Engineering Firm Meets the Challenges
Of a More Energy-Efficient Future

Acquisition of Dunlop Gives Stantec Toronto Presence

Editor’s Note: Doing Business is a roundup of news and developments about the business of engineering, geology and geophysics.

By Nordahl Flakstad
Freelance Writer

Stantec has taken another step toward solidifying itself as one of Canada’s largest architectural and design firms, and gained a strong presence in Greater Toronto, by acquiring Dunlop Architects.

Addition of Toronto-headquartered Dunlop, said Stantec President and CEO Tony Franceschini, P.Eng., gives his company “offices in every principal city from Ontario west, and the ability to work across the country.”

Dunlop, with a 100-member staff, also has a branch office in Hamilton. It is active in architectural design, project management, specifications, contract administration, site review and facilities programming.

Established in 1953, Dunlop is a full-service architecture firm recognized for work on facilities within the acute and long-term health care, laboratory, justice, civic and institutional, post-secondary educational, entertainment and high-tech communication markets. The firm’s consulting services include architectural design, project management, specifications, contract administration, site review and facilities programming.

SNC-Lavalin PCL Team Up On Husky Project

Under a $290-million turnkey contract, SNC-Lavalin Inc. and PCL Industrial Management Inc. will design and build a major portion of Husky Energy Inc.’s $500-million Tucker Lake oilsands project near Cold Lake.

The Tucker Lake undertaking, scheduled for completion in 2006, uses steam-assisted gravity drainage to produce bitumen. PCL Industrial Management Vice-President and General Manager Ian Johnston, P.Eng., says this as an important project in establishing the company as a leading contractor in the rapidly growing industry of SAGD projects.

Athabasca Oil Sands Makes Up For Lost Output

Following a dip in output in July, the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, consisting of the Muskeg River Mine, north of Fort McMurray, and the Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, outpaced its design capacity in August.

The joint venture involving Shell Canada Limited, Chevron Canada Limited and Western Oil Sands L.P. produced an average of 121,000 bbd a day in July while in a maintenance mode. The comparable figure for August was 182,000 bbd, well above the design capacity of 155,000 bbd.

“ We ran full throttle in August, setting daily, weekly and now monthly production records,” said Shell Canada’s Senior Vice-President Oil Sands Neil Camarta, P.Eng.

Petro-Canada & TransCanada Link For LNG Project

Petro-Canada and TransCanada Corp. expect to begin construction in 2007 on a $660-million, liquefied natural gas-receiving facility northeast of Quebec City. It will produce 500 million cubic feet of gas a day from LNG shipped from Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

The project joins the lineup of proposed receiving terminals and regasification plants intended to respond to rising demand and lower production of natural gas in North America.

Majescor Signs Diamond Deal With De Beers

Montreal-based Majescor Resources Inc. has signed agreements with De Beers regarding two advanced diamond projects, one in Brazil and one in Canada. The Canadian Hardy Lake property is located approximately 350 km northeast of Yellowknife, between BHP Billiton’s Ekati diamond mine and Rio Tinto/Aber Diavik diamond mine.

Majescor can obtain a 100 per cent interest in the property by spending $10 million over the next five years and by issuing 800,000 of its shares to De Beers.

Outlook Improves For Nova Chemicals

After three difficult years, NOVA Chemicals Corp. appears to have turned the corner, helped by an improved U.S. economy.

The company reported $27 million in net earnings for the quarter ending June 30, a $7- million rise from the first quarter of 2004. While second-quarter earnings are below those for the same period in 2003, the figures at that time reflected sale of NOVA’s interest in Methanex Corp. and a Fort Saskatchewan ethylene storage facility.

Meanwhile, NOVA – whose Joffre plant in near Red Deer is a major supplier of polyethylene to the North American market – is currently building a 180-km pipeline to Fort Saskatchewan to better access propane and propane-ethane mixes.

Proponents Roll Out Route, Rates and Risk Of Northern Rail Route

Proponents of a $2.5-billion rail and road-improvement project linking Nisku and Fort McMurray have laid out the geographic and financial coordinates of their plan ? including recommended involvement by the Alberta Government.

What’s now the Northeast Alberta Transportation Corp. has had the transportation corridor proposal ? including the proposed route and means of paying for it ? under consideration since the plan was first raised earlier this year.

NEATcor Chairman Jim Gray, APEGGA honorary member, and Team Leader Paul Giannelia say the project would more than pay for itself if the oilsands sector continues to grow and switches much of its transportation ? particularly of heavy components ? from road to rail.

“It’s really a bet on the future of the oilsands,” said Mr. Gray.

The financing scheme calls for the Alberta Government to front $300 million toward the project up front with the remaining being covered by charges to users. However, the government would retain residual obligations to bridge shortfalls through reduced royalties to oilsands producers using the railway.

NEATcor’s proposal is expected to save the oilsands industry through efficiencies offered by a modern rail system and through improvements to road transportation resulting from lower traffic volumes on the highway to Fort McMurray.

An early decision could allow work to start next year and finish in 2010.

NEATcor Rail Plans Include Big Bridge

Upgrading plans for the Nisku-Fort McMurray rail corridor call for some high-level engineering with construction of a new world-class bridge just west of Fort McMurray.

NEATcor, the proponents of the rail link, are calling for a 135-metre high, 1.6-kilometre long bridge spanning the Athabasca River. With those dimensions, the proposed structure will be larger than Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge, whose towers reach 111 metres and whose 1.5-kilometre deck rises 60 metres above Burrard Inlet.

The length of the proposed bridge is somewhat shorter than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, but it would be more than twice as high above the water.

If built as proposed, the new bridge would also be 44 per cent taller than the Lethbridge Viaduct, the world’s biggest steel railway trestle and long considered an Alberta engineering showpiece.

At an estimated cost of $777 million, the bridge would be the most expensive component of the $2.5-billion NEATcor proposal.

Grande Cache Cashing In As Mine and Mill Reopen

Resumption of production at two key resource concerns has the Rocky Mountain community of Grande Cache looking toward a brighter future.

Grande Cache Coal Corp. has resumed production at what was the Smoky River Coals mine, which closed in 2000. Up to 300 permanent staff are expected to be hired at the mine in the coming months.

Also set to resume production later this year is the sawmill taken over by C&C Wood Products Ltd. of Quesnel, B.C. Earlier this year, Weyerhaeuser Canada Limited closed the mill that had employed about 200. The new operator will upgrade the mill, including installing a new log-feed and debarking systems.

July Floods Prompt Edmonton to Tap Into Stormwater Solutions

Following storms that severely challenged Edmonton’s drainage system this summer, the city is looking at ways to prevent a repetition of the situation that left almost 5,000 homeowners with flooded basements.

The city faced 135 millimetres of precipitation in a 24-hour period July 2 and 65 millimetres within an hour, much of it in the form of hail, on July 11.

“It isn’t good enough to say that our system worked well and then we have 4,000 flooded basements. We have to look at ways of improving things,” said City of Edmonton Manager of Drainage Services Kurt Sawatzky, P.Eng.

Immediate steps have been taken to prevent manhole covers from popping, as happened during the downpours. Furthermore, the city is hiring consultants to review drainage systems in the hardest hit areas. They include neighborhoods built in the 1980s or earlier that don’t have stormwater lakes.

A&E Designed New Carwash For Edmonton Airport

A&E Architectural & Engineering Group Inc. has designed a 1,350-square-metre car wash scheduled for completion in January at Edmonton International Airport. The facility, being built for Rocky Mountain Car Wash, will include one automated and 10 self-serve bays, as well as quick-lube and coffee shop.

Leak Halts Flow On Suncor Line

A leak in Suncor Energy Inc.’s oilsands pipeline near Wandering River halted flow for three days in late August in the oil pipeline linking Fort McMurray and Edmonton.

About 3,000 barrels of naphtha, used in heavy oil blending, leaked but there were no injuries or impact on waterways. Suncor said the temporary pipeline shutdown is not expected to prevent the company from reaching its 2004 oilsands production goal of 220,000 bbd.

TransAlta Buys Emission Credits From Chilean Firm

TranAlta Corp. has reached a 10-year agreement to buy 1.75 million tonnes of greenhouse-gas credits from Agrosuper, a Chilean agro-food company.

This first international purchase of its kind by a Canadian company will, says TransAlta Director of Sustainable Development Don Wharton, help the company deal with the “serious greenhouse gas reduction obligations” it faces under still-uncertain Canadian emission rules or the Kyoto Accord, if implemented.

Lawsuit Looms Over Mackenzie Pipeline

A lawsuit filed by the Deh Cho First Nation, intended to halt construction of the Mackenzie Gas Pipeline, appears not to be having any immediate impact on the $5-billion project proceeding.

The suit is not directed at the consortium of major oil companies intending to build the pipeline but rather at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board.

In the lawsuit, the Deh Cho claim they are being discriminated against because, unlike other Northwest Territories aboriginal groups affected by the pipeline, they have not reached a land-claims agreement with the federal government.

Alberta SuperNet Not Up to Speed For Axia NetMedia

Axia NetMedia Corp. says it is hurting financially due to delays by Bell West in completing the high-speed Alberta SuperNet to link 427 communities. Axia’s subsidiary, Axia SuperNet Ltd., is to operate the high-speed Internet network scheduled for mid-2004 completion but now delayed at least until the end of the year.

“The financial health and business affairs of the corporation are materially impacted by the prime contractor’s lack of progress on the Alberta SuperNet build,” said Axia CEO Art Price, P.Eng.

Asia Sets Sights on Alberta Oilsands for Fuel, Feedstock

Canada’s political stability makes its oilsands an attractive potential source for oil, the head of Taiwan’s Petrochemical Industry Association said during a recent Alberta visit.

However, Hsin-Huai Chow said for export of synthetic crude to the Far East to occur, a new pipeline would have to be built to the West Coast.

Mr. Chow added that higher natural gas prices also have triggered interest in oilsands as a source of petrochemical feedstock.

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