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Vaccine will save lives, says Hinshaw; 85 active COVID-19 cases in Medicine Hat – CHAT News Today

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Hinshaw said she believes the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks, and this vaccine will save lives.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is the best defense against serious infections. When it is your turn, please get immunized. It is an act of kindness for yourself, for your loved ones and for your community.”

Vaccinations will only be administered in Calgary and Edmonton for now but will expand to priority health-care workers province-wide when another 25,000 doses arrive next week.

There are 85 active cases of COVID-19 in Medicine Hat.

The city now has had 392 total cases – the 85 active, 302 recovered and there have been five deaths.

There are eight new cases in the city in Wednesday’s update and six recoveries.

Across the province, there are 20,169 active cases, down 480 from Tuesday, and 63,668 recovered cases, up 1,734.

Alberta’s total number of COVID-19 cases from the start of the pandemic is 84,597.

There are 1,270 new cases in the province today.

There are now 749 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, 139 of which are in ICU, and 760 deaths.

The province completed 17,569 tests in the past 24 hours.

The provincial positivity rate is 7.3 per cent.

With 16 new deaths in the past 24 hours, Hinshaw offered what she called a sobering statistic.

“In less than 10 months, more Albertans have now died from COVID-19 than have died from influenza in the last 10 years combined,” she said.

Medicine Hat remains on the provincial “Watch” list and is in enhanced status. In enhanced status, risk levels require enhanced public health measures to control the spread and are informed by local context.

Regions are placed on the province’s “Watch” list when they have a rate of more than 50 active cases per 100,000 population. Medicine Hat’s 83 active cases among 68,057 people puts it at a rate of 124.9.

Cypress County with a rate of 107 on 12 active cases is also on the list.

Brooks (196.0 rate), the County of Newell (210.1), Lethbridge (206.1) Lethbridge County (214) and the MD of Taber (164.3) are also on the list.

All those regions are also in enhanced status.

There are 4,640 cases in the South Zone. There are 553 active cases and 4,035 recovered. There are 20 in hospital due to COVID-19 in the zone, four of them in the ICU. The death total in the zone is at 52.

On Tuesday, an AHS spokesperson told CHAT News AHS South Zone currently has 19 COVID-19 positive individuals in hospital. There are seven at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, with one of those in the ICU. Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge has 12 inpatients, with three in the ICU.

On Wednesday there are 297 schools in the province where outbreaks have been declared. Alberta Health’s threshold for declaring an outbreak in school is two cases being in a school while infectious within 14 days.

In the city, Crescent Heights High School is listed as having an outbreak.

In Brooks, an outbreak is listed at Christ the King Academy and at Holy Family Academy.

The website Support Our Students is tracking instances of cases in schools across the province.

Cypress County has totaled 135 cases – 12 active cases and the rest recovered.

The County of Forty Mile has 113 total cases. There is one active case, 110 recovered and there have been two deaths.

The MD of Taber has 293 total cases — 31 active cases, 256 recovered and there have been six deaths.

Special Areas No. 2 has 33 total cases – eight active, 24 recovered and there has been one death.

Brooks has 1,325 total cases — 38 active and 1,273 are recovered. Brooks has recorded 14 deaths.

The County of Newell has a total of 135 cases — 17 active cases, 116 recovered and there have been two deaths.

The County of Warner has 141 total cases. There are 11 active cases, 128 are recovered cases and there have been two deaths in the county.

The City of Lethbridge has a total of 1,292 cases. There are 204 active cases, 1,081 recovered and there have been seven deaths. Lethbridge County has 398 cases, 54 active cases, 341 recovered and there have been three deaths.

The figures on alberta.ca are “up-to-date as of end of day Dec. 15, 2020.”

Read the full Dec. 16 update from the province here.

Saskatchewan confirmed 169 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, four in the South Zones.

Saskatchewan has a total of 12,594 cases, 4,213 considered active. There are 8,283 recovered cases and there have been 98 COVID-19 deaths in the province.

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BlackBerry shares soar 40% to highest level since 2011 – CBC.ca

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Shares in Canadian technology company BlackBerry are changing hands at their highest level in almost a decade on Monday, as investor enthusiasm for the once high-flying stock has mysteriously returned.

BlackBerry shares were trading at almost $25 a share when the Toronto Stock Exchange opened on Monday, up more than $7 or more than 40 per cent from Friday’s level.

The stock has been quietly rallying for several days now, before taking off on Monday. When 2021 began, the company was worth just over $8 a share. It’s now worth about three times that.

The company has had a number of small pieces of good news in recent weeks, but nothing that would explain Monday’s rise in share price.

Last month, the company signed a deal with Amazon to work on a connected cloud software program for cars, and then in mid-January BlackBerry favourably settled a patent fight with Facebook, but Morningstar analyst William Kerwin says neither development is enough to explain Monday’s surge.

“BlackBerry’s stock movement doesn’t appear to be rooted in any fundamental firm changes, in our view,” he said in an email to CBC News.

Instead, the company has seemingly become one of many recent firms to benefit from a groundswell of retail investor enthusiasm on popular online message boards such as Reddit, regardless of whatever the Wall Street community thinks. Of the 11 analysts who cover the company, nine have a “hold” rating on the company’s shares, and two have “sell” recommendations.

None suggest buying. But that’s not stopping retail investors from doing exactly that.

“BB is moving on Reddit boards,” said Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of trading firm Capital Market Labs. “Not much else to say.”

More than 14 million of the company’s shares changed hands in Toronto on Monday. That’s more than three times the usual volume, and half the trading day is still to come.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto, says BlackBerry is just the latest in a series of companies that have seen unexpected rises in share prices in recent weeks.

The current stock market rally has driven up the valuation of huge companies, and now investors are moving down the food chain looking for bargains.

“Smaller stocks don’t have as much liquidity or stock available to trade so a sudden stampede of cash chasing into a smaller cap stock can swamp supply and cause the kind of massive spikes on no news that have started to really pop up in the last week or so,” he said in an email to CBC News. 

“So to me, these moves are more about market sentiment, relative performance, and supply/demand issues rather than fundamental news.”

Kerwin agrees that there are no fundamental changes to BlackBerry’s business that properly explain the price surge.

“We think there’s likely a shift in market sentiment about BlackBerry, perhaps with investors getting more bullish about [their] prospects after the fact. There’s above average trading volume this morning, which might also point to [a] retail investor swell.”

Gottlieb notes that BlackBerry isn’t the only company being pushed up by the sudden trend. “This is not a single stock story, it is a behavioural story.”

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These 2 oil companies say they've reached 'net-negative' emissions through carbon capture – CBC.ca

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Banks, grocery stores, pop makers — it seems like every day, another company is pledging to become a “net-zero” emitter of greenhouse gases — at some point years or decades in the future.  

But a pair of Alberta companies say they’ve not only achieved the mark but are actually storing more emissions underground than they are producing from their operations.

Enhance Energy and Whitecap Resources both use carbon capture technology to stash emissions far below the surface.

For Enhance, the company buys the CO2 from a refinery and a fertilizer plant in central Alberta. The CO2 is transported through a pipeline to its facility north of Red Deer, where it is pumped into an old oil reservoir. The CO2 helps to free up more oil and increase the amount of crude produced at the site, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). 

The private Calgary-based firm began operations last fall. So far, executives say about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 is stored underground every day, which they say is the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road — a point of pride for the company. 

Because they’re getting the CO2 from the two large plants but only extracting a small amount of oil at this point, on balance, they say they’re burying more CO2 than their oil will produce.

“I get a warm feeling when I come on site and see that injection well,” said chief executive Kevin Jabusch. “That’s very rewarding. It makes the 10-year effort to put this project together worth it.”

Federal goal is net zero by 2050

Many in the industry, as well as some environmental groups, support the development of carbon capture technology, although there are concerns about how emission reductions are calculated and whether capturing carbon disincentivizes industries from taking action to produce fewer emissions in the first place.

The federal government has set a target of reaching net zero by 2050 and released a blueprint to achieve that goal in December, including hiking the carbon tax from the current price of $30 per tonne to $170 by 2030.

The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy.– Kevin Jabusch, Enhance Energy

Instead of calling Enhance an oil company, Jabusch describes it as a “carbon mitigation company” and said if the carbon tax rises as expected, the day might come when Enhance no longer will need to produce oil anymore to be profitable.

Currently, the company generates revenue from oil production and from selling the carbon credits it gets for sequestering emissions. Alberta charges a carbon tax on heavy industrial emitters, but the province also has a system for companies to earn credits by reducing or storing emissions.

Jabusch said the Alberta government’s carbon tax program for large industrial emitters measures and monitors the carbon they sequester, but that data is not available publicly.

Injecting CO2 to increase output

Production from Enhance’s Clive field is around 200 barrels of oil per day, but with CO2 injection, the company expects output to gradually grow to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels per day over the next five years.

“We’re very negative today over the full cycle of our of our operation,” said Jabusch, “and in the long term, we think it would be very close to zero.

“Where carbon pricing is headed, we think there’s going to be a strong incentive to maximize the amount of CO2 we put in the ground.”

Enhance Energy is part of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line project, which takes emissions from the Nutrien Redwater fertilizer factory and the North West Redwater Sturgeon refinery northeast of Edmonton to Enhance’s oil reservoirs near Clive. (CBC News Graphics)

Whitecap has a similar, but much larger, carbon capture project in Saskatchewan. Emissions from a coal power plant in the province and from a coal gasification facility in neighbouring North Dakota are transported to an oilfield near Weyburn, south of Regina.

In each of the last two years, about two million tonnes of CO2 were injected and stored, executives said. The figures are currently being audited. 

The Weyburn facility has operated since 2000 and was acquired by Whitecap in 2017. With growing focus on sustainability and climate change, investor interest in the project has intensified over the last year, said chief executive Grant Fagerheim.

“We’re starting to get some of the bigger funds, not just from Canada, but in the U.S. for sure, and around the world,” he said.

Unlike Enhance, Whitecap does not account for the emissions that will be generated from the eventual use of its oil, saying it has no control over how it is used, making it difficult to calculate.

Enhance Energy says it currently produces about 200 barrels of oil per day, but with the help of carbon capture technology, plans to expand to 4,000 or 5,000 barrels a day. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Varying definitions of ‘negative’ emissions

How a company determines whether it claims net-zero or net-negative status varies across the industry and can depend on the emissions that a given company is counting, which are often broken into three groups, or scopes:

  • Scope 1 includes direct emissions from the activities of an organization, such as its industrial operations or the heating of its buildings.
  • Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions, such as if the company uses electricity from a CO2-generating source, such as a gas-fired power plant.
  • Scope 3 also includes indirect emissions, but ones that are out of the organization’s control. For an oil company, Scope 3 includes tailpipe emissions from vehicles or when oil is converted into plastics. The combustion of fuel is often the largest source of emissions from a barrel of oil, compared to production, transportation and refinery activity.

For Enhance, the company said it is net negative on Scope 1, 2 and 3 while Whitecap said it’s net negative on Scope 1 and 2.

By that definition, Whitecap expects to remain net negative even as its oil production increases by an estimated 65 per cent this year following deals to acquire Torc Oil & Gas and NAL Resources Management.

“We will still be a net-negative emitter,” he said. “It is nice to be in this position at this particular time.”

Projects can carry hefty price tag

Fagerheim says he would like to build new carbon capture facilities but that they can be complex projects requiring a large capital investment and new infrastructure, including pipelines.

“I believe that people will see the light of day, but ultimately, we’re doing what’s best for ourselves, and carbon capture utilization and storage is potentially a way into the future,” he said.

The two largest carbon capture projects in Alberta, including the Carbon Trunk Line that Enhance is part of, cost more than $1 billion to develop, and both required hundreds of millions of dollars in government support.

There’s growing interest in carbon capture projects. Last week, Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk promised a $100 million US prize for development of the “best” technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.

In Canada, one of the challenges with investing in a carbon capture project is the uncertainty about the level of carbon tax in the future since the approach to carbon pricing varies by political party.

WATCH | Is carbon capture a solution for the oil industry and climate change?

There are differing viewpoints on the technique to capture carbon emissions and use the CO2 to produce more oil from aging reservoirs. 2:50

Environmental concerns 

Environmental leaders have often had mixed feelings about carbon capture facilities because while harmful emissions are stored underground, the technology may just be enabling industries to maintain the status quo and not focus enough on reducing the use of fossil fuels.

“The science is fairly clear: we are going to need carbon capture in order to tackle the climate crisis,” Jan Gorski, an analyst with the Pembina Institute, a non-profit organization that produces research, analysis and recommendations on policies related to Canadian energy.

“Enhanced oil recovery is a way to ramp up carbon capture and drive down the costs and improve the technology as we work to eventually deploy that to tackling these more challenging sources where we really don’t have a great way to deal with the emissions right now.”

Knowledge gained from carbon capture projects operating now could eventually help reduce emissions in tougher-to-tackle industries such as cement plants and steel production, he said.

Jan Gorski with the Pembina Institute sees developing carbon capture and storage technology as beneficial, especially to eventually help with hard-to-decarbonize industries such as cement and steel production. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Some environmental groups suggest the investment in carbon capture facilities would be better spent elsewhere, such as building renewable energy projects. For example, a company could slash emissions in producing the oil, but consumers would still pump out emissions when they use it as a fuel for transportation or heating.

‘The devil is really in the details’

There is also the issue of double counting. Experts say it’s important for any action toward reducing emissions to be properly assessed. For instance, if the emissions from a power plant are used by an oil company to increase the production of an oilfield, both companies can’t take credit for the carbon-capture project.

“I think the key thing is to be clear-eyed about the end goal,” said David Keith, a Harvard University professor of applied physics and public policy based in Canmore, Alta.

Keith also founded and sits on the board of Carbon Engineering, which aims to capture emissions directly from the atmosphere. 

“For me anyway, the end goal has to be driving emissions down to zero to protect us from climate disaster and also doing it in a way that does the least damage to our economy and, in Alberta, trying to find a way forward to provide good jobs for people,” he said.

“Enhanced oil recovery can play some role, but I doubt if it’s going to be very big.”

If oil can actually be entirely net neutral or net negative from its production all the way to its end use, such as powering a vehicle, that would truly be fantastic, said Keith, but “whether or not those companies are doing it, I don’t know. The devil is really in the details.” 

Both companies see a strong future for carbon capture and EOR technologies, especially as demand for oil remains robust around the globe.

“The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy, and we believe we compete very well with that,” said Jabusch, with Enhance.

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Ontario Premier, COVID-19 vaccine team to speak as Pfizer dose deliveries slow to halt – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford and members of his cabinet and vaccine distribution task force will speak Monday as the province enters the week without any new deliveries of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Pfizer, the larger of two suppliers of two approved COVID-19 vaccines to Canada, said last week it would drastically reduce deliveries to the EU and Canada in February as it retools a manufacturing plant in order to boost its annual output by 700 million doses.

As a result, Canada will receive no Pfizer vaccine doses this week and between 66- 80 per cent fewer than expected doses for much of February.

However, the federal government says Ontario will receive more than 81,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by Feb. 7.

News of the delivery slowdown has prompted the province to narrow its vaccination effort to long-term care homes and high risk retirement residences.

It has also prompted federal officials to allow a doubling of the gap between doses of the vaccine in certain circumstances.

Ford will be joined by Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones at Queen’s Park this afternoon.

Ford has taken to assorted insults and threats to vent his frustration over the Pfizer delivery slowdown, calling the company’s official excuse about retooling a Belgian manufacturing plant “crap.”

When speaking about the delays last week, Ford, in reference to an unnamed Pfizer executive, said that he’d be “up that guy’s ying-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him.”

He has repeatedly publicly appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden to send Ontario one million of its Pfizer doses as a stop gap measure.

CP24 will broadcast Ford’s comments live at 1 p.m.

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