RECORD RETAIL SALES IN MAY
Released on July 23, 2014
Retail trade for May 2014 hit record levels, according to a report released by Statistics Canada today. Retail sales hit $1.6 billion in May, the highest ever recorded for the month.
“Saskatchewan’s economy is advancing, creating jobs and opportunities, which in turn is attracting more people and investment to the province,” Economy Minister Bill Boyd said. “The level of optimism and confidence has been steadily increasing and retailers have benefited from consumer demand for more goods.”
On a monthly basis, retail sales were up 1.0 per cent while on an annual basis, sales increased by 3.8 per cent.
“Record retail sales do have a significant impact on economic growth,” Boyd said. “Consumer confidence and support for the retail sector leads to a better quality of life for Saskatchewan families.”
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Mosaic to halt muriate of potash output in New Mexico
July 23 (Reuters) – U.S. fertilizer producer Mosaic Co said on Wednesday that it would permanently halt production of muriate of potash at its Carlsbad, New Mexico mine due to the quality of ore and age of the facility.
The Minnesota-based company said in a regulatory filing that it plans to continue producing a premium potash product at Carlsbad, called K-Mag. Mosaic also said it would continue to produce muriate of potash – the global commodity form of the crop nutrient – at its larger mines in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by James Dalgleish)
Upbeat BHP Billiton lifts output, boosts guidance
by: Matt Chambers
From: The Australian
July 23, 2014 12:41PM
BHP Billiton has smashed iron ore production expectations, reporting record output from its mines in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, and given strong guidance for this year.
But the big miner also revealed between $US900 million and $US1.3 billion of coming impairments in North America, including letting a potash terminal right at Vancouver lapse, and redundancy costs after cutting staff in coal, iron ore, nickel, aluminium, manganese and nickel businesses.
Investors responded positively to the reports with BHP shares 71c, or 1.8 per cent, firmer this morning, hitting a four-month high of $39.22 on the Australian Securities Exchange.
BHP said its share of WA iron ore production rose 19 per cent from the previous quarter to 56.64 million tonnes in the three months to June 30. This brought full-year production (including minority joint venture partners’ share) to 225 million tonnes.
In April, BHP upped its 2013-14 iron ore guidance to 217 million tonnes from an original target of 207 million.
UBS had predicted production of 220 million tonnes, based on export figures from Port Hedland, where BHP and Fortescue Metals Group export from.
This financial year, BHP said it planned to produce 245 million tonnes.
“Our focus on productivity has resulted in a significant improvement in operating performance at each of our major businesses this year, with a nine per cent increase in group production and record output at 12 operations,” chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said.
“Western Australia Iron Ore and Queensland Coal annual production exceeded guidance, with both rising by more than 20 per cent as we delivered more tonnes from existing infrastructure and growth projects ahead of schedule.”
Coking coal production rose 9 per cent in the quarter to 11.89 million tonnes, bringing full year production to 45.08 million tonnes and beating guidance of 43.5 million tonnes.
And the coal unit brought the $US3.7 billion Caval Ridge project in Queensland on early and under budget, just like the previous Daunia mine. Still, challenging market conditions meant the coal unit was only “marginally earnings before interest and tax positive” in the second half, BHP said.
More doubt was cast on BHP’s potash plans, on which it is spending $US2.6bn in Canada just to get ready to mine at an unspecified date, with BHP letting a port exclusivity agreement lapse.
“Our development schedule at Jansen provides us with the flexibility to consider a broad range of port and rail options,” BHP said.
BHP’s oil and gas production rose 9 per cent from the previous quarter to a record 64.7 million barrels of oil equivalent.
This brought full-year production to 246 million barrels, just beating guidance of 245 million barrels but in line with UBS forecasts.
Next year’s guidance is for 255 million barrels as the onshore US shale oil business continues to expand.
Maine port city bans oil loading as Canada seeks export options
SOUTH PORTLAND — Reuters
Published Tuesday, Jul. 22 2014, 11:40 AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Jul. 22 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
City councilors in South Portland, Maine, voted late Monday night to ban the loading of crude oil onto tankers along its waterfront, throwing up yet another roadblock to the export of Canadian oil sands crude and setting up a showdown with industry which called the process illegal.
The city of 25,000, known for its scenic lighthouses and sweeping views of the island-speckled waters of Casco Bay, is also the east coast’s second largest oil port, located at the southern terminus of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which currently flows north to Canada.
The so-called “Clear Skies Ordinance” would prevent the Portland Pipe Line company, principally owned by top Canadian oil refiners Suncor Energy Inc, Imperial Oil Ltd , and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, from reversing flow for export from the Portland Harbor.
The ordinance comes against the backdrop of strong environmental opposition to oil sands projects in the United States over fears about the potential impact of spills, and implications for climate change. The White House has for years delayed its decision on whether to allow TransCanada Corp to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta into Nebraska.
Hundreds of supporters in light blue t-shirts, many from neighboring towns that have already passed symbolic votes to ban the transport of “tar sands” through their towns, packed a South Portland Community Center to cheer the vote late Monday.
“This is not just a South Portland issue. This is not just a great state of Maine issue. This is an international issue,” said Peg Dilley, of nearby Casco, Maine, which lies along the pipeline’s route.
Pipeline company Vice President Tom Hardison told councilors that his company had no plans to reverse the pipeline’s flow, but added environmental concerns were based on emotion, not fact. The company and industry lobby group the American Petroleum Institute have promised to fight the ordinance.
“I think it’s a sad day when science and facts are lost in favor of politics and popularity,” Hardison said.
The Canadian government in March approved the reversal of pipeline company Enbridge Inc’s “line 9” pipe across central Canada, potentially putting a new supply of Albertan crude at Montreal’s doorstep, and raising the chances oil could flow south to Maine.
A reversal of Enbridge’s line 9, however, may not be enough to trigger a Portland-Montreal reversal, because the project’s 300,000 barrel per day capacity would meet only part of the demand from eastern Canadian refineries.
Maritime attorney Len Langer said South Portland’s ordinance could set a precedent, if it stands.
“The real question here is, can a municipality regulate interstate and foreign commerce?” he said. “If the answer is yes, then… we’ll see a lot more municipalities more aggressively regulating commerce within their borders.”
South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert told Reuters the ordinance was an exercise in local regulation.
“From the perspective of a locally elected official, it’s a simple issue. People fear this product could be damaging to the community, and they have asked us to act.”
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Obama approves opening U.S. Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration
ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. — The Associated Press
Published Friday, Jul. 18 2014, 10:22 AM EDT
Last updated Friday, Jul. 18 2014, 10:32 AM EDT
The Obama administration has approved the use of sonic cannons to explore for oil and gas off the Eastern Shore.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday formally approved guidelines for using air cannons in the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Delaware.
Energy companies could buy new oil and gas leases and begin drilling in 2018 if they find profitable reserves.
The guidelines are meant to protect endangered whales and other creatures from the loud noises and increased vessel traffic, but the government’s environmental impact study estimates that more than 138,000 sea creatures could be harmed.
The decision opens an area of the Eastern Seaboard larger than two Californias to exploration for the first time in decades.
Wind turbine fire risk: Number that catch alight each year is ten times higher than the industry admits
Wind turbine fire risk: Number that catch alight each year is ten times higher than the industry admits
- Nearly 120 turbines catch fire each year – the reported industry figure is 12
- Fire is second-largest cause of accidents after blade failure, research shows
- Figures compiled by Imperial College and University of Edinburgh engineers
By Ben Spencer
Published: 01:35 GMT, 17 July 2014
Updated: 10:05 GMT, 17 July 2014
Nearly 120 wind turbines catch fire each year, according to new research – ten times the number reported by the industry.
The figures, compiled by engineers at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh, make fire the second-largest cause of accidents after blade failure.
The researchers claim that out of 200,000 turbines around the world, 117 fires take place annually – far more than the 12 reported by wind farm companies.
Engineers at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh say 120 wind turbines catch fire each year. Here, a turbine in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, catches fire during severe weather
Fire has a huge financial impact on the industry, the researchers report in the journal Fire Safety Science.
Each wind turbine costs more than £2 million and generates an estimated income of more than £500,000 per year.
Any loss or downtime of these valuable assets makes the industry less viable and productive.
Dr Guillermo Rein of Imperial’s department of mechanical engineering, said: ‘Fires are a problem for the industry, impacting on energy production, economic output and emitting toxic fumes.
This could cast a shadow over the industry’s green credentials.
‘Worryingly our report shows that fire may be a bigger problem than what is currently reported. Our research outlines a number of strategies that can be adopted by the industry to make these turbines safer and more fire resistant in the future.’
Wind turbines catch fire because highly flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and plastics are in close proximity to machinery and electrical wires.
These can ignite a fire if they overheat or are faulty. Lots of oxygen, in the form of high winds, can quickly fan a fire inside a turbine, the paper found.
It contradicts the findings of a report into the wind industry, commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive in 2013, which concluded that the safety risks associated with wind turbines are very low.
The wind industry last night questioned the validity of the new research.
Chris Streatfeild, of Renewable UK which represents wind firms, said: ‘The industry would challenge a number of the assumptions made in the report, including the questionable reliability of the data sources and a failure to understand the safety and integrity standards for fire safety that are standard practice in any large wind turbine.
‘Wind turbines are designed to international standards to meet mandatory health and safety standards including fire safety risks.
‘The industry remains committed to promoting a safe environment for its workers and the public, and no member of the public has ever been injured by a wind turbine in the UK.’