Saturday, 28 January 2012

Ninguém muda ninguém. / No one changes anyone.

(Uh oh ... Have I said this all before?)
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face.Peter Sale.There is a process at the Toronto Public Library (TPL) to ask that a title be purchased - worthy of Kafka so I don't very often indulge. Anyway, it payed out this time - four copies have been ordered and it is now available to be 'held' (sounds like a 21st century sex act).

So, go with your trusty TPL card and 'place' a 'hold' on Our Dying Planet: An Ecologist's View of the Crisis We Face by Peter F. Sale.

Jane Pyper, TPL Librarian.Karen Stintz, TTC Chair.Speaking of sex acts ... two Toronto women (I want to call them 'blonde bookends' though both are competent in the extreme; and one has no idea what colour their DNA is): Jane Pyper, the City Librarian; and Karen Stintz, TTC Chair; bracketing (as it were) two ultimately important front-lines ... I'll leave it there.

A sweet girl once said to me (with a smile), "Ninguém pertence pra ninguém." / No one belongs to anyone. She is a devotee of candomblé and this song by Virgínia Rodrigues, Depois Que o Ilê Passar, brings that moment to mind (another was sitting together at Teatro Rival in Rio listening to her sing it):

Virgínia Rodrigues.     Rebentou, Ilê Ayê Curuzu
     Toque de Angola Ijexá
     Vamos pra cama meu bem
     Me pegue agora
     Me dê uma beijo gostoso
     Pode até me amassar
     Mas me solte quando o Ilê passar
     Quero ver você, Ilê Ayê passar por aqui
     Não me pegue não me toque
     Por favor não me provoque
     Eu só quero ver o Ilê passar
     Quero ver você, Ilê Ayê passar por aqui

[Teatro Rival (aka Petrobras Teatro Rival) is just a few blocks away from the buildings that collapsed on Avenida Treze de Maio this week in Rio (Treze de Maio / May 13, was the date in 1888 when slavery was 'officially' abolished in Brasil, though it has yet to be accomplished); here's a map. It happens every few years (always during renovations it seems) - a big piece of Hotel Canadá fell onto the street in 2007, and a building on Rio Branco near Assembléia collapsed in 2003 sometime. Strange I know but it is one of the things I like about Brasil.]

Ilê Ayê is a musical group, a huge one, formed in the 70's - a big part of Carnaval in Salvador (where Gilberto Gil comes from). Ilê Ayê might also be a Yoruba (a kind of people, a tribe, uma nação from Nigeria) expression meaning 'the house of life'. Curuzu is a neighbourhood in Salvador where Ilê Ayê (the group) began. Ijexá is a kind of music, a rhythm, also a(nother) kind of people from Nigeria, and a kind of Capoeira (which some people call 'Brasilian ju-jitsu' but it is more like a dance).

Virgínia Rodrigues.     It burst (busted) out, Ilê Ayê Curuzu
     A touch of Angola Ijexá
     Come to bed sweetheart
     Take me now
     Give me a delicious kiss
     You can even crush me
     But let me go when Ilê passes by
     I want to see you, Ilê Ayê passes by here
     Don't hold me, don't touch me
     Please don't tempt me
     I just want to see Ilê pass by
     I want to see you, Ilê Ayê passes by here

'Ninguém muda ninguém' by André Dahmer.It is looking like I am entirely wrong about despair not necessarily leading to paralysis. I still don't think it's 'necessary' but here I am, paralysed, stopped, parado; QED.

Best not to mess (I guess) with bourgeois notions at all unless you have a fireproof floor. I had the ætiology all screwed up - ignored (at my peril) certain social feedback effects. (Could it possibly have to do with Karma? Fear is more like it - 'It's catching y'know'.)

But there's paralysis, and then there is just not moving - hard to distinguish from the outside - catalepsy vs some kind of voluntary renunciation ... a form of, say, transcendental meditation? Or a convoluted passive-aggressive response to isolation, shunning (implicit and explicit)? Or ... a simple lack of resonance?

One of Fernando Meirelles' early films, Domésticas / Maids, includes a fellow who loses his life somehow and winds up in a chair watching TV; until one day his wife comes home (from her job as a maid) and finds him still sitting in the chair, dead. The next husband seems to be going the same way until she realizes that 'It's the chair!' and gets rid of it (it's a comedy y'unnerstan').

I admit it! When I first saw 'Lake Titicaca" in the headline (Urban population boom threatens Lake Titicaca) I thought it was Mexico City - didn't there used to be a famous lake there?

Of course Titicaca is really on the border between Bolivia & Peru, not far from the Bolivian capital La Paz - here's a map (you knew all this already right?).

One of the highest lakes on the planet - high enough that there are measurable climatic effects associated with increased insolation.

A-and it turns out there is a smallish island in Lake Titicaca, Isla Amantaní, with two hills on it and (naturally) two hilltops: one dedicated to Pachamama and one to Pachatata; and even a hint of love in the name 'Amantani' don't you think? Earth Father doesn't show his face too often but ... yeah.

There is evidence of liminality stretching back over some longish period of time in the form of at-least-partially corbelled stone arches (a tradition carried on admirably by the tourism marketeers and the Catholic Church - but with concrete).

Transcanada, Alex Pourbaix.Transcanada, Alex Pourbaix.Transcanada, Alex Pourbaix.Mr. Alexander J. Pourbaix has been President of Energy and Oil Pipelines at TransCanada PipeLines Limited (aka TransCanada Corp.) since July 2010. ... Mr. Pourbaix is a 2002-2003 recipient of Canada's 'Top 40 Under 40' Award for leadership excellence (see Bloomberg).

In the first picture there do seem to be several lackeys trailing behind; so, four million a year is about right then?

A lawyer with a name like 'FromBeneath' working for Transcanada; wedding ring on the finger there; an honourable man, no doubt about it.

TransCanada, Hal Kvisle.TransCanada, Hal Kvisle with Sarah Palin & Dennis McConaghy.TransCanada, Hal Kvisle with Jim Prentice & John Lounds.TransCanada, Hal Kvisle & wife Diana Dagg.Then I went to the barber for a haircut and read this as I waited: 'CEO of the Year: Cool under pressure' from October 2008 (see below) - Hal Kvisle CEO (now past-CEO) of TransCanada. An engineer with an MBA and the instigator of Keystone & Keystone XL. Not a tall man.

In the interview he says, "... I’ve always been determined that anything I’m involved in is not going to be built in a way that harms the environment." I expect he believes it. Eight million a year and worth every penny.

Terry Gou.Terry Gou.Terry Gou.Terry Gou.The story of Terry Gou and Foxconn; weaving as it does around Steve Jobs and his iStuff (iShit?).

Which brings us back around to the last sentence of Limits to Growth:
The crux of the matter is not only whether the human species will survive, but even more whether it can survive without falling into a state of worthless existence.
[The last chapter of Limits to Growth can be found here (.pdf, pages 17-21).]

Without knowing what things were like before, our grandchildren may very well view the state of the planet they inherit as 'normal' (because yes, some of our grandchildren will still be on it - extinction, even when a meteor strikes, doesn't happen overnight). In that sense, Terry Gou's mistake (not a 'mistake' exactly, but you know what I mean) might have been just - moving too quickly.

Some perspective on 'quickly': David Suzuki is reported here:
After 50 years of working in Canada and the world for a planet he revers he told the audience that our Earth is in "far worse shape" than it was when he began and that progress "has gone backwards."
[I trust he actually said 'reveres'.]
It is about the same story with John Porter (a generation before Suzuki) on social inequality: The vertical mosaic: an analysis of social class and power in Canada in 1965, and The measure of Canadian society: education, equality and opportunity in 1987.

Simon Critchley.Some perspective on jumping to conclusions: Ol' Simon wazizname ... Critchley (whom I was dissing in the post on Peter Sale's book).

I remember some (almost forgotten) when, picking up Simon Critchley and putting him down again for some reason. Then recently a friend mentioned him so I went to the library and ordered up Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance from 2007.

Simon Critchley.But it was slow coming, so in the meantime I got Very Little... Almost Nothing: Death, Philosophy, Literature (1997), found it impossibly opaque, threw it at the wall and moved on.

So that when Infinitely Demanding finally arrived I nearly skipped it. Glad I didn't - more on remedies for nihilism next time.

This video from September 2008 (before Obama's election) is interesting (he's more than a bit of a show-off): Branding Democracy: Barack Obama and the American Void (and at Fora TV). (But I like it when he disses Charles Taylor.)

But, seriously folks ... the idea of fundamental politial myth, fiction, a ficção ... of course it is; the power of the people is real enough, while Divine Right of Kings and Perfect Union are management inventions.

Shawn Atleo.Klaus Schwab.Stephen Harper.Stephen Harper.Blancmange (speaking of fiction): The only video I could find is at MSN; transcripts can be found here & here; and I grabbed (poor but watchable) videos of the speech and the Q&A session following (in case they take the MSN one down).

I include a picture of Shawn Atleo ... well, why not? A pawn in the game. Pawns are important too.

Milton Friedman.Milton Friedman.Augusto Pinochet.Augusto Pinochet.Who was that economics guy? Chicago School was it? ... Oh yeah - Milton Friedman; and he and his colleagues, students, tap dancing with Augusto Pinochet in Chile. It is clear that our Milton is not very tall from that first photograph - and his feet are not even in it!

Watching Stephen Harper's Davos speech a few times (as I had to do to grab it) I was remembering certain sermons by certain preachers I have known - they way their mouths go when they are nailing it down tight around sin (or lemons). Times're gonna stay tough ... yup; gotta do what we gotta do to ensure growth ...

These two verses (15 & 16) in Matthew only work in isolation for me. He embeds them into a procedure which effectively leads to shunning. Taken out of context they make (a bit) more sense:
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
'Ninguém muda ninguém' by André Dahmer.Well ... even the second verse already seems to be headed off somewhere compulsive. What exactly could it mean to 'establish' a word in someone's mouth I wonder? Don't know, and only a very limited subset of the possibilities is appealing - if it means the equivalent of 'point taken' then I am with it, otherwise not.

Even that 'gained' in the first verse could be a trap - why not 'regained'? Or 'restored'?

I think someone told me once that the Amish (or the Quakers was it?) use this verse as a prime mover, and even not knowing any more about it than that has endeared them all to me (to a degree).

Quem manda nessa porra sou eu. / Who orders this shit is me.Who orders this shit is me.
KOÉ?! / Say what?!

The existential-self-referential pork sausage version of Oroborus.

I can't find much on the artist, Luimau (maybe a nick-name?); the only website I can find is Osso Vozes, which stopped in 2009.

The trail led from Benett to Salmonelas to Porko Parade and Issi Vizes/Osso Vozes and stopped with this editorial:
Osso Vozes destrata a vida de um cartunista que quase nunca desenha, troca o incerto pelo errado mesmo, mistura minas com bombas e, principalmente, não tem uma idéia geral do que seja essa tira. Lui, um cartunista desproporcional.
[... Ah, his name is Lui Duarte, and indeed, he is still busy, just last week in Fortaleza (in the Brasilian state of Ceará - map) at Sobrado Dr. José Lourenço.]

No one changes anyone? No one belongs to anyone? Au contraire, mon cher frère! Infinitesimally small as they may be, the only changes that occur (like the shoreline and the sea) are there in the interstitial zone (or in the possibly imaginary one involving God). :-) There is no other there ... there. Is there?

Be well gentle reader.
[Is that 'interstitial' or 'intertidal'?]

Postscript: Le Rendez-vous (refrain)

Garderez-vous parmi vos souvenirs
Ce rendez-vous où je n'ai pu venir?
Jamais, jamais, vous ne saurez jamais
Si ce n'était qu'un jeu ou si je vous aimais.
Les rendez-vous que l'on cesse d'attendre
Existent-ils dans quelque autre univers?
Où vont aussi les mots qu'on a pas pris le temps d'entendre
Et l'amour inconnu que nul n'a découvert?
[paroles: Gilles Vigneault, musique: Claude Léveillée - on an album in the early 60's]

This one is not so good. The original studio version (audio) is much better but there is no way to link to it directly - you have to scroll down and click on it. And a couple of rounds of Frédéric while we are at it: here & here.

The first one was: They say, "sing while you slave," but I just get bored. Then there was this one: Who am I? Who are you? ... said Moses to the Lord.

I think the next one will start soon: I'm junk but I'm still holding up this little wild bouquet. And with a subtitle: "Je me fous du monde entier."


1. CEO of the Year: Cool under pressure, FPM, October 2008.

CEO of the Year: Cool under pressure, FPM, October 2008.

TransCanada Corp.’s headquarters in downtown Calgary is striking for its high ceilings and blond, blue and white hues. It’s a coolness that seems to rub off on CEO Hal Kvisle, Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year for 2008. Since taking the top job in 2001, Kvisle has led the transformation of a poky, regulated western Canadian gas pipeline company into an agile, continental gas (and soon to be oil) pipeline operator and power producer. The volume of deals and announcements has been especially high the past two years, but at no time have things been any more hectic than the Monday of our interview in mid-September. Over the weekend, Lehman Brothers announced it was filing for bankruptcy and Bank of America bought the ailing Merrill Lynch. At the same time, Hurricane Ike pounded Houston and the Gulf Coast refinery region. As it turns out, TransCanada had big stakes in both Texas and Wall Street. A few days later, the company would announce US$250 million worth of exposed contracts with Lehman Bros. This morning, however, we begin by talking with Kvisle about TransCanada’s other “exposure” — to hurricanes like Ike in the Gulf.

FINANCIAL POST MAGAZINE: Last year, you bought U.S. pipeline company ANR for US$3.4 billion. That gave TransCanada 17,000 kilometres of new gas pipeline in the U.S., primarily in the Midwest and Gulf Coast. It also means you now have a direct interest in what happens there any time a hurricane hits or tornadoes strike. What are you going through today?

Hal Kvisle: Now that we’ve been involved in ANR, tornadoes and hurricanes are of much more material interest than they were before. The western segment of the ANR line gets hit by a lot of tornadoes. They never hurt the pipeline, but we now have employees who have their houses destroyed by tornadoes going through. They’re in Tornado Alley up through Kansas and places like that. The other line is in Hurricane Alley coming in through the Gulf. Twice now in two years we’ve been hit by big hurricane activity. This one, Ike, has really caused quite a bit of disruption and damage. Many of our people in Houston are unable to use a telephone. It’s been a big job on our part just to check on everyone and make sure all of our people are okay.

FPM: How many people do you have there?

Kvisle: We have roughly 400 people in Houston and we have roughly an equal number of people in locations like Nashville, Greensboro, different places all up and down the system.

FPM: Is expansion into the U.S. the biggest change in TransCanada during your tenure as CEO?

Kvisle: Yes and no. TransCanada was initially an east-west company connecting Alberta to the Ontario and Quebec gas markets. If you roll back the clock to the year 2000, we had some small assets in the United States, but virtually all of our net income and our business activity was related to the transmission of Canadian gas. Today, while our U.S. pipeline business is not as big as our Canadian business, it will be soon. The completion of the Keystone oil pipeline system — our first oil pipeline — will really add to our presence. The game plan is for the U.S. pipes to become as significant to TransCanada as the Canadian pipes.

But we’ve also grown in the power business, in both Canada and the U.S. Officially, we just break our company into two — the pipeline division and the power division. And the pipeline division is still bigger than the power division. But if you break the pipeline division into Canada and the U.S., power is bigger than either of them. So that’s been quite a remarkable development. Since the year 2000, we’ve grown a power business that is bigger than TransCanada was at the time of the 1998 merger with Nova Energy.”

FPM: You’re capping a year of home runs. You won the bidding for the Alaska gas pipeline, announced the Keystone project expansion and bought the Ravenswood power plant in New York. Is this the company you envisioned when you took over in 2001?

Kvisle: I don’t know that I would have foreseen exactly this. But what I did foresee was that we could no longer be a one-trick pony with all of our eggs in the Canadian National Energy Board-regulated, Mainline-plus-Alberta basket. We had to diversify beyond that. We said we’d need to grow in areas where we have some kind of competitive advantage. So those two areas were pipeline throughout North America and big investments in power generation. Power generation was an ideal capital-intensive business to invest in — same capital structure as pipelines, no real limitations on growth. We move about 20% of all the gas in North America and you can’t get a lot bigger than that, but we’re today 1% of the North American power-gen market, so there’s lots of room for growth. Beyond that, working on things like Alaska and the Mackenzie Valley pipeline was just part of the longer-term plan.

FPM: You worked for Dome Petroleum in the 1980s, which was big in the Arctic. Now you’ve got a green light on the Alaska line, and we even hear talk of progress on Mackenzie. Has the North’s time finally come? Are we finally going to see these pipelines built?

Kvisle: It is time for the North. The market needs the gas. It’s time for us to develop the Mackenzie Delta and offshore regions. It very clearly puts a Canadian stamp on all that. It’s time from a reservoir perspective, for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to go on gas sales.

That said, I don’t know whether we’re going to see those pipelines built or not. I’d say it’s highly certain that the Alaska project will go ahead. And if everything turns out in the correct logical way, there will be a pipeline through the Yukon and B.C. to Alberta. And it will connect that gas through to North American markets. The only issue that I raise about that is that there are challenges in Canada to getting that pipeline permitted and built in an expeditious manner. I think Canada has to pay a lot of attention to this, because if we don’t stand behind our commitment to get the Canadian section of that pipe built on time and on budget, there is the risk that Alaskan gas could go to the LNG market.

FPM: LNG — liquid natural gas — is shipped by tanker, correct?

Kvisle: That’s right. Now, we don’t think the LNG market through Valdez, Alaska, is economically the right answer, but it might be the answer if Americans start to perceive that there’s too much risk building through Canada. And why would they perceive that? I think it would revolve around the Mackenzie. The Mackenzie has been an incredibly difficult project to move forward. We have real challenges on the regulatory front in Canada. Things just get bogged down. And no question we’re bogged down in the Mackenzie. We’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar impact on the cost of the Mackenzie project. It’s the complexity of the regulatory process — and the fact that it’s still not over — that has added something like $3 billion to the cost of the Mackenzie project.

FPM: Besides Alaska, what have been the biggest recent highlights in your mind?

Kvisle: Home run No. 1 from my perspective was the successful integration of ANR. It’s all well and good to go around doing these $4-billion deals, but it takes an enormous effort inside the company to make it part of TransCanada. The fact that we’re generating excellent profitability and getting good financial results from what was a pretty big investment, that makes us happy. The second big win for the year was the regulatory rate approval that we got through on the TransCanada GTN system to California and the renegotiation of certain terms there. That was a real positive outcome that we’d been working on for two years since we acquired GTN. The third big home run is Keystone. And there are two parts to it. We are under construction on the main Keystone project. So for me that’s really significant. And then on the Keystone expansion, which is the short cut across and the extension to the Gulf Coast, we’ve announced significant, binding, long-term contracts. My fourth one would be Ravenswood, the New York power deal. Financial results will tell the story of Ravenswood and it’s too early to say. We remain very optimistic. That is a very significant asset in a very significant market. There’s also the Bruce nuclear plant in Ontario. We’re now two-thirds of the way done the biggest nuclear construction project in North America.

FPM: A lot of what we’re talking about in terms of the deals and the transformation of the company led to your selection as Outstanding CEO of the Year. Can you tell us a bit more about your role in the process, your footprint on these things?

Kvisle: The merger between TransCanada and Nova occurred in July 1998, about a year before I joined. And when I started talking to TransCanada about coming to work here — not as the CEO but to run the trading and business development department — I was attracted to it in part because I’d been through one of these big mergers before. I was there for the Dome-Hudson Bay merger in 1982. And one of the things I learned then is if you bring two organizations of people together and you keep all the right people and you keep the right projects and you get the right focus, things can work out really well.

People always talk about the cost synergies. Or they talk about the heft of the company in the financial markets or the business community or whatever. But to me, the single biggest upside of a merger is the coming together of two teams of people that actually might see the world a bit differently, might have better ideas. If you can get them properly organized you’re going to have a winner.

FPM: How did things play out after you arrived?

Kvisle: We discovered after I joined and Doug Baldwin had stepped in as stopgap CEO that much of what I’d been hired to run had to be sold. TransCanada had quite a bit more debt than anyone expected coming out of that merger, and less revenue, and we had to do something about that. I essentially spent my first 18 months at TransCanada selling off businesses that I’d been hired to run.

I took the CEO job in May 2001. The No. 1 job at that point was to establish what strategies we were going to pursue and get the organization focused behind those. A real key to our success has been our executive leadership team and some of the changes that have occurred on that team over time. This includes people like Alex Pourbaix, whom I elevated to the senior team and gave a mandate to grow a very significant power business. Similarly, we identified the big northern projects as a priority. And so I elevated Dennis McConaghy as the guy to carry those forward. Russ Girling was the CFO and it was seen to be very important that we maintain our standing in the financial community and our credit rating, so Russ agreed to carry on in that job. But we started thinking about who might be the successor to Russ, as he really wanted to run a business unit. A couple of years ago that occurred, when Greg Lohnes came back after five years at Great Lakes and became the CFO.

What I’m trying to convey is that there was a whole lot of important organizational work that was required over that period: What are the strategies of the company going to be? How much money do we have for investment in big opportunities? How are we going to cultivate the best opportunities? To me it was a question of getting the right people into the executive leadership team and then working with them to make sure that they each had the strongest possible department.

FPM: Is there a point through there where it all started to click?

Kvisle: I’d say all of that started to come together in ’03. It took us a couple of years of really focusing on the operation of the existing assets to try to increase cash flow. Our investments in energy got us through that early period, when there weren’t many opportunities on the pipe side. And then starting in about 2006, a whole bunch of stuff started to come together in pipelines. We did the GTN acquisition. We acquired effectively 100% of Great Lakes, we acquired ANR, we took over operatorship of Northern Border, we kicked off the Keystone project — all of this happened in the last two years.

FPM: What does that mean in quantitative terms?

Kvisle: We generated a billion dollars a year in cash flow in year 1999-2000. Today, we generate almost $3 billion a year in cash flow. So the cash coming out of our existing assets has gone up two and a half times. Our capital program was about $400 million then. We’ll invest just under $6 billion this year. And lately, our finance team has had an extraordinary run. We’ve issued over $3 billion of equity, of TransCanada common stock, in an 18-month period. And we’ve issued twice that much debt.

FPM: Do you see the market meltdown affecting TransCanada and other companies like it?

Kvisle: I do. In times of uncertainty, everybody pulls their horns in a little bit. And it’s so uncertain what is going to happen in the world next. Five months ago, if you’d have asked anybody what could possibly happen to Lehman Brothers, bankruptcy would not have been on the radar screen. Yet today, here we are. To see Merrill Lynch taken over by Bank of America, it’s an astounding thing.

FPM: Let’s talk more about the Keystone pipeline. It’s slated to carry oilsands oil into the U.S. starting in late 2009 and to refineries in the Gulf by 2012. The price tag: US$12.2 billion. How did it come together? Why is it important?

Kvisle: Clearly, there’s a big supply of oil being developed in Alberta. That supply needs an outlet. So we looked around and said, “Where is the market in North America that would most likely want this crude oil?” A lot of people put pressure on us to look at the Pacific market. But I’ve just never been a fan of pipelines to the Pacific coast. Why go there and compete head on with all the middle-east crude when we could deliver the crude into the middle of North America — a close-at-hand market in which we have more advantages than disadvantages in serving? So we landed first on the Wood River-Petoka market, near St. Louis. Secondly, the Cushing, Okla., market. Thirdly, it was always our plan to ultimately extend to the Gulf Coast and hook into the biggest refining market in the world.

FPM: As a gas pipeline builder, you’ve had lots of experience with protestors and opposition to your plans. But while these hurdles are mostly local with gas, opposition to oilsands oil — aka “dirty oil” — is global. Does that concern you?

Kvisle: It just makes things more complicated. It’s not unlike getting involved in Bruce Nuclear. All of a sudden now we have to deal with the issues related to nuclear power plants. There are foes out there to nuclear power. Generally, there are foes out there related to anything an engineer might ever do. And so you have a certain number of well-organized parties that are very opposed to the development of Fort McMurray. I don’t agree with any of their criticism. I’ve spent a fair bit of time up there. I know quite a bit about it. I know that Fort McMurray is not devastating the boreal forest of all of northeast Alberta, and yet that’s what they say. I know that Fort McMurray uses less than 1% of the water that flows in the Athabasca River, but you know the Kennedys would have you believe that it’s something much more than that. And the latest one is this issue of “dirty oil,” that somehow oilsands production is dirtier than any other production, when the truth is that between 85% and 92% of the CO2 emitted from any barrel of oil is emitted by the end user. And the other 8% to 15% is emitted during production, transportation and refining. So, is a barrel that has a little more emission in the production phase really a dirty barrel compared to any other, when between 85% and 92% of the CO2 is emitted by the person who uses the barrel at the end of the process?

Our position is that we move what the market wants us to move. If the market wants us to move that crude, we are to move it and we are going to do it without having an impact on the environment.

FPM: One can’t help but think of the global attacks Canadian forestry companies faced. And how that hurt the whole sector.

Kvisle: We appreciate the global elements of this. Nowhere is that a bigger issue than on the CO2 front. In the world, generally, people want to dramatically reduce the amount of CO2 we emit and I don’t have an issue with that. But if mankind wants to dramatically reduce the amount of CO2 it emits, we need a 30- or 40-year program of shutting down plants that emit a lot of CO2 at the right point in their lifecycle and replacing them with something new, and we need to do it in the normal course of capital replacement. On the other hand, having us proceed in a direction where many of these high-quality, long-life plants are going be required to shut down prematurely is an enormous mistake.

I think we are in a very difficult situation in Canada, where a whole variety of governments have led the electorate to believe that we can solve the CO2 problem relatively easily and that the burden of doing so will be borne by somebody else. In fact, we have a situation where everyone is going to pay enormously if we don’t proceed in a much more careful manner and respect the lifecycle of these big assets that we have. There’s no way of meeting Kyoto targets, Canada should know that by now. It’s a very serious public policy failure in Canada, firstly, not to recognize the reality of what you can and have to do, and secondly, to head off in a direction that’s different than the United States, not recognizing that we’re 90% integrated with the U.S. in terms of our economy. This is a very difficult thing. It’s the toughest issue I deal with in my job.

FPM: Tell us about your personal environmental ethic.

Kvisle: I grew up in west central Alberta. My father was a biologist and a school teacher and he was really involved in conservation. He would research things like how do you provide better habitat for the moose and elk in the Alberta foothills. So I had a lot of exposure to that and I’ve always been determined that anything I’m involved in is not going to be built in a way that harms the environment.

I’ve spent decades working in oil and gas development in the foothills region of western Alberta, and I think it’s a real credit to the companies that work in that part of Alberta that the landscape isn’t destroyed by oil and gas activity. There’s no other industry where you can make a $3-million investment and all you see is a wellhead sticking out of the ground. You know, we invest $30 billion or $40 billion a year in the oil and gas sector, and with the exception of Fort McMurray, the surface disturbance is really minimal.

FPM: We hear you’re applying those principles at your ranch, too?

Kvisle: A big part of what we’re doing on the ranch is preserving the nature of the area. I share the view that we need to maintain these different ranching areas in Alberta in a very pristine condition. We can’t overgraze them. We can’t let the cattle ruin the creeks. All of that stuff has to be done in a long-term, sustainable way. There were no buildings on this particular property. So we went out there and said we’re not going to develop this in a big grandiose fashion. We’re going to have minimal impact. All the electricity is supplied through solar panel systems. It’s entirely off the grid. All the heat is wood heat. We just find all the trees that are going to fall down and rot and turn into CO2 anyway and burn them.

FPM: When did you build there?

Kvisle: I’ve had a farming property up by Innisfail for about 15 years. We picked up this cattle-grazing operation five years ago.

FPM: It sounds like a nice place for retirement. You’re now 56. You’ve been CEO of TransCanada for eight years. Have you given any thought to how much longer you’ll want to stay in the job?

Kvisle: I think it’s important that you don’t stay longer than you’re really significantly contributing to the leadership of the company. In my case, I look at it in terms of a half-dozen different projects that we’ve got on the go here. I see things like reaching commercial agreements on Alaska — that’s a job that I take very seriously and I think I can contribute to. Second, we have acquired this Ravenswood asset that is essential to electricity supply in New York City — so making sure that we get through the full integration of Ravenswood, that we run it really well. I want to see oil flowing through the Keystone pipeline. We did all the work to get that going. I don’t leave part way through something like that, that’s got a few years to run. Similarly, Bruce Nuclear. I am convinced that we’re going to have a tremendous success story when we get A1 and A2 refurbished and we start them up and get them running. Those are the kinds of things I think about before retiring.


Friday, 20 January 2012

"Hold up! Buried Treasure!"

(a garbage collector overheard in the alley).
Should have been called: Roots in the Energy Drain.
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

Alberto Benett.BBB
Attention: This program will violently insult your intelligence.

What intelligence?

You have to know that BBB is 'Big Brother Brazil', a bourgeois-porn TV reality show in which lovely young people live in a 'mansion' together; flirt, feel & fuck (sometimes, just off-camera); and then get voted out of the plastic Eden one-by-one. (Ho hum.)

[Original from Alberto Benett Charges – Ideias – Esboços – Rabiscos. This site merits a word or two of praise - he not only publishes cartoons as they have appeared in various newspapers, but sketches too - if you look carefully you can see something of his process.]

A guy I know, good person, university graduate ... so (partly) in jest I offered him $100 to read the last blog post and make a comment. He replied (by email), "I haven't read all of this because it is just messy for me the blog post, and I can't really focus on the blog post. The other problem is that some of the words you are using is above my heads. Do you want me to post my comments here or on your blog?" A rich vein to mine for meaning ... some (other) when.

[Oh right. I'm supposed to respond to that? Because I like and even admire this fellow? Sorry but I really am an asshole I guess.]

Oh, you must turn it into something beautiful, but conventionally beautiful, demonstrable; it cannot be love, it must be only proofs.

Someone somewhere, an editor, a marketeer, has got this all figgured out: knows about literacy levels in k-k-Canada; knows close to precisely how many copies of a certain book will sell; can quote from memory how many copies of Ethical Oil have sold so far and what the curve looks like - how many will be remaindered, how many of Requiem for a Species, and of this latest one I have been 'hypeing' - Our Dying Planet.

Things that go 'bump' in the night:

Wikipedia SOPA protest.Wikipedia SOPA protest.Google US SOPA whimper.Google Canada nothing!Demonoid SOPA protest.I guess I just do not see the leverage? The money comes from ads right? And Internet access fees. And the idea that this kind of protest is going to change anything much doesn't quite compute.

No matter how you cut it, sliced diced or julienned, thievery is thievery and hypocrisy is an energy drain. (You did note that the last image there is from Demonoid right?)

Google - reported?Images like this are floating around. I didn't see anything like it.

SOPA is 'Stop Online Piracy Act' and PIPA is 'Protect IP Act'; some details here.

#2 - Keystone XL (?)

Aislin."A Good Call" says the NYT below, and for a moment I wonder if they have now got Billy-We-Won McKibben writing their editorials - but it covers most of the ground, so just the headline is bogus. Enough angles and spin-vectors to bring on vertigo - almost exclusively irrelevant. The pundits go on and on and on - better to go to the source, here is the 'Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline' below (not that he says anything except to repeat the phrase "the health and safety of the American people" twice in what? 250 words?).

More and more often I see an image of our Barack that reminds me of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray - in fact, they all do; here, watch this wee video of Joe Oliver from the Guardian (original here). Why does he have to look at his notes so closely to get out a 25 second sound byte?

"Thousands upon thousands of jobs ..." he says, but it seems to me he is primarily concerned with his own (in several senses).

#3 - A disconnect in the dead zone.

Baltic Sea map with scale.Baltic Sea algae blooms, 2010.Baltic Sea algae blooms, 2010.Harnessing the energy of the dead zones! It conjures up visions in green and yellow of designer GMO algae - one species per polymer in a giant machine with some kind of rotary dial on the front of it. Lookin' good, from Gene scientist to create algae biofuel with Exxon Mobil:
"Algae consumes carbon dioxide and sunlight in the presence of water, to make a kind of oil that has similar molecular structures to petroleum products we produce today," said Jacobs. [Emil Jacobs is the Exxon/Mobil connection; and Craig Venter is the eminent scientist.]
But the picture has a moustache; from Cargo boat and US navy ship powered by algal oil in marine fuel trials comes:
The exact nature of the algae, one of 30,000 single-cell organisms known to exist in the wild, is a secret closely guarded by Solazyme, the company that manufactures the fuel in giant fermentation tanks in Pennsylvania. The fast-growing algae are fed crop or forest waste and convert their sugars to oil.
So ... how does the sunlight get into those giant fermentation tanks then exactly?

#4 - Toronto Budget Victory (!)

Great White North.We taught that slob Rob Ford a lesson huh? (Sez the leftards.) Paddy-whacked his pee-pee! And spent the surplus, and failed toe-telly to stop the gravy train - it was imaginary gravy anyway wuzzun'it? Do farts have lumps?

Next step is 'revitalizing the left', starting with the unions according to Rick Salutin (original here).

And anyways, Rob & Doug are on a diet eh? What's that about? Are they the kind of vegetarians who only eat old women?

#5 - More than just a pretty face?

Renewable subsidies of $66 billion in 2010 compared with $409 billion for fossil fuels - six times more for fossil fuels.Fatih Birol.Three links around Fatih Birol from the Guardian: 1) Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies 'could provide half of global carbon target',    2) Fossil fuel subsidies: a tour of the data, and,    3) OECD Inventory of estimated budgetary support and tax expenditures for fossil fuels (.pdf including all the dirt on k-k-Canada).

A-and a plug for their environmental coverage (timely, well-researched, a-and often, usually, with links to the relevant documents); best thing to do would be stop looking in The Globe & Mail at all, abandon it, and make a shortcut on your desktop to the Guardian Environment Section.

[Previously here on our Fatih in November & December 2011.]

Oroborus."We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it."

(From Macbeth, though you may want to remember who is speaking and about what - or not.)

Placard front: Hungry for LEADERSHIP ¡Ya basta!Peter Sale is apparently not amused. I sent him a link to my 'review' and it has been almost a week and no acknowledgement. Too crazy I guess. Oh well.

I offered to help Occupy Toronto maintain a vigil at Peter Kent's office every day for an hour or two during rush hour - they weren't interested. I heard of someone planning a hunger strike in Ottawa and offered to go along - and got no answer. So ...

There were a few euphoric moments when I realized that Joe Oliver's riding office is in Toronto too - and slightly more accessible by TTC than Kent's - but the TCC people did not answer my request to borrow the 'Hungry for Climate Leadership' banner.
(Oh well.)

Meanwhile, a hunger strike does seem to be the next thing on the list. The place, I think, is on the steps of wherever it is the National Energy Board's tribunal - or JRP? Joint Review Panel? Is that it? Anyway there are three of 'em on it - is holding the hearings on the Northern Gateway pipeline. It's a travelling show so following them around would mean ferries & flights & motels & B&Bs to book. It would be good to see Bella Bella again.

Placard back: The Northern Gateway pipeline should not even be a gleam in someone's eye.It is not clear to me that anything will come of it. I doubt I can do it by myself - obviously I CAN do it - I have the will and the skills & resources, but the energy? Well ... anyone who thinks things happen in a vacuum is simply ... mistaken.

I got as far as designing a placard to carry. Not hungry for any specific kind of leadership - since there is none at all on any side as it is ... one could quote Robert Frost's Considerable Speck. For the flip side it is still a toss-up: "George Soros is not paying me to do this," is one I thought of; or "100% owned and operated by a Canadian with no affiliation to any radical foreign celebrities." (Or domestic for that matter.)

No one speaks to me, and no matter what you say it does take two to tango. The sweet girls in Brasil send pictures of themselves on the beachTo thine own self be ... enough. :-) with their kids (Beleza!) and that's about it. (And that's enough too :-)

Oh I know I know I know I know I know - letting it out of the bag like this probably does it in as effectively as any energy drain; but it is all 'faint hope' around here now y'unnerstan'. The odds are so long that it really doesn't make much sense indulging in niceties.
I read Ondaatje's latest The Cat's Table - ho hum - the high point is when he quotes Beckett's "Despair young and never look back," as if he knows what it means; poser, milking the literary cash-cow for his retirement. Should novels have footnotes? (Maybe there was one and I didn't notice.)

"On any sheet the least display of mind."

(Uh oh! ... )
Portal Rio+20 Construindo a Cúpula dos Povos Rio+20Portal Rio+20 Construindo a Cúpula dos Povos Rio+20
Portal Rio+20 Construindo a Cúpula dos Povos
Rio+20 Gateway - Building the People's Summit

I get a monthly newsletter from the CPT - Comissão Pastoral da Terra. It came a few days ago and one of the items was this: Rio de Janeiro: Encontro dos Povos sobre a Rio+20 / Meeting of the people about Rio+20. And it's not far from there to Rio+20 Gateway - Building the People's Summit.

Ai ai AI!

Damned airplanes! I wonder if I could get there by land somehow? Or by sea?

Could I possibly be of any use or ornament if I did manage to get there?
(What'm I gonna do now?!)
Be well.


I often hear the garbage men in the back lane at 5:00 AM as they load the bins from the Tim's just up the street. When he shouted "Hold up! Buried Treasure!" I went to the window to see what it was he had found - but they were out of view.

I saw the crow scavengers at work in Ocean Falls. Someone scrawled "Scouse Bootle!" in big red letters across the wall of the ruined sawmill. The only serious fire we had to put out while I was there was in the paper mill where two of the lads had been taking pieces of stainless pipe out of the pulp with a cutting torch one Sunday morning (which is what caught me in the clip below).

Now two women, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, have made a film on the take-down of Detroit. This short clip Dismantling Detroit has two distinct sets of voices in it (from this NYT article, the clip is also here on Vimeo). 'Exceptionalism' is a new one to me - I get stuck between the authentic dialog and the stale vege-pap rationale it is wrapped up in.

The two film-makers have voices too (which make it all clearer in a way, to me at least).

A friend sent me along a link to Greedy Lying Bastards in the Guardian. This is all good - education going on at the meme level. But how long does it take for the memes to take root and bear fruit? Just a question y'unnerstan' but ... Don't we already know they are greedy lying bastards? Haven't we known that for ... a decade and more?

Time is short friends.
As this edition goes to press the world has still not ended.As this edition goes to press the world has still not ended.
As this edition goes to press the world has still not ended, but they are working on it with all their energies.
Alberto Benett - Chevron.Alberto Benett - Chevron.


1. A Good Call on the Pipeline, NYT Editorial, January 18 2012.

2. Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline, Barack Obama, January 18 2012.

A Good Call on the Pipeline, NYT Editorial, January 18 2012.

President Obama has properly rejected, at least for now, the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. He rebuffed the demand of House Republicans that the controversial project be decided in haste under an election-year deadline.

The foolish requirement that Mr. Obama issue a decision on the pipeline by Feb. 21 — cynically inserted into the payroll tax bill passed in December — could never be met given the need for a thorough environmental study before any judgment is made.

The president made the right call in accepting the recommendation of the State Department, which has primary jurisdiction over the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would cross through ecologically sensitive areas in the Midwest. Mr. Obama said his judgment was based not on the merits but on a timetable that was “rushed and arbitrary.” He has maintained that a decision on the current proposal could not be made until some time next year. The pipeline sponsor, TransCanada, could submit a proposal to build along another route, but that, too, would require time for a comprehensive environmental review.

Republicans intent on scoring campaign points immediately repeated their fallacious cries that “tens of thousands of jobs” would be lost by not instantly approving the project. They made no mention of the risks inherent in the project: harm to the Canadian boreal forests and threats to water supplies in the Midwest. Bipartisan opposition to the pipeline has notably been led by Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican.

The extraction and production of tar sands oil in the fields of northern Alberta would also cause far more greenhouse gas emissions than drilling for conventional crude. Lobbyists and House Republicans have tried to sell the project as a reduction in America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil. But much of the pipeline oil that would be refined on the Gulf Coast would be destined for foreign export.

Far more important to the nation’s energy and environmental future is the development of renewable and alternative energy sources. This is the winning case that Mr. Obama should make to voters in rejecting the Republicans’ craven indulgence of Big Oil.

Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline, Barack Obama, January 18 2012.

Earlier today, I received the Secretary of State’s recommendation on the pending application for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the Secretary of State has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people. I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my Administration’s commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil. Under my Administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down. In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security –including the potential development of an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico – even as we set higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and invest in alternatives like biofuels and natural gas. And we will do so in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.