cannot be used to expand and create jobs.
These permit fees are in addition to individual licensing
fees. I suspect that the corporations also pay most individual
fees, as most of them perceive a legal benefit to retaining
professional engineers on staff.
I respectfully request that our Council review the requirements
for manufacturing firms to register. I would be very interested
in hearing comments from other members, for or against my
Jack Chappell, P.Eng.
Friends of Laurie Campaign
Many geologists in the Calgary area have had the pleasure
to become acquainted with Laurie Wilcox at the AEUB Core
Research Centre. Late last year, we urged our membership
to financially support Laurie for constructive surgery on
her jawbone. This major correctiveoperation (total bill:
$20,000) was not covered by Alberta Health Care.
We are pleased to inform you that we successfully raised
the funds for her surgery. She had her operation on Jan.
29, and her prognosis for complete recovery is good.
We can't thank the membership enough for their generous
support. You have made a real difference in Laurie's life.
Iain Muir, P.Geol.
Shelley Moore, P.Geol.
Caroline Williams, P.Geol.
Richard Brandley, P.Geol.
Would Undermine Goodwill
Re: Education Foundation Anticipates Increase in Awards,
The PEGG, March 2003.
I understand the APEGGA Education Foundation's great ambition
to increase the number and value of scholarships and awards.
However, I read with dismay that the foundation is even
contemplating the idea of seeking approval for mandatory
I am one of the founding members of the foundation (and,
by the way, an active volunteer in many APEGGA initiatives).
At the time, the foundation board of directors was somewhat
reluctant to even consider including voluntary donation
with the membership renewal notice.
The mandatory approach is detrimental, and I am sure would
make the present generous members think twice about making
any donation more than the mandatory amount. Of course the
next step would possibly be to consider increasing the mandatory
donation or who knows what.
I'm a member of many technical societies also and donation
is optional in all cases. I am all for encouraging and assisting
students in their pursuit of studies - and not only in science
and engineering. I am also a donor of a memorial scholarship
in music at the University of Alberta.
Please remember that our generous members have commitments
for donations to other charitable organizations, some of
which may be in much more dire need than the APEGGA Education
Foundation. Other members and I will gladly donate whatever
we can and when we can with our limited resources to spare,
but do not compel us in any way to donate.
Ever heard of the person who killed the goose that used
to lay golden EGGs!
Dr. Raj S.V. Rajan, P.Eng.
Other Scholarships Available
I do appreciate the need for scholarships and awards to
deserving and prospective students, but in my opinion many
of these students are already able to access other scholarship
funds, such as the Rutherford scholarships, as they need
to have very high marks to enter university. I had to work
my way through engineering at university, while raising
a family, so I also feel that it is perfectly fine to actually
have to earn some money for education, or apply for a loan
and pay the money back later while practicing as a professional.
There are literally hundreds of worthy causes in each community.
Many foundations receive very little funding at all, let
alone a whopping $50,000 a year.
This seeming lack of support, as the average annual donation
is less than $2 a member, may indicate that members are
not fully behind the giving of money to this foundation.
Like myself, perhaps they support many other charitable
causes with donations of money and personal time.
I would never agree with a mandatory donation. In my opinion,
this would be a tax on APEGGA membership. Just because other
professional organizations see fit to make contributions
mandatory does not make it right or good for every organization.
Dorothy Johansen, P.Eng.
Bouquet for The PEGG
My congratulations to The PEGG staff and writers for continuously
improving the publication's quality. I have noticed that
over time the articles have become more interesting and
The January 2003 issue was particularly useful. With great
interest I read about Ross Cheriton, P.Eng., (A Sleuth Among
whereas the flipside article on P3 partnerships, Banff and
Jasper Opt for the P3 Treatment, provided insight that is
directly relevant for a current project.
Rob Hoffmann, P.Eng.
It is sad to observe the politicization of the discussions
in The PEGG on the issue of the effect of ratification of
the Kyoto Accord on oilsands project economics. I do not
know if the professional training of geologists and geophysicists
includes the area of project economics, but it is a main
area of training and responsibility for engineers. And a
key part of project economics is evaluation of the relative
importance of the factors that impact the outcome.
Some writers to The PEGG might consider using basic economic
principles to evaluate several points before rushing to
the conclusion that compliance with the Kyoto is a threat
to "the wellbeing of my family."
First, current information about the economics of planned
oilsands projects clearly indicates very economically harmful
non-Kyoto-related capital cost overruns in the neighbourhood
of 20 to 30 per cent have occurred due to shortages of labour
Second, the price of oil clearly drives oilsands economics
more than any other factor. We all know, from recent events
such as the war in the Middle East and labour unrest in
Venezuela, that the oil price is remarkably hard to predict.
Third, there are the ongoing efforts by natives to obtain
fees for service company access to their described traditional
lands. If this current issue is not resolved, it could have
as much impact on oilsands project economics as compliance
with the Kyoto Accord. Fourth, there appears to be a current
shortage of additional refinery capacity to handle Canadian
oil, particularly heavy oil.
Remarkably, none of these factors has received even a thousandth
of the mention in the news media, including The PEGG, that
the Kyoto Accord has been given.
Ladies and gentlemen of APEGGA, we have collectively allowed
ourselves to be used by politicians, who appear to be caught
up in philosophical and territorial battles. It would be
better for us to collectively use a scientific approach,
including economic analysis, to determine whether Kyoto
is a real issue with regard to oilsands development.
Otherwise we will contribute to the distraction from recognizing
and addressing other issues that are impediments to oil
and gas development, and this will jeopardize our professional
Kathleen Laverty Wilson wrote an interesting editorial
on this subject, by the way, which discusses it more clearly
than I have. It can be found on page eight of the Jan. 20,
2003, issue of Oilweek.
Karl Miller, P. Eng.