Newfoundland and Labrador’s federally funded subsidies for offshore oil are a “misuse of funds” and another step in the wrong economic direction for the cash-strapped province, says a political scientist who has studied the province’s oil sector.
Angela Carter, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, says it’s increasingly difficult to watch the government offer hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to oil companies while not taking effective steps toward building an economy that isn’t reliant on oil.
“What oil producers are trying to do is get whatever they can out of the remaining reserves,” Carter, author of the 2020 book Fossilized: Environmental Policy in Canada’s Petro-Provinces said in a recent interview.
“They’re leaning on governments like Newfoundland and Labrador that are in distress […] to be propped up or bailed out for those last few drops. And that’s being done not in the interest of governments, but for private interests.”
She worries the latest offer — $205 million in cash and a $300-million break in royalties for the owners of the Terra Nova oilfield — will encourage other oil companies to seek similar treatment.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government has offered oil companies more than $280 million since December 2020 to restart projects in peril or to keep them in play.
The money comes from a $320-million fund provided to the province by Ottawa, earmarked for safety improvements, maintenance and upgrades for facilities, research and development, and clean technology in the oil sector.
“This is about jobs in our province,” federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told reporters last September when the funding was announced. “This is about the future of our sector.”
Royalty break sets precedent: consultant
Until a tentative deal was announced on June 16, the province had been bracing for the abandonment of the aging Terra Nova field.
With the breaks provided to its owners, the government will collect $35 million in royalties — about one-tenth of the full amount expected from the 80 million barrels left in the field.
Premier Andrew Furey and Energy Minister Andrew Parsons have justified the aid by saying if the project didn’t go ahead, there’d be no royalties at all. And with the money coming from Ottawa, the move hasn’t cost Newfoundland and Labrador a cent, nor could it have been spent elsewhere, they said.
“We’re going to get money back from the indirect jobs and the direct jobs that come from this,” Parsons told reporters in mid-June. “I think it’s a really good move for this province […] we’ve protected the future, we’ve saved jobs and we’re using the resource in the best interest of the province.”
Rob Strong is a St. John’s-based consultant with decades of experience in the industry. Like Carter, he believes government has set a precedent with the $300-million royalty break for Terra Nova.
“If I was an oil company, I’d be looking for the same sort of deal,” he said in an interview this week.
Strong said he worries Newfoundland and Labrador’s bargaining position is “not as great as we were led to believe.”
Other jurisdictions, such as Guyana, produce the same light sweet crude with similar emissions but for lower prices, he said.
Oil sector shedding jobs
Carter questions whether governments should be giving public money to oil companies at all, especially based on promises of stability and jobs.
“The sector is interested in profits from extraction, and yet we have been told […] this is about jobs,” she said. “This is a doubling down on the oil sector.”
She points to a January 2021 study from economist Jim Stanford at the Centre For Future Work showing the Canadian oil sector has been shedding jobs since 2014, even though production has gone up. The oil industry, the report said, is not a reliable source of future jobs.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, direct employment with offshore projects fell from nearly 13,750 jobs in 2014 to about 4,500 in 2019, according to benefits reports filed by operators. That drop is largely due to the end of construction on the Hebron project, which began pumping oil in 2017.
As of May 2021, production levels in the province are some of the highest they’ve been in decade, according to a report from the provincial offshore regulator.
“A lot of the (oil) jobs are construction jobs, and they’re temporary,” said Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta’s regional director at the Pembina Institute, a national energy think tank.
Once construction is finished, companies are increasingly turning to automation and artificial intelligence to shed staff, he said in an interview.
“Everywhere they can, they’re cutting costs,” he said. “And this is before any kind of real reduction in demand, globally. This is in response to the competitive price environment that oil and gas has been in for a while.”
Province says green transition underway
In Newfoundland and Labrador, those jobs are particularly precarious with no meaningful efforts from governments to build new industries for workers to turn to when fields run dry or — as was the case with Terra Nova — when progress halts because owners want to pull out, Carter said.
She said the government’s choice to hand the federal money to oil companies rather than support laid-off workers directly through retraining or retirement packages is a “misuse of funds.”
“Furey has got to create a [team], and get the people in the room to figure out what the next thing is,” she said. “We gave a lot of public support and research dollars … to figure out a way to join this oil boom. So, same thing now, we need to do that again.”
Meghan McCabe, a spokesperson for Furey, said work is underway on a green transition.
“We are developing a renewable energy plan with a clear and sustainable long-term vision for our province,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
Voluntary recall issued for Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning – Global News
A voluntary recall has been issued for Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Ranch Seasoning over a possible Salmonella contamination.
McCormick & Company, Inc. says the recall covers 153g bottles with a best before date of September 6, 2022.
The bottles were shipped to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
No illnesses have been reported, and McCormick says the potential risk was brought to their attention by the FDA during routine testing.
Salmonella poisoning can result in a wide range of symptoms, from short-term fever, headache and nausea to more serious issues including severe arthritis and, in rare cases, even death.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Pfizer sells $7.8 billion in Covid shots in the second quarter, raises 2021 guidance on vaccine sales – CNBC
Pfizer said Wednesday it sold $7.8 billion in Covid-19 shots in the second quarter and raised its 2021 sales forecast for the vaccine to $33.5 billion from $26 billion, as the delta variant spreads and scientists debate whether people will need booster shots.
The company’s second-quarter financial results also beat Wall Street expectations on earnings and revenue. Here’s how Pfizer did compared with what Wall Street expected, according to average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:
- Adjusted earnings per share: $1.07 per share vs. 97 cents per share expected
- Revenue: $18.98 billion vs. $18.74 billion forecast
Pfizer expects an adjusted pretax profit in the high 20% range of revenue for the vaccine.
The company now expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.95 to $4.05 per share. That’s up from its prior range of $3.55 to $3.65 per share. It expects revenue in the range of $78 billion to $80 billion, up from its previous estimate of $70.5 billion to $72.5 billion.
Shares of Pfizer dipped 0.4% in premarket trading.
“The second quarter was remarkable in a number of ways,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “Most visibly, the speed and efficiency of our efforts with BioNTech to help vaccinate the world against COVID-19 have been unprecedented, with now more than a billion doses of BNT162b2 having been delivered globally.”
Pfizer’s other business units also saw strong sales growth. Revenue from its oncology unit rose by 19% year over year to $3.1 billion. The company’s hospital unit generated $2.2 billion in revenue, up 21% from the prior year. Its internal medicine unit grew by 5% from a year ago to $2.4 billion.
Pfizer said earlier this month it was seeing signs of waning immunity induced by its Covid vaccine with German drugmaker BioNTech, and planned to ask the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a booster dose. It also said it is developing a booster shot to target the delta variant.
In slides posted Wednesday alongside its earnings report, Pfizer said it could potentially file for an emergency use authorization for a booster dose with the FDA as early as August. It expects to begin clinical studies testing its delta variant vaccine in the same month.
It expects full approval for its two-dose vaccine by January 2022.
Pearson airport won’t sort arriving passengers based on COVID-19 vaccination status – CityNews Toronto
Canada’s largest airport is no longer splitting arriving international passengers into different customs lines based on their vaccination status.
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport announced last week it may be sorting travellers arriving from the U.S. or other international locations into vaccinated and partially or non-vaccinated queues.
But a spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority says the practice has been discontinued as of Monday.
Beverly MacDonald says in a statement that the airport has determined separating vaccinated and partially or non-vaccinated travellers into different customs lines “results in minimal operational efficiencies.”
She says entry requirements related to vaccination status will now be enforced once a passenger reaches a customs officer.
Fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents are now able to forgo a 14-day quarantine when arriving in Canada from abroad.
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