In Canada’s North Atlantic, New Oil Frontier Shows Life Beyond Shale

Canada pushes reprimand of newly welcome Iran at UN

NEXT UP Just how much oil is in the region will not be clear for years. Statoil said it may not be able to return to the region to drill more wells until 2015 because of rig availability; as rival drillers move in, it will be harder to get hold of the labour and winterized rigs essential to operate in the North Atlantic. “A discovery like this, which is the biggest in the world since 2010, will raise some attention. We are a little bit ahead of the game but expect increased competition,” said Geir Richardson, vice president of Statoil Canada Exploration. The state-owned Norwegian company is developing the field in a joint venture with Canadian partner Husky Energy Inc, which owns 35 percent of the field. U.S. oil based Chevron is already drilling its third exploration well in the Orphan basin, roughly 50 km northeast of the Flemish Pass, although a company spokesman said Chevron plans to keep the results confidential. Royal Dutch Shell, meanwhile, spent has C$970 ($940) million acquiring exploration rights on four parcels of land off the southwest shore of the province of Nova Scotia. The company shot three-dimensional azimuth seismic in the area over the summer, the first time such technology had been used in Canada, a Shell spokesman said. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Natural Resources said geoscience data indicates a further 6 billion barrels of potential oil reserves remain undiscovered, in addition to the 3 billion barrels already found in the province’s waters, while the government of Nova Scotia said it has 8 billion barrels of oil potential offshore. Typically oil fields are only able to pump a third or less of total reserves. While that may appear paltry to Alberta’s vast oil sands, where output is expected to hit 5.2 million barrels a day by 2030, it also offers some advantages: Offshore production neatly sidesteps the issue of congested pipelines in landlocked Alberta that have driven down the price of oil sands crude, and provides easy access to markets in Europe and India.

Environment Canada predicts two degrees of warming by 2050

Photograph by: Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS , Postmedia News OTTAWA a The Harper government is planning to put a resolution condemning Iranas human rights record before the United Nations in November despite what appears to be a breakthrough in relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Friday, the first time leaders from the two countries have spoken directly since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Relations between Canada and Iran, however, remain frozen as the Conservative government has said it wants to real proof Iran is ready to embrace change, including opening its nuclear program to international scrutiny. Canada has successfully led resolutions condemning Iranas human rights record each year since 2002, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday the government is planning to do so this year as well. Speaking to a group of Persian Gulf foreign ministers during a special lunch meeting, Baird said it is asustained international attention and pressure that will foster changea in Iran. aWe therefore encourage you to support the Iran human rights resolution when this item is considered by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly in November.a Baird has been soliciting support for the resolution this week in meetings with foreign representatives on the sidelines of the United Nations in New York. Human rights violations in Iran are considered rampant, and include crackdowns on opposition parties, protesters and the media; the use of torture, arbitrary detention and execution; and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. In addition to discussing Iran, Bairdas meeting with his Persian Gulf counterparts on Friday offered an opportunity to establish closer relations with key players in that politically volatile yet economically dynamic part of the world. He proposed a strategic dialogue between Canada and those governments in attendance, which together are called the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabi and the United Arab Emirates. aSuch a dialogue would enable us to meet, discuss and collaborate on issues of mutual concern, and to advance our shared interests in support of stability and prosperity,a he said. Not only has the government identified the bloc as a federal trade priority, Baird said Canada believes it is ain the global interest for the GCC to take on an increasing role in both regional security matters as well as global economic ones.a The GCC is one of the richest economic groupings in the world thanks to its extensive energy reserves, which has led it to become more assertive on the world stage in recent years. This included helping broker a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen two years ago that saw Yemenas president step down after 33 years in power.

Governments from around the world have agreed that the two-degree threshold is a dangerous tipping point for the atmosphere. If temperatures rose by that much, climate change would threaten to disrupt ecosystems and accelerate ongoing rising of sea levels and melting of ice in the Arctic; and would increase the likelihood of extreme weather events, such as longer and more frequent heat waves as well as heavier rainfall in some areas and droughts in other locations. The governments have agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions to avoid this tipping point asApart of an international commitment made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other world leaders at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen, Denmark to protect the planetas environmental and economic systems. While Flato said there were different projections about the impacts of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, he also praised the IPCC process, noting that its mandate was to take a collection of different scientific research and reach a consensus. aOur (Environment Canada) model, in isolation, produces results that are in roughly the two-degree warming range in the mid-century,a he said, describing Environment Canadaas computer modelling centre as a world-class facility. aBut if you look at all the models together, which is the important thing to do, there is a range and that range is important.a Flato, a scientist and manager at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, B.C., explained that this approach allowed the IPCC to clearly identify areas where the science is not settled, and clearly state the areas of consensus. Flato also noted that the assessment report of the IPCC demonstrates progress in research identifying the links between specific levels of carbon emissions from human activity and the resulting temperature levels. This could provide governments with information to help them decide how much fossil fuel, such as oil or coal, should be left in the ground and what will happen to temperatures if the energy is consumed. aThatas a new concept and a new result and itas described in this report,a said Flato. aAnd that does provide a way to very simply look at the amount of emissions that could be accepted by the atmosphere for any particularly temperature level.a The panel said greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere had reached alevels unprecedented in at least 800,000 yearsa and that it was aextremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.a The report defines aextremely likelya to mean at least 95-per-cent certainty. The IPCC also addressed concerns about an apparent ahiatusa of observed warming over the past 15 years, noting that the long-term trends still show progressive warming over the past three decades and that global warming is aunequivocal.a Environment Canada research scientist Xuebin Zhang said in a conference call organized by a non-profit Canadian-based public policy group that evidence is also increasing that links specific trends to climate change, such as warming temperatures in the air and water.