Stantec Turns 50, Celebrates Growth and Profitability

Editor’s Note: This month marks the introduction of a recurring feature in The PEGG, called Doing Business. The round-up serves as a digest of news and developments in the business of engineering, geology and geophysics.

Freelance Writer

Stantec Inc. has more than a 50th golden anniversary to celebrate this year. The Edmonton-based company, with eyes fixed on becoming one of world’s top engineering and design firms within a decade, reported record 2003 earnings of $25.1 million.

That’s an increase of more than 24 per cent over 2002. Based on revenues of $459.9 million last year, the latest results maintain Stantec’s unbroken record of registering a profit every year for half a century.

Stantec CEO and President Tony Franceshini, P.Eng., also announced the company remains on a growth path through the recent acquisition of Sear-Brown. The architectural, engineering and planning firm, based in Rochester, N.Y., employs 500 in its 13 U.S. offices.

Higher Oil Prices
Boost EnCana Profits

The highest annual oil prices in more than two decades helped Calgary-headquartered EnCana Corp. post 2003 earnings of $3.15 billion ($2.36 billion US), almost tripling its 2002 profit.

Basing his predictions partly on an optimistic outlook for natural gas, which is the source of two-thirds of EnCana’s output, EnCana President Gwyn Morgan, P.Eng., anticipates more of the same in 2004. Last year’s earnings flowed from revenues of $10.26 billion US, up from $7 billion US the year before, when EnCana’s profit reached over $800 million US.

Meanwhile, as part of its $4-million Aboriginal Educational Success Initiative at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, EnCana has contributed $1 million toward a new Aboriginal Student Centre at NAIT’s main Edmonton campus. EnCana also will contribute towards two mobile educational units to help expand training by NAIT in aboriginal communities.

PCL Builds by Adding
Melloy & Associates

Already a 747-sized jumbo in North American construction, PCL has extended its wingspan by acquiring Melloy and Associates, a privately held Edmonton firm specializing in fabrication, installation and maintenance.

Employing 250, Malloy is active in turnaround activities related to the oilsands, petrochemicals, oil and gas, and forestry. Reporting to PCL’s Industrial Division, Graham Knight will serve as general manager of Malloy Industrial Services Ltd.

PCL Construction has also announced, through its Edmonton office, the start of construction on a $123-million US car-rental facility at the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas.

CERI Sees Oilsands Rising
Even if Oil Prices Fall

Alberta’s oilsands production likely will double in the next decade and a half, according to a report by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

An extremely optimistic scenario ? with oil prices remaining at recent highs, coupled with all currently announced oilsands projects proceeding ? could mean a threefold rise in oilsands output by 2017. However, Calgary-based CERI cautions this is unlikely because of labour and capital shortages.

Still, even a less-rosy environment, with oil at $25 US a barrel, could lead to annual oilsands investment of $3.1 billion and a 120-per-cent rise in output (to 2.2 million barrels a day) by 2017. Furthermore, CERI suggests, cost and availability of natural gas for oilsands processing could curb expansion.

BW Technologies Grows
While Products Get Smaller

The Big and the Small
BW Technologies keeps succeeding with tiny gas detection uits, and the GasAlert Extreme, above, is one of them.

At BW Technologies Ltd., a manufacturer of gas detection equipment, things are getting bigger and smaller all at once. Hard on the heels of the Calgary firm being named by Alberta Venture Magazine as the province’s fifth fastest-growing company, BW introduced a very compact gas-warning device.

Less than 10 centimetres long, GasAlert Extreme is waterproof and clips onto workers’ hardhats, belts or clothing. It can be used to monitor work environments for low oxygen levels or for the presence of lethal or dangerous gases. GasAlert Extreme comes with all the bells and whistles and more (an alarm, flashing LED lights and a vibrate function) to alert of danger.

This is the second consecutive year that BW – whose gross sales of $53.7 million in 2003 were up 38 per cent over 2002 – has placed fifth on Venture’s growth list. BW is also a past winner of the Westaim Manning Innovation Award and was featured in the October 2001 PEGG.

Shear Minerals Zeroing In
On Churchill West Diamonds

Following successes in 2003, Shear Minerals Ltd. of Edmonton and its partners have announced 2004 exploration plans for the Churchill West Diamond Project, near Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.

Shear joins International Samuel Exploration Corp., Stornoway Diamond Corporation and BHP Billiton in spending $1.75 million to conduct ground geophysics on a minimum of 20 targets, to review more than 700 detailed till samples and to drill-test a minimum of 10 kimberlite targets.

Last year’s program led to the discovery of two kimberlite pipes out of a pilot three-hole exploratory drill program, one of which is diamondiferous. A 14,500-km airborne survey identified 55 priority kimberlite targets.

Meanwhile, Dev Investments Inc. has obtained an option to acquire up to a 60-per-cent working interest in mineral claims at Aylmer Lake, NWT, jointly owned by Shear and Mantle Minerals Inc.

Canada Stakes Third Spot
Among Diamond Producers

Just five years after it commenced commercial diamond production, Canada finds itself in the bronze position among world diamond producers. With Natural Resources Canada reporting that Canada’s two current diamond mines (Ekati and Diavik) produced 11.2 million carats of diamonds last year, this country’s $1.7 billion worth of production ranks behind only Botswana and Russia.

NEWT to Help Connect
Wireless Firms to Markets

Calgary-based Network for Emerging Wireless Technologies is one of the six founding members of Canada Network of Wireless Centres, a federally supported consortium that will assist small and medium-sized enterprises to market, demonstrate and test wireless technology.

Formed two years ago, with industry and government support (including $3.5 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada), NEWT operates as a division of TRLabs.

TRLabs President and CEO Dr. Roger Pederson, P.Eng., says: “This initiative will help Western Canada capitalize on the economic opportunity being created by a wireless revolution that has only just begun.”

Magnetite Mine Magnet
Of Public Opposition

Crowsnest Pass residents are kicking up dust over plans by Micrex Development Corp. of Edmonton and International Metallurgical and Environmental Inc. of Kelowna, B.C., to open a magnetite mine at Windy Ridge in southwest Alberta.

Public opposition relates partly to dust that will be carried from the surface mine by prevailing winds. There is also concern that the proposed $1.5-million mine, with planned annual production of 40,000 tonnes, will expand, thereby degrading nearby wilderness areas.

The magnetite would be processed on site and trucked to B.C. for use in coal processing. The project could face a provincial environmental impact assessment.

Three Left in Ring in Bidding
For Edmonton’s Ring Road

It’s now a three-way race rather than a six-way to decide what team will build and operate the southeast portion of Edmonton’s ring road under a public-private partnership.

The following proponents remain in the running:

Alberta Road Development Company, led by Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. (Toronto)

Alberta Structures and Highways Consortium, led by Macquarie North America Ltd. (Vancouver)

Henday Transportation Group led by Bilfinger Berger BOT Inc. (Toronto)
The three remaining teams, which include Alberta participants, will receive requests for proposals for the 11 km stretch of Anthony Henday Drive from Calgary Trail to Highway 216.

New Edmonton Digs
For Infrastructure Systems

Infrastructure Systems Ltd. is tuning in to new quarters in Edmonton, where the consulting firm is taking over the building that formerly housed CBC Radio and Radio Canada.

ISL’s 120 employees in Edmonton will occupy the 42,000-square-foot, two-storey building once it is renovated by mid-year. ISL also has offices in Calgary, Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Whitecourt and Langley, B.C.

Husky and Suncor Adding
More Ethanol to Fuel Mix

Husky Energy Inc. plans to have 130-million-litre-a-year ethanol plant in operation near its Lloydminster upgrader by late 2005.

At a cost of $90-95 million, the planned plant will be the largest of its kind in Western Canada. The announcement follows one by Suncor Energy Products Inc. to build a 200-million-litre-a-year, $120-million ethanol plant near Sarnia.

Ethanol from both plants will be blended into gasoline. Suncor and Husky are among seven companies receiving a total of $78 million from the federal government to boost Canadian ethanol output to one billion litres a year.

Husky also is reported to be seeking regulatory approval for its Sunrise Thermal Project, which by 2008 would produce 200,000 barrels per day of bitumen at a site 60 km northeast of Fort McMurray. Suncor will start construction this fall after receiving regulatory approval for a $1.5 billion expansion of its Fort McMurray upgrader.

Air Products to Supply
Hydrogen to Petro-Canada

Air Products Canada Ltd. will build two plants ? scheduled for 2006 and 2008 completion ? to supply hydrogen to Petro-Canada’s bitumen upgrading plant under construction in Edmonton. Hydrogen from the second plant will be used in oilsands upgrading, while the first’s 71-million-cubic-feet-per-day output will be channeled into production of low-sulphur gasoline and diesel fuel.

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