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.
BY NORDAHL FLAKSTAD
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
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
PCL Builds by Adding
Melloy & Associates
Already a 747-sized jumbo in North American construction, PCL has extended its wingspan by acquiring Melloy
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.