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
worlds. Names of permit holders and companies closely affiliated
with permit holders appear in bold type, and so do member
BY NORDAHL FLAKSTAD
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
“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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.