Safety Record Deterioriating
Re: Upgrader Keeps Its Distance, The PEGG, February 2001.
Nordahl Flakstad received some
bad information on this article, in the section Another Part of Alberta
Advantage. It left one with the feeling that Alberta technology, engineering
and construction experience was a significant and positive contributor
to the Shell Athabasca Oil Sands Downstream Project. If this were the
case then safety would not be an issue, as was mentioned in the last sentence
of the article.
The truth of the matter is that Alberta once maintained a high standard
of safety. But in the past eight years or so the democratically evolved
institutions of society which supported this high standard have been replaced
by a smaller group, this one made up of appointees. In part, the new Safety
Codes Act, which operates under the direction of these appointees, is
the culprit. In part it has to do with big business management, or at
least with the people of most influence on the project, being comprised
of people outside Alberta.
Most Albertans, especially all skills and professions involved in construction,
know that safety here in Alberta has deteriorated in the last decade.
A newcomer to the Alberta culture wouldn't know this so his expectation
of the Alberta worker would be low.
Low expectations yeild low results. Blaming the worker for low results
is not justified and everyone knows where this leads us. In any case all
of this has to do with the Alberta Disadvantage, not the Alberta Advantage.
Richard Eliuk, P.Eng.
Concerns Remain Unaddressed
About Sending Natural Gas South
Re: The presentation from John Ellwood, P.Eng., at the APEGGA Calgary
Branch luncheon on Jan. 18, concerning the Alaska Natural Gas System.
I was delighted with the timeliness of this topic, hoping that my concerns,
as a Canadian, about the current gas supply situation and its origins
would be addressed.
However, the speaker's starting point was the acknowledged need of gas
in the south, and his advocacy of the Alaska Highway route as the most
expeditious means to bring this about, under existing treaties and legislation.
I expressed my concerns from the floor following the address and asked
whether such ideas would be given weight in future negotiations between
Canadians and Americans. Mr. Ellwood indicated that, policy matters being
in place, no such negotiations were foreseen.
I wish to reiterate my concerns, from the conviction that they should
be forcefully brought to the attention of American planners as soon as
possible. I would hope to convince APEGGA members, and possibly Mr. Ellwood
himself, of this need. My ideas on how this dialogue or negotiation is
to be carried out are not clear, other than that no level of interchange
should be precluded.
Current thinking, as typified by Mr. Ellwood's presentation, makes no
attempt to bring the Foothills Prebuild into relationship with the current
gas supply shortage. I would suggest that they are related as in cause
and effect. Though the prebuild is not the sole cause, it is the seminal
event responsible for today's concerns, flowing from a fundamental contradiction
in its mission.
On the one hand the prebuild, and its subsequent reinforcement in the
market deregulation of 1985 and the Free Trade Agreement, initiated a
rational, joint international approach to gas marketing on a continental
basis. On the other hand it opened up access to gas from
Alberta surplus to Canada's needs, a gas "bubble," which for
18 years suppressed gas prices in Canada, and to some extent in the U.S.,
with little warning until recently that the bubble had been pricked.
This depressing effect on gas prices ensured that the full Alaska project
would not be consummated while the bubble lasted.
From a Canadian perspective, two undesirable conditions have been created:
(1) Alberta's (read Canada's) proven recoverable gas reserves have been
reduced by about a third, as of 1999, from approximately 65 trillion cubic
feet in 1982, and probably will be cut in half by the time northern supplies
are tied in. Where is the symmetry with the American objective to secure
(2) Excess pipeline capacity (not Foothills' doing) has produced a spot
price shock in Alberta. This was predictable -- The Alberta Energy and
Utility Board's 1992 Gas Supplies report showed deliverability peaking
in 2002, without taking into account the demands of the Alliance Pipeline.
Where was the orderly transition to northern supplies promised by this
H. Neal Collins, P.Eng.
APEGGA Statement to Trial
My thanks to APEGGA and President Sue Evison for making a public statement
in the trial of the killer of Patrick Kent, P.Eng. Although the trial
judge was of the view that the law could not be extended to include APEGGA
as a victim, there's a good chance the judge did read it and that it had
an impact on his final sentence decision.
APEGGA, I believe, has not been proactive enough in the past in making
public statements that may not line up with the views of business owners.
I applaud your courage in this initiative.
I wish the rest of our membership and Mr. Kent's family could have read
how you and APEGGA supported him. It would give us all a stronger feeling
of belonging to an association that cares about things that are truly
important to its members. And it would give the family the solace that
they are not the only victims left to carry on.
Rick Vigrass, P.Eng.
Periods, Commas, Spaces Etc.
I noticed that The PEGG has been using commas as triad separators (the
separators in numbers larger than 999). According to the Canadian Metric
Practice Guide by the Canadian Standards Association, we should use spaces
-- not periods or commas, whose roles can be confused -- as triad separators.
Apparently many, if not most, countries use commas as decimals and periods
as triad separators, while Canada has been using periods as decimals and
commas as triad separators. The CSA advises us to use spaces to separate
numbers into groups of three digits to ease reading them. Then, whenever
we see a mark, whether it be a period or a comma, we will understand that
mark to be a decimal.
To prevent causing a number to appear on two lines should the space happen
to fall at the end of one line, we can use a non-breaking space. That's
done by folding down the control and shift keys while hitting the spacebar.
According to that standard, the symbol for kilo is a lower case k. Your
subheading in one story last month should read, Bitumen Travels 500 km,
not Bitumen Travels 500 Km. Upper case starts with M for mega or million.
J. Marshall Gregory, P.Eng.
Editor's Note: We follow Canadian Press style, with some modifications.
Using the space for the triad separation remains uncommon in Canada, and
is therefore typographically awkward and ugly to the eye, which slows
down a typical Canadian reader. The point on km is well taken. It was
capitalized only because we use a first-letter-capitalization style in
our headlines. If the word had been spelled out, it would have been Kilometres.