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Alberta to stop limits on oil production in December after nearly two years – Business News – Castanet.net

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Alberta’s oil curtailment quotas are set to end in December, nearly two years after the previous NDP government introduced them to support oil prices, the UCP government announced Friday.

The curtailments, reset monthly, are no longer necessary because 16 per cent of Alberta’s crude oil production is off-line, down from 22 per cent at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said in a news release.

It added it will retain the regulatory authority to reintroduce the measures if necessary in 2021.

“Maintaining the stability and predictability of Alberta’s resource sector is vital for investor confidence as we navigate the economic conditions brought on by the pandemic, the commodity price crisis and the need for pipelines,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage.

“This purposeful approach serves as an insurance policy, as it will allow Alberta to respond swiftly if there is a risk of storage reaching maximum capacity while enabling industry to produce as the free market intended.”

The province quoted Genscape in noting that there were about 20 million barrels of oil in storage as of Oct. 16, down from nearly 40 million when the curtailment program began.

High inventory levels are blamed on the inability of the pipeline system to match the province’s growing oil production levels, mainly from new and expanded oilsands projects.

The program has been controversial from the start, with oil producers such as Cenovus Energy Inc. largely in favour of it while oil producers that also own refining operations, such as Imperial Oil Ltd., adamantly opposed.

“We have always maintained that a market-based approach is best and support the government’s move to end the current program,” said Husky Energy Inc. spokeswoman Dawn Delaney on Friday.

In a report, RBC analyst Greg Pardy said the end of the program is beneficial for producers including Cenovus, Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and others that have been forced to choke back production at their facilities.

Suncor, for example, has not been able to maintain full production at its Fort Hills oilsands mine after expanding its capacity to 194,000 barrels per day in 2018. Earlier this year, it shut down one of its two extraction trains because of low oil prices.

However, a rebound in production could result in widening of the price discount on western Canadian crude versus U.S. benchmarks, Pardy warned, noting that lower oilsands output so far this year has reduced the discount on western Canadian Select bitumen-blend oil.

The province’s allowable production quota was gradually raised from 3.56 million barrels per day in January 2019 to 3.81 million bpd by year-end, a level maintained through the first 11 months of 2020.

The province says production was actually 3.1 million bpd in August and it’s not expected to exceed export capacity before mid-2021.

The government’s move to stop the program makes sense given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the oil market, said Ben Brunnen, vice-president of fiscal and economic policy for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

“This enables companies now to be making decisions from a production perspective based on market fundamentals as opposed to government-mandated limitations,” he said.

But he added it’s unfortunate the government felt obliged to intervene in the market in the first place.

“CAPP supports transparent and unconstrained market access to ensure all of Alberta’s oil production is delivered to desired markets at market clearing prices,” he said.

The government says it extended what was intended to be a short-term measure because of ongoing delays to pipeline projects that would increase the province’s export capacity.

Pardy said the completion of pipelines including Keystone XL, the Trans Mountain expansion, and Enbridge Line 3 “should enhance the province’s permanent ability to balance production and takeaway capacity, helping to ensure Alberta’s resources are exported at full value.”

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'A grim milestone': Alta. positivity rate climbs to 10.5 per cent as Hinshaw reports 1828 cases – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
After setting new records for daily and active cases and hospitalizations multiple times this week, Alberta broke yet another COVID-19 milestone on Friday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 1,828 cases of the disease from more than 17,200, equalling Alberta’s highest positivity rate of the pandemic so far: 10.5 per cent.

“This positivity rate is a grim milestone and one that should concern us all,” the chief medical officer said.

“I want to stress the seriousness of the rise in cases numbers we are seeing, and how crucial it is that we reduce the spread and bend the curve back down.”

There are now 18,243 coronavirus cases in Alberta, with 99 of 533 hospital patients in ICU.

The province also reported 15 more COVID-19 deaths, raising the fatal count to 590.

Hinshaw encouraged Albertans to behave this weekend, avoid crowds and opt for curbside pickup, if possible.

 “By resisting the urge to socialize this weekend and limiting your close contact with others, you are not only protecting yourself and those closest to you from the virus, but you are playing a critical role in helping to break chains of transmission, which can save lives.”

FIELD HOSPITALS AND CONTACT TRACERS

Alberta Health Services is hiring more contact tracers and planning for the scenario of having to open field hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary in case they need more bed space as cases and hospitalizations see a sharp rise.

AHS president and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu, who joined Dr. Hinshaw in Friday’s briefing, said there isn’t a current need for these pop-up hospitals and called it a contingency plan.

“It is clear that Alberta’s healthcare system is under significant stress, given the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province and AHS must prepare for all scenarios. This plan is part of our ongoing proactive pandemic response planning and is one of several initiatives that will ensure our healthcare system can meet increased demand caused by COVID-19.”

AHS is also still looking to hire more contact tracers to keep up with new cases. It currently employs 900 and wants to double up that number by the end of the year.

When new infections saw a large increase in recent weeks, Hinshaw did away with contact tracers calling every new case and asked them to prioritize vulnerable Albertans.

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Alberta passes 10 per cent positivity rate, another grim milestone in COVID-19 pandemic – Calgary Herald

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Article content continued

Hinshaw urged Albertans to do their part to reduce the spread this weekend by following public-health orders, including a ban on all indoor social gatherings.

“In a difficult year, I know this last month may be the toughest for many,” she said. “This virus can spread quickly from one in many. In a month usually marked by festive gatherings, we feel the restrictions more keenly.

“If you have not been following the rules or if you know that your behaviour could be a little safer, this is the time to change it. This is the time for staying home and staying safe.”

Another 15 deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Alberta since Thursday, including two in the Alberta Health Services Calgary zone. Seven of the newly reported deaths were from one long-term care facility, the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre.

In total, 590 Albertans have now died of COVID-19, including 238 in the past 30 days.

Admissions to hospitals and intensive-care units continue to rise in Alberta, with 533 now in hospital with COVID-19, 99 of whom are in ICU. It’s an increase of 22 hospitalizations and two ICU admissions from Thursday.

As rates of infections and hospitalization rise in Alberta, the province is looking at contingency plans for patient care if surge capacity is needed.

Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of AHS, said the province was making plans to erect field hospitals in both Calgary and Edmonton

“While there is not a current need, it is clear that Alberta’s health-care system is under significant stress given the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province and AHS must prepare for all scenarios,” Yiu said.

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What Will It Feel Like to Get a COVID Vaccine? – Lifehacker

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man with mug of tea and apparent headache

Photo: Prostock-studio (Shutterstock)

Every vaccine has its side effects, but most are mild and/or rare. If you’ve ever had a sore arm after a flu shot, or even a mild headache or fever, you’ve experienced these. The upcoming coronavirus vaccines will have side effects, too, and they might be a little more severe. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.

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No COVID vaccine has yet been approved in the U.S., but we’re getting closer. One of the top candidates, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, was just authorized for emergency use in the U.K. and could get a similar approval in the U.S. as early as next week. Another, from Moderna, is also under FDA consideration and could also be approved this month. (In both cases, the FDA will consider the safety and efficacy data and make a decision. There’s no guarantee a vaccine will be approved at all, but available information gives us reason to be hopeful.)

Fever and body aches may be common

Makers of both the top vaccine candidates have said that side effects from the vaccine are mild to moderate, which means (if that’s a complete and accurate statement) that they do not pose a serious safety risk. But mild and moderate side effects can still be uncomfortable.

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According to the Pfizer vaccine’s UK label, the following side effects are very common, each affecting more than 10% of people who receive the vaccine: pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, and fever. (Note that it’s not necessarily common to have all of these, just that each one is common individually.)

Up to 1 in 10 people may have redness and swelling at the injection site, or experience nausea. And more rarely, people have reported swollen lymph nodes and “feeling unwell,” whatever that means exactly.

For an example of what this looks like, we can look to a few accounts from volunteers in the trials. One person in a vaccine trial—who doesn’t know for sure if she got the real vaccine or a placebo—told MarketWatch that her arm hurt after she got her injection, making her think she probably got the real vaccine. “The day after I got injected, I felt sluggish and tired, with body aches,” she said. “About three weeks later, I received a second injection. Again, my arm felt sore, looked red at the injection site and I had body aches and fatigue.”

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At a recent CDC advisory committee meeting, panelists discussed the importance of people understanding that these side effects can happen. You might end up taking a day off from work if you feel crappy, for example. Hospitals and essential businesses may need to account for this fact and, for example, probably shouldn’t vaccinate their entire ICU staff all at the same time.

Side effects mean it’s working

While it might be annoying to experience these symptoms, they’re not a sign of a problem. Vaccines work by spurring our immune systems to react to the faux invader. Fevers, tiredness, and muscle aches are part of our own bodies’ response to an infection, and a mini version of that response often accompanies a vaccine.

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COVID is a severe enough disease that the annoyance of these symptoms is, for most of us, well worth the potential benefit of being protected from a severe infection. But if the vaccine is approved and you decide to get it, it’s important to be aware of the possible effects.

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Public health experts are afraid that people who experience fevers or tiredness after their first dose might not want to come back for the second. That’s important because most of the vaccine candidates require two doses for full protection. The UK label for the Pfizer vaccine notes that you shouldn’t consider yourself protected until seven days after the second shot. Since the two doses are given at least three weeks apart, this means your protection won’t begin until a month after the first one.

We’ll probably find out more about the vaccines and their side effects around the time of their respective FDA meetings—Dec. 10 for Pfizer and Dec. 17 for Moderna. Stay tuned.

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