Business Editor Charles Frank (2007) cites a FirstEnergy Capital Corp newsletter to clients comparing Alberta’s provincially-funded analysis “Our Fair Share” chaired by Bill Hunter on royalties, to the modus operandi of socialist governments Kazakhstan and Venezuela. Premier Ed Stelmach commissioned a full analysis of provincial royalties as the price of a barrel of oil soared. It is now c. $82.881 a barrel. (It has to be $50 a barrel to extraction of oil from the oil sands profitable.)

EnCana CEO Randall K. Eresman threatened to redirect a billion dollars of EnCana’s planned capital investment out of Alberta to other parts of Canada or the United States if Premier Stelmach adopt’s the “Our Fair Share” report proposals in their entirety.

2007-10-02 Saskatchewan politicians hope that companies like EnCana will act on their bluff and move at least part of their billion dollar threat out of Alberta and into Saskatchewan if royalties are raised too much. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers industry vice-president David Pryce adds to the oil companies threats saying that if Alberta opts for their fair share of royalties the oil companies will shift activity to the other jurisdictions like Saskatchewan. However, even though Saskatchewan politicians might hold out for awhile, they would pay at the polls just like Stelmach if they continue to operate their energy sector as if the rules of the 1970s still apply. Alberta has lower corporate taxes, no provincial sales tax and no resource royalty surcharge so how much is Saskatchewan willing to give away to enjoy an Alberta boom? (Wood 2007-10-02). Do they really want the housing crisis, the long delays in service to drive their thriving economy even more? Are they willing to forego their fair share to entice fickle oil companies to their province.

CBC. 2007-10-05 ConocoPhillips President Kevin Meyers threatened Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach that ConocoPhillips will postpone $8 billion proposed oilsands projects. Meyers claimed that if royalties are raised as suggested in Our Fair Share and by the Alberta auditor ConocoPhillips would lose an oilsands project worth $500 million next year. They threaten to cut 30 to 40% of the $2.5 billion to $3 billion it plans to spend in 2008 on Alberta-based activity. It is estimated that if all the recommendations of Our Fair Share were implemented, the Alberta government would benefit by $2 billion a year. Alberta has a history of hospitality for oil and gas companies with the low energy royalties (based on oil at ?20 a barrel versus $80 and rising4), no provincial sales tax, no Alberta has lower corporate taxes, no provincial sales tax and no resource royalty surcharge. Oilsands developers have been allowed to use Alberta’s limited natural gas resources to extract their oil as quickly as possible instead of slower technology-intense methods. (Even the oil industry DOE report urges the need for patient money). Images of the Fort McMurray’s envirnomental nightmare landscape of Fort McMurray are courteously not shown around at dinner tables (although in quieter voices Albertans will ask, “Have you ever been to Fort McMurray?”).

Who’s Who

EnCana 10th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: EnCana with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 431/500 (previously 396/500) and revenues of $17,081.0 millions. EnCana’s profits are $5,652.0 million; Assets: $35,106.0 Million; Stockholders’ Equity: $17,466.0 million. CEO Randall K. Eresman. It has 4,678 employees and is located at 855 2nd St. S.W., Calgary T2P 2S5, Canada, Phone: 403-645-2000
Website: www.encana.com
FirstEnergy Capital Corp. (started c. 1994) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Its 79 employees including CEO Jim Davidson, Jill Angevine, Vice-President of institutional research, John

Chambers, Ruby Wallis, Bev Thompson, Sheila Kaiser, Margie Gal, and Angelique Cyr work long days beginning at 6:15 AM and engage in the high-pressure industry of investment dealing. These investment dealings and transactions individually involve multi-millions and even billions of dollars of financings2. It is located at 1100, 311 – 6 Avenue SW, Calgary Alberta T2P 3H2 (FirstEnergy Capital (USA) Corp. is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.) The firm has raised $7 million for Calgary’s less fortunate. It now supports over 200 charities. (Every year, [they] allocate a minimum of 2.5 percent of our gross profits to charitable organizations and community groups. Often, [they] significantly exceed this minimum donation. These actions illustrate the strong sense of community that is part of [their] corporate culture.” For example a party they hosted during the rodeo with 1500 guests raised $200,000 for Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA), Calgary Quest School and the Parks Foundation Calgary. In June 2006 CalgaryInc named them as the best place to work in Calgary. As well according to their own site “Canadian Business magazine ran a very complimentary article on FirstEnergy in the August 2007 edition covering the firm back to inception and including a mention of our expanded relationship with Société Générale.”

FirstEnergy Capital Corp FirstNews for investors tracks changes in the price of oil, gas through indicators such as unseasonable temperatures (for example in Toronto) or weather disturbances (such as hurricanes), consumer confidence, industry takeovers, bankruptcies, labour disputes, changes in interest rates, the housing market, oil and gas inventories and industry regulation. For example on September 25 they reported that “U.S. stocks fell on Monday, after news that Germany’s largest bank may take a hit from sub-prime mortgage investments. Citigroup and other banks fell after sources said the exposure could reduce Deutsche Bank’s profit by $2.4 billion. Furthermore, the first nation wide strike at General Motors in 37 years raised concerns about the economic outlook. Shares of auto parts suppliers fell, led by a 3% drop in Lear Corp. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 61.13 points to end at 13,759.06, while the NASDAQ fell 3.27 points to close at 2,667.95 (FirstNews 2007-09-25).”

Timeline

1992 Kazakhstan adopted among the world’s most open investment laws in order to encourage development.

2002 After the April 2002 aborted coup against Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, many observers accused Washington of having been behind the attempted ouster. The Bush administration denied any U.S. involvement in the affair. However, one relatively clear connection emerged between the U.S. government and the anti-Chávez movement: millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money channeled through the IRI and other U.S. organizations that funded groups opposed to Chávez during the years preceding the April coup. Writer Mike Ceaser reported that in an April 12, 2002, fax sent to news media, IRI President George A. Folsom rejoiced over Chávez’s removal from power. “The Venezuelan people rose up to defend democracy in their country,” he wrote. “Venezuelans were provoked into action as a result of systematic repression by the government of Hugo Chávez.” With NED funding, IRI had been sponsoring political party-building workshops and other anti-Chávez activities in Venezuela. “IRI evidently began opposing Chávez even before his 1998 election,” wrote Ceaser. “Prior to that year’s congressional and presidential elections, the IRI worked with Venezuelan organizations critical of Chávez to run newspaper ads, TV, and radio spots that several observers characterize as anti-Chávez” (Ceaser 2002). (IRI 2007)

2007-09-25
Rumours circulate that Germany’s largest bank may take a hit from sub-prime mortgage investments (FirstNews 2007-09-25).

2007-09-25 The first nation wide strike at General Motors in 37 years raised concerns about the economic outlook. Shares of auto parts suppliers fell, led by a 3% drop in Lear Corp. (FirstNews 2007-09-25).

2007-09-28 The Global Energy Conference for members only was held in Toronto, Canada on September 28 and announced on FirstEnergy Capital Corp. website.

2007-09-28 “The Kazakh parliament unanimously approved a bill Sept. 26 that would allow the government to modify or break any contract unilaterally in which the “interests of Kazakhstan” are threatened (as defined by the government). They are demanding royalties of 40% up from 30%. Kazakhstan now produces 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil, and if the projects currently signed are completed, within 10 years it hopes to be producing 3.5 million bpd [. . .] Royal Dutch/Shell, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips are part of the oil consortium developing Kazakhstan’s oil. [. . .] The best that Kazakhstan [might end up with a] Venezuela-like situation, in which foreigners freeze all expansion efforts and focus solely on inexpensive methods of maintaining existing output. In Venezuela output has fallen from 3.5 million bpd to 2.3 million bpd since government restrictions began 10 years ago. One of Kazakhstan’sfields is one of the most technically challenging in existence, boasting vertical and variable deposits loaded with high-pressure hydrogen sulfide. The field itself is in a high wind zone that freezes over in the winter. Kashagan will be the most technically challenging — and expensive — oil project ever attempted.” [China has the capital to invest in Kazakhstan but perhaps lacks the technology for now (Offnews.info 2007).”

2007-10-02 Saskatchewan politicians hope that companies like EnCana will act on their bluff and move at least part of their billion dollar threat out of Alberta and into Saskatchewan if royalties are raised too much. Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers industry vice-president David Pryce adds to the oil companies threats saying that if Alberta opts for their fair share of royalties the oil companies will shift activity to the other jurisdictions like Saskatchewan. However, even though Saskatchewan politicians might hold out for awhile, they would pay at the polls just like Stelmach if they continue to operate their energy sector as if the rules of the 1970s still apply. Alberta has lower corporate taxes, no provincial sales tax and no resource royalty surcharge so how much is Saskatchewan willing to give away to enjoy an Alberta boom? (Wood 2007-10-02). Do they really want the housing crisis, the long delays in service to drive their thriving economy even more? Are they willing to forego their fair share to entice fickle oil companies to their province.

CBC. 2007-10-05 ConocoPhillips President Kevin Meyers threatened Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach that ConocoPhillips will postpone $8 billion proposed oilsands projects. Meyers claimed that if royalties are raised as suggested in Our Fair Share and by the Alberta auditor ConocoPhillips would lose an oilsands project worth $500 million next year. They threaten to cut 30 to 40% of the $2.5 billion to $3 billion it plans to spend in 2008 on Alberta-based activity. It is estimated that if all the recommendations of Our Fair Share were implemented, the Alberta government would benefit by $2 billion a year. Alberta has a history of hospitality for oil and gas companies with the low energy royalties (based on oil at ?20 a barrel versus $80 and rising4), no provincial sales tax, no Alberta has lower corporate taxes, no provincial sales tax and no resource royalty surcharge. Oilsands developers have been allowed to use Alberta’s limited natural gas resources to extract their oil as quickly as possible instead of slower technology-intense methods. (Even the oil industry DOE report urges the need for patient money). Images of the Fort McMurray’s envirnomental nightmare landscape of Fort McMurray are courteously not shown around at dinner tables (although in quieter voices Albertans will ask, “Have you ever been to Fort McMurray?”).

Footnotes

1. “Crude oil prices posted big gains on the day. The continued decline of the U.S. dollar and concerns that supply may not be able to meet demand this coming winter, fuelled the price increase. NYMEX light sweet crude for November delivery gained $2.58 to end at $82.88 per barrel [. . .] Canadian stocks continued their five day rally closing higher on strong commodity prices. The government also reported a $13.8 billion budget surplus for fiscal 2006-07, which will be used to pay down debt. Suncor Energy was the biggest weighted gainer, up $2.17 or 2.3% to $95.71. The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 94.76 points to close at 14,129.73. [. . .] U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday, as energy shares were elevated by higher oil prices. However, a report released earlier in the day showed a plunge in new home sales and the sharpest year-over-year drop in prices in nearly 37 years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 34.79 points to 13,912.94, while the NASDAQ gained 10.56 points to close at 2,709.59. (FirstNews 2007-09-28).”

2. In an online summary FirstEnergy includes in their recent report on their 800 financings and over 200 M&A assignments that they has participated in since c. 1994.$701,000,000 disposition by EnCana Corporation of its Interest in Petrovera Resources LimitedPartnership in January 2004. Others are: $495,000,000: the Sale of Sound Energy Trust to Advantage Energy Income Fund in September 2007; $3,500,000,000: of CCS Income Trust as Formal Valuator and Advisor to the Independent Committee September 2007; $508,000,000: Sale of Capitol Energy Resources Ltd. to Provident Energy Trust. June 2007; $91,000,000 Compton Petroleum Corporation Acquisition of Stylus Energy Inc.August 2007; $980,000,000 for TriStar Oil & Gas Merger with Real Resources Inc. August 2007; $440,000,000 Sale of Find Energy Ltd. to Shiningbank Energy Income Fund September 2006; $431,000,000 True Energy Trust Acquisition of Prairie Schooner Petroleum Ltd. September 2006; $1,500,000,000 Savanna Energy Services Corp. Merger with Western Lakota Energy Services Inc. August 2006; $320,000,000 Highpine Oil & Gas Limited Acquisition of Kick Energy Corp. August 2006; $4,000,000,000 Viking Energy Royalty Trust Merger with Harvest Energy Trust February 2006; $4,400,000,000 Precision Drilling Corporation Reorganization into an Income Trust November 2005; $350,000,000 UTS Energy Corporation Partnership and Asset Sale to Teck Cominco Limited December 2005; $1,400,000,000 Cequel Energy Inc. and Progress Energy Ltd. Merger and Reorganization into a Trust and Spinout of ProEx Energy Ltd. and Cyries Energy Inc. April 2004.

 

3. 1st place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: Anglo American with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 195/500 and revenues of $33,072.0 million; 2nd place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: BHP Billiton with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 205/500 and revenues:$32,153.0 millions; 3rd place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: Rio Tinto Group with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 313/500 and revenues:$22,465.0 millions; 4th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: RAG with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 345/500 and revenues:$20,365.0 millions; 5th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: CVRD with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 359/500 and revenues:$19,651.0 millions; 6th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: Oil & Natural Gas with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 369/500 and revenues:$19,237.4 millions; 7th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: Occidental Petroleum with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 377/500 and revenues:$19,029.0 millions; 8th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: Surgutneftegas with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 392/500 and revenues:$18,413.1 millions; 9th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: Xstrata with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 414/500 and revenues:$17,632.0 millions; 10th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: EnCana with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 431/500 and revenues:$17,081.0 millions; 11th place in Fortune Global 500’s Mining, Crude-oil production Industry: China National Offshore Oil with an overall Fortune 500 rank of 469/500 and revenues:$16,038.9 millions.

4. Not to mention Tertzakian’s $100 a barrel peak!


Webliography and Bibliography

2007. “EnCana.” Snapshots. Fortune Global 500. September 30. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2007/snapshots/11155.html

CBC. 2007-10-05 “Energy giant rages against plan to hike Alberta royalties.” http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2007/10/05/royalties-protests.html

Ceaser, Mike. 2002. “As Turmoil Deepens in Venezuela, Questions Regarding NED Activities Remain Unanswered,” Americas Program, December 9.

FirstNews. 2007. FirstEnergy Capital Corp. September 28. http://firstenergy.com/research/news/News-2007-09-25.pdf

FirstNews. 2007. FirstEnergy Capital Corp. September 28. http://firstenergy.com/research/news/News-2007-09-28.pdf

Frank, Charles. 2007. “Tough Talk Just the Start to Ugly Royalty Fight.” Calgary Business. Calgary Herald. September 29. C1 & c14.

(IRI) International Republican Institute. 2007. Right Web Profile. Silver City, NM: International Relations Center, July 19.

Offnews.info. 2007. “Kazakhstan – End of an Era.” Offnews.info. Buenos Aires, Argentina. September 30. http://www.offnews.info/verArticulo.php?contenidoID=9429

Wood, James. 2007. “Politicians in no mood to alter Sask. energy royalties system.” The StarPhoenix. Saskatoon.


Creative Commons License 2.5 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Fear Industry marries Oil Industry: Albertastan? Canazuela? Who’s Afraid of Social[ism] Capital?” http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_380dvhvz9 September 30. Creative Commons License 2.5 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Fear Industry marries Oil Industry: Albertastan? Canazuela? Who’s Afraid of Social[ism] Capital?” >> Speechless. September 30.


Patrick Watson (1980) vs CTV (2007): the case of Conrad Black: The Canadian Establishment and governance.

Throughout the trial of Conrad Black I wondered why Patrick Watson‘s articulate and well-researched CBC documentary entitled the Canadian Establishment (1980), was not viewed on CBC. Conrad Black was known for a strong and effective offensive tactics when dealing with his image management in the press and until the guilty verdict became publicized the media was discouraged from entirely objective coverage. This may change now that the jury has revealed to their decision. CTV coverage reveals a pro-Black bias describing him as stoic, proud, even …onian, in the face of this trial, almost agreeing with Conrad Black that he is somehow above the law. However, he did glare and skowl at the jury when they gave their decision. They describe how he helped every community he was a part of. They admire his rise from his university education to an emerging career with the press to the circle of the uber-wealthy. They expect him to stand up to this and continue to argue for his own innocence. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice where he removed evidence from his Toronto office and of email fraud which hold a combined possible sentence of 10 to 65 years. Charges of racketeering were dismissed. Nonetheless he stole millions of dollars from Hollinger, and continues to feel no remorse. There appears to be a strong empathetic response to the potential of his doing his real jailtime in an American jail where he is actually going to have to do work such as laundry. There is speculation and some relief that since he is so ‘astute’ in terms of money that he will have provided for himself and his family, Barbara Amiel, their son and daughter, Alanna in some ‘legal’ fashion. CTV journalists are comparing the American and Canadian legal systems in terms of fairness and approaches to access to jury information. They mused about whether American courts would be harsher on Black and his co-accused than their Canadian counterparts who would be more influenced by Black’s position of power, wealth and prestige. They seem to admire Black for his intelligence and his ability to write and do research and imagine him using his minimum security prison to study and write. Although others argue that an American minimium security prison is not an exclusive club prison like those in Canada and Black will not have access to a computer. CTV interviewees describe Black as someone very concerned with his place in history. CTV journalists look for ‘silver lining’ in his situation. They wonder how Black will survive from now to his sentence hearing by Judge … in November. He is no longer a Canadian citizen since he abandoned it to become a British Lord. This means he has no rights to go to Canadian jails which are considered to be friendlier to the uber-wealthy. Black is expected to begin quickly to appeal the jury’s findings. This will not be stalling the sentencing hearing.

What makes Watson’s (1980) revelations so compelling at this time is the way in which he reveals Black’s roots as outsider on Bay Street until he was able to take advantage of widows of Establishment members to get his toe in the door. While Black’s father had some wealth through his brewery, his family lacked the prestige and power of the Canadian Establishment. According to Watson, it was during the era of Conrad Black that the Establishment shifted towards an even more self-serving attitude of entitlement. His business ethics predates that of the mean-spirited arrogance of the financeers in the 1990s. He seems to embody that which is dysfunctional and unsustainable in a social world corrupted by extremes of wealth and poverty.

My own concern with Black was the role he played as media mogul in obstructing access to an objective press, a keystone of democracy. Like the the New Brunswick-Bahamas Irvings prior to their ethical turn, mass media moguls adopt Friedman’s motto that their sole responsibility is to make money. Black claimed that he hoped to provide more of a pro-business, economic efficiency viewpoint to counteract the perceived social justice bias of the media (Flynn-Burhoe).

Do we secretly admire white collar criminals and their brilliant lawyers? Conrad Black and three others are accused of stealing $60M from shareholders to fatten their 5- and 7-figure salaries. Prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer claimed in his opening statement that media mogul Black failed to provide the public with objective accounts of world affairs.

read more | digg story

CTV News. 2007. Conrad Black. July 13, 2007.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2006. “Media and Objectivity: a Selected Timeline of Social Events.” >> papergirls. December 6.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007.

Is the Mass Media Coverage Biased in Favour of Conrad Black?”>> papergirls. May 9, 2007.

Watson, Patrick. 1980. The Canadian Establishment. CBC.

Patrick Watson.” Museum TV Archives.

Affluenza: Aflicktion

December 14, 2006


I think my family caught affluenza in the late 19th century. That might explain why my great-grandparents were personal aquaintances of Prince Albert but their son Albert, worked as an electrician on the Canadian National Railway. Fanny and Charles spent a good part of their married life on transatlantic trips. According to on-line ship’s records they made at least one of these with the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne (1878-1882) and his wife, Princess Louise. Fanny Peake, the daughter of James Peake, one of the 19th century entrepreneurs who built fortunes on ships and shipping, grew up in Beaconsfield, a Victorian mansion designed by Harris, brother of the artist Robert Harris, RCA. We grew up with these stories which seemed so incredulous; they seemed more like fiction that reality. My mother Fanny loved to tell us about her father, who a few years before his death, literally gave away the vestiges of his portion of the Peake-Leigh. During the Depression the tenants could no longer pay their rent. He gave the renters the deed to their homes.

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