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.”


For more information, contact:

Deb Young
Phone: 306-787-4765

Potash segment from BHP update #potash

July 23, 2014

BHP potash update July 2014

Mosaic to permanently halt muriate of potash output in New Mexico #potash

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)

BHP Jansen potash schedule is flexible #potash

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

Maine port city bans oil loading as Canada seeks export options
Dave Sherwood


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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Capital outflows shake Russia

22 Jul 2014
National Post
By John Shmue
Capital outflows shake Russia
Russia has a flair for intimidation, and it has a long and storied history of frightening off capital investment. But the recent confrontation between President Vladimir Putin and the West is scaring away investors in droves.
Following the July 17 downing of a Malaysia Air passenger jet in eastern Ukraine, widely blamed on Moscow backed rebels, U.S. exchange-traded funds that invest in Russia saw one of their biggest net outflows for the year — US$28.54-million pulled out for the five days ending July 18. Russia easily led all other emerging market countries in outflows.
Of course, foreign investors have had to resort to fleeing Mr. Putin’s antagonism before, but this time the country’s business elite appears to be reaching new levels of panic over the latest tension.
“The economic and business elite is just in horror,” Igor Bunin, who heads the Center for Political Technology in Moscow, told Bloomberg. But, he notes, there seems to still be little resolve among the oligarchy to stand up to Mr. Putin, given that breaking rank with the authoritarian president will result in business leaders being “brought to their knees.”
Already, this year, billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who owns metal conglomerate USM Holdings Ltd., and is Russia’s richest man, has seen the value of his wealth shrink US$2.5-billion amidst market fears; Leonid Mikhelson, who controls gas giant Novatek, has watched US$2-billion vanish; and investment mogul Mikhail Fridman has lost US$906-million.
Rusia's billionaires
Russia has developed a poor reputation among investors since it opened its economy up to the world in the early 1990s, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
One corporate poster boy for the difficulty of dealing with Russia is oil giant BP PLC, which spent nearly a decade clashing with the Russian government beginning in 1997. In that time it saw its Russian offices raided, corruption charges levied against its executives and its corporate assets seized.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC also irritated Moscow at around the same time, and was eventually forced to give up a stake in two oil and gas fields in 2006.
Many investors also still remember the trial of Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was arrested in 2003, after dissenting from Mr. Putin politically, had his oil company Yukos confiscated, and was sentenced to nine years in prison on dubious charges — a prime example of the risks of crossing Mr. Putin.
These are no doubt part of the reason why, even as analysts have noted that Russia’s stock market is among the cheapest in the world in terms of equity valuations, international money has been reluctant to invest in the country.
A poll of foreign investors by Bloomberg earlier this year found that Russia is considered the worst of the world’s biggest economies to invest in, with nearly 56% of respondents saying they would not invest. Another 75% said they were pessimistic about Mr. Putin’s policies and how they will affect Russia’s investment climate.
The growing pessimism among foreign investors has been pounding Russian stocks ever since the country became involved in Ukraine’s civil conflict earlier this year. The MICEX, Russia’s main stock index, hit its lowest point since mid-May on Monday, when it closed down 2.56% to 1,386.1 points.
Monday’s losses mean Russian stocks are now down nearly 8% since last week, when an escalation of fighting in Ukraine between government forces and Russian backed separatists led Washington to impose sanctions against large Russian domestic companies.
Russian stocks are the worst performing emerging market equities this year, down 12%, compared with an overall gain of 6% for the benchmark MSCI Emerging Market Index.
Analysts say that Russian stocks will continue to trend down unless Mr. Putin backs down from the current standoff over his support for the rebels — something he does not have a history of doing.
“Putin will have to either drop his support for the separatists or face tough sanctions,” said Andrey Vashevnik, who manages US$25-million as chief investment officer at R&B Investment Fund Ltd. in Moscow. “If new sanctions are imposed, they’ll probably hit the biggest Russian companies.”
Penalties have already been imposed by the U.S. on Russia’s state-run companies and the country’s political and economic elite, including billionaires Gennady Timchenko and Arkady Rotenberg.
Companies targeted by last week’s sanctions have been hit hard in recent days. Oil giant Rosneft closed down 2.52% on Monday, and is down 8% in the past week. Gas producer Novatek, was down 2.47 % and is down 9% since sanctions were announced.
And while sanctions have not targeted Russia’s largest banks, their stocks have nonetheless sunk on fears the country’s financial system will suffer from outflows in foreign money. Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, saw its shares drop 4.6% Monday.
“Though not on the sanctions list, Sberbank and VTB shares [the country’s second largest bank] will likely remain under pressure, along with the sector as a whole,” analysts at Morgan Stanley wrote in a note on Monday.
There is little to suggest that foreign investors will stop their rush for the exits anytime soon. Analysts warn that while the current sanctions are harming the Russian economy, the West has so far held off on truly damaging sanctions. That, combined with the prospect for a wider regional conflict, will continue to lead to outflows out of Russia.
“Unless Mr. Putin renounces this tragedy, massive sanctions will likely be imposed on Russia,” said Gabriel Borenstein, a managing director at Enclave Capital LLC, a brokerage in New York. “The Russian economy faces a potential major decompression.”

Obama approves opening U.S. Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration

Obama approves opening U.S. Eastern Seaboard to oil exploration

Jason Dearen

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.

Western Canadians support oil and gas expansion, but demand more from industry

Western Canadians support oil and gas expansion, but demand more from industry
By Yadullah Hussain
Financial Post
July 18, 2014 6:38 AM
Many Western Canadians are critical of the energy sector’s environmental performance and actively raise funds for or donate money to environmental causes, but still believe oil and gas development should be encouraged to grow, according to a new survey commissioned by the Canada West Foundation.
The poll, conducted to understand how Westerners feel about farming, forestry, mining and energy, reveals a knowledgeable community actively engaged with developments in the industry, with a third discussing the issue with families and friends.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid, surveyed about 3,000 Canadians mostly from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (600 were from Ontario).
It shows that 32% of Western Canadians said they would be critical of the energy industry when asked for their opinion, while 11% said they thought so poorly of the industry that they would offer a scathing assessment without even being asked. No other resource sector generated as high a level of unsolicited criticism.
“It is almost like an expectation that performance on jobs and economy are table stakes – they are the entry price,” said Len Coad, director of the Centre for Natural Resources Policy at Canada West, an independent, not-for-profit research group based in Calgary. “Western Canadians view the resource industries as integral to economic success, but their level of support and trust focuses more on safeguarding health and safety, protecting the natural environment and keeping commitments to communities.”
The survey suggests Westerners have a largely favourable view of farming and forestry, and were a bit befuddled by the mining sector. But they have strong views – positive and negative – on the energy sector.
Claiming to be generally knowledgeable about the industry, almost a quarter of the participants said they believe oil and gas – more so than any other sector – should be “encouraged to expand” in Western Canada. A third of the respondents said they would encourage young people to build their future in the energy industry, and just over a quarter said they were proud of the sector and were willing to work in the industry.
The reasons to distrust it were more focused. There was a strong link between lack of trust and perceptions the industry is motivated just by profit, perceived lack of social responsibility and perceived lack of environmental sustainability. “Only 20% of respondents trust the energy industry (and that is because of perceived economic contribution), but almost half distrust the industry because it is perceived as being motivated solely by financial gains,” Canada West said.
Only 19% of respondents said they had a better impression of the energy industry than they did a few years ago.
Not surprisingly, 41% believed government has the greatest influence on the energy sector. But the next biggest influencer was industry associations (29%), the survey said. The general public and aboriginal groups were seen as the least influential groups of people in determining industry practices. That is not to say Western Canadians don’t take environmental and community issues seriously. The survey showed that protecting public health and safety of communities and minimizing environmental impact on local communities emerged as the two most important issues for respondents. Close to a quarter of those surveyed said they donated money to an environmental or animal welfare organization in response to energy issues. Another 14% said they helped raise money for such causes.
The participants’ heightened awareness of the energy industry underscores how the sector has become a topic of so called dinnertable discussions. Just over a third of the participants said they had discussed energy issues with a family member or friend, and 14% had visited a website focused on the energy sector.

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.’

May a month of new records, challenges for Saskatchewan manufacturers

May a month of new records, challenges for Saskatchewan manufacturers
REGINA (July 17, 2014) — For the second straight month, Saskatchewan manufacturing sales climbed to a new record high in May, peaking at nearly $1.5 billion. But, according to the association representing manufacturers in the province, shifting pressures in both domestic and global markets, coupled with ongoing productivity and workforce challenges, are adding caution to an otherwise optimistic outlook for the remainder of the year.
Officials with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and the CME-led Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council (SMC) say that, while May figures were up 2.4 per cent on the month and 4.8 per cent year-over-year, trends in output and in strategic sub-sectors of Saskatchewan’s value chain are key reasons to remain vigilant.
“It’s no secret that the first five months of 2014 have been exceptionally strong for Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector as a collective,” explains CME Vice President & SMC Executive Director, Derek Lothian. “In fact, in that timeframe, the industry has expanded more than nine per cent from 2013. Business conditions however are ever-changing, and whether it’s due to dampened demand for products in the resources sector or a widening gap in our regional skills availability, we need to make sure the supports are there to allow manufacturers to be agile, invest and grow.”
Lothian notes that, since January, machinery sales have dropped by nearly five per cent; and, although fabricated metal has rebounded seven per cent so far on the year, it is still off pace to recoup the double-digit loss suffered in 2013.
Certain areas of the province, meanwhile, continue to battle significant skills and labour shortages as well. Compared to pre-recession levels (2007), the sales-per-employee of Saskatchewan manufacturers have increased by more than 78 per cent. Lothian points to such projects as the new Saskatchewan Manufacturing Centre of Excellence, expected to launch later this year with the support of the provincial government, as vital to lessening the strain.
“We’re fortunate that the challenges in front of us are definitely ones we can overcome,” he says. “To do that, though, we must do what Saskatchewan does best — work together. We have a world-class manufacturing sector in this province that rivals the level of innovation and quality of any on the planet; but our challenges are unique, and so, too, must be our approach to solutions.”
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For more information, contact:
Derek Lothian
Vice President, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Executive Director, Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council
Phone: (306) 713-3765
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