Axia, Bombardier Take Flight in Simulator Deal

Partners in High Places
Matrikon Inc., headed by Nizar J. Somji, P.Eng., above, has teamed up with Microsoft on one of the software giant’s products.

Editor’s Note: Doing Business is a digest of news and development in the engineering, geology and geophysics business worlds. Names of permit holders and companies closely affiliated with permit holders appear in bold type, and so do member names.

Freelance Writer

Axia NetMedia Corporation will assist Bombardier Aerospace and its subcontractors to provide simulators for training Canadian Forces CF-18 pilots.

Through its aerospace division in Edmonton, Axia has already provided Bombardier computer-based flight and maintenance training applications for other aircraft.
“As a Canadian company, Axia is pleased to be able to contribute to the training of Canadian pilots," Axia President Murray Wallace said in a news release.

ATCO Hands Retailing Over to Direct Energy
Direct Energy Canada has paid $90 million to acquire ATCO Ltd.’s approximately 840,000 natural gas and 160,00 electricity customers in Alberta. The subsidiary of Britain’s Centrica PLC will also provide billing and call-centre services under a 10-year contract with ATCO.

Direct Energy will intensify efforts to sign retail customers to long-term energy contracts. Following complaints about some of its retail practices elsewhere in North America, its officials have assured that similar misconduct won’t occur in Alberta. ATCO says it will focus on its core activity as a power generator and gas supplier.

In a separate development, Direct Energy announced the $51.5-million purchase of Quintana Minerals Canada Investment Corp.’s 9.3 million-cubic-feet-per-day of gas production in eastern and northern Alberta.

KeySpan Energy Lays New Line
KeySpan Energy Canada is spending $18.4 million on construction of an 84-kilometre pipeline that will carry natural gas from the Pembina areas to KeySpan's Brazeau River gas plant. Scheduled for completion in August, the Brazeau Northeast Gas Gathering System will serve an area that’s experienced significant exploration and development activity.

However, current production there is held back by a lack of sour gas processing capacity. The six- and eight-inch pipeline will carry up to 28 mmcf/d and is designed to transport sour gas containing up to 25 per cent hydrogen sulphide.

Schlumberger to Settle Into New Edmonton Site
Schlumberger Canada Ltd. has broken ground for a new 2,700-square-metre research and manufacturing building in Edmonton’s Research Park to house the company’s Oilphase-DBR division. A developer of specialized analysis, sampling and flow-assurance controls, Oilphase-DBR is currently is elsewhere in the park.

Total Telcom Wires Whitecourt
Total Telcom Inc. has obtained a $540,000 contract to design and install fibre optic connections in Whitecourt.

Total Telcom already operates 751 km of an existing fibre optic cable network between Edmonton and Fort St. John, B.C. The company also has contracted services to Bell West Inc., in connection with Alberta SuperNet, the high-speed, high-capacity network set to link approximately 4,700 provincial government facilities, schools, health-care facilities and libraries in 422 Alberta communities. SuperNet’s Edmonton-Grande-Prairie leg was recently completed, extending high-speed access to 467 sites.

TransCanada Seeks Aboriginal Partners For Alaska Pipeline
As it has done with the planned Mackenzie Gas Project, TransCanada PipeLines Ltd. is encouraging northern aboriginal groups to partner on construction of the Yukon and British Columbia portion of the planned Alaska gas pipeline.

TransCanada President and CEO Hal Kvisle, P.Eng., stressed that with increasing North American demand for energy, the company’s core businesses of natural gas transmission and power services remain strong.

“We continue to evaluate and act on opportunities to grow these businesses,” Mr. Kvisle said. “Our reaffirmation of our intention to play a leadership role in developing the Alaskan and Canadian portions of an Alaska Highway Pipeline project is evidence of our ongoing efforts to fulfil that commitment.”

Mining Association Code Raises Environmental Bar
The Mining Association of Canada hopes a new voluntary code of practice will have the public considering the industry in a more favourable light.

The guidelines, which will help gauge mining companies’ performance in areas of environmental and social responsibility, were unveiled during the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s recent annual conference and exhibition in Edmonton.

Chairman of the Mining Association of Canada is Jim Carter, P.Eng., Syncrude Canada’s president and chief operating officer. He said: “Toward Sustainable Mining marks a major shift in the way the mining industry operates and does business in Canada. In order to grow and prosper, the mining industry needs to retain and sustain the public trust.”

U.K. Buyer Smells Opportunity at BW
Sniffing an opportunity, Britain’s First Technology PLC has made an offer to purchase gas-detection-device producer BW Technologies Ltd. for $260 million. First Technology supplies sensors to Calgary-based BW.

BW has made the pages of The PEGG many times. It was featured in the October 2001 PEGG and is a past winner of the Westaim Manning Innovation Award.

Matrikon Links Up With Microsoft
Edmonton controls technology provider Matrikon Inc. has become a Microsoft Business Solutions partner for Axapta, Microsoft's premier enterprise resource planning product.

Said Matrikon President and CEO Nizar J. Somji, P.Eng.: “Microsoft has a dominant market share in the mid-market manufacturing sector in Europe and unstoppable growth in the large account space. After reviewing their technology, we are convinced that they will enjoy the same growth and dominance elsewhere in the world and we are excited about the shared opportunities.”

Axapta was built to manage multiple languages and currencies as well as other complexities of global business. Matrikon stated in a news release that Axapta's core strength in manufacturing complements Matrikon's expertise in this area.
Matrikon, an oft-awarded company within and beyond its industry, was the subject of a Keyser File column in the July 2003 PEGG.


Province to Build Brains Into Alberta Highways
Alberta Transportation plans to take a smarter approach to highway operations over the next few years by installing Intelligent Transportation Systems on key roadways. Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton will be the first to receive real-time message signs that inform drivers of delays, closures and road conditions.

Plans also call for Road Weather Information System stations along major routes to monitor changing atmospheric and pavement conditions. And the department anticipates use of Fixed Automated Spray Technology, which detects ice and frost build-ups and then de-ices bridge decks.

Mariah Handles Debts Via Private Placement
Mariah Energy Corp. has completed a private placement of $600,000 and has reached agreements to settle outstanding debts by issuing $350,000 worth of securities to an affiliated company, Suncurrent Construction Inc.

Based in Calgary, Mariah is a distributed micro-utility that also develops and manufactures integrated energy appliances. The company is a 2003 APEGGA Summit Awards® winner and a 2003 Alberta Emerald Foundation for Environmental Excellence award winner. Visit


UTS Buys True North To Become Sole Owner Of Fort Hills Oilsands

UTS Energy Corporation, led by Chairman and CEO Dennis Sharp, P.Eng., will acquire True North Energy and its oilsands properties for $125 million plus seven million UTS share purchase warrants.

Through the sale, which is subject to obtaining financing by early July, UTS will raise to 100 (from 22) per cent its interest in the Fort Hills project. Located 90 km north of Fort McMurray, the initiative calls for a $3.3 billion, 235,000 barrels-of-bitumen-penday oilsands project, which was placed on hold last year. True North is a division of Koch Industries Inc.

ARC Lucks Out in Deal With Russian Oil Giant
In what could be the first of several such contracts, the Alberta Research Council will look into use of advanced technologies, including SAGD, for heavy oil production in Russia’s Timan-Pechora Basin.

The work will take place under an agreement reached between the research council and a subsidiary of Lukoil, Russia’s premier and the world’s sixth-ranked oil producer.

“The tone of our conversation was that this is the first contract, rather than the only contract,” said ARC President John McDougall, P.Eng., after unveiling the $700,000 contract. Mr. McDougall is a life member and past president of APEGGA.

Ekati Owners Go Underground For Diamonds
Mining operations will head underground with a $182-million US expansion of the Ekati diamond mine, 300 km northeast of Yellowknife. Scheduled for completion next year, the underground mine will augment production as output from the existing open-pit Panda mine declines.

Procon Mining and Tunnelling Ltd. and aboriginal-owned Kete Whii Ltd. will build the expansion for the Ekati ownership group, led by BHP Billiton.

EPCOR Sells Stake In Washington Plant

EPCOR Utilities Inc. has sold it 49.85 per cent interest in the 249-megawatt Frederickson power facility near Tacoma, Wash., to Puget Sound Energy for $76.4 million US. As part of this agreement, EPCOR will continue to operate the combined cycle natural gas facility.

On another front, EPCOR won’t exercise an option to buy a 50-per-cent interest in a $490-million gas-fired plant in Sarnia, Ont., from TransAlta Corp.

Jackpine Mine Gets Government Go-Ahead
Now that the federal and provincial cabinets have determined that the proposed Jackpine oilsands mine is in the public interest and environmentally sound, Shell Canada Limited will proceed with feasibility studies and public consultations for the project near Fort McMurray.

Phase 1 is a mining and extraction facility on the eastern portion of Lease 13 with a planned capacity of approximately 200,000 bbd of bitumen.

The project would be run through the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, a joint venture between Shell Canada (60 per cent), Chevron Canada (20 per cent) and Western Oil Sands Inc. (20 per cent).

A Shell statement says: “The timing of an investment decision for this development will depend on market conditions, project cost and sustainable development considerations.”

Horizon Draws Nearer
The Horizon is not too distant. According to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Chief Operating Officer Steve Laut, P.Eng., the massive Horizon oilsands project, 70 km north of Fort McMurray, could be underway by this fall. A 10-square-kilometre plant site has been cleared and it is expected that 80 per cent of the engineering will have been completed by the time a final go-ahead is received later this year.

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