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Monday 25 April 2022


 Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL44: Holyrood Air Pollutants Surprisingly Low

Need for Pollution Abatement Equipment Was Another Muskrat Fraud

 As Uncle Gnarley properly pointed out in his post last week, the vilification of the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station was a central tactic of Nalcor and Government’s communications strategy for proceeding with the Muskrat Falls project.  Tremendous tales of woe were repeated ad nauseum about the risks of using the Holyrood plant by the shameless promoters of Muskrat. 

They were all untrue.

This post sums them all up with particular emphasis on the topic of pollutant emissions, a problem that had ceased to exist.  Not that Government or Nalcor could ever let something as simple as the facts stand in their way of building Muskrat.

Thursday 21 April 2022


“The Provincial Government, through NLH (Hydro), has investigated the long-term options to address Holyrood emissions and decided to replace Holyrood generation with electricity from the Lower Churchill through a transmission link to the Island”.

Thus ran the 2007 energy plan of the Danny Williams Administration.

The die was cast for energy policy in NL. It meant Gull Island, Muskrat Falls or bust!

In that pursuit for more than a decade, deception, half-truths, outright lies and delusion all played a role in the sanction and construction of Muskrat Falls. Integral to the decision, was the disparagement of the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station (HTGS).

Monday 18 April 2022


 Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL43: Assessing the Holyrood Life Extension Report

Dispelling Lies and Half Truths

On March 31, NL Hydro provided the Public Utilities Board with a consultant report assessing the Holyrood plant with a focus on continuing to use it for potentially decades more as a backup facility in the event of a major loss of power to the Island grid.  The report considers just one of several options being considered in a major Reliability Assessment hearing before the PUB started in 2018 and seems as though it may never conclude.

The new report provides a favorable review of the suitability of the plant, maintained as a backup facility.  To what should be no one’s surprise, the plant is not in an awful and unreliable condition and way past its prime.  It just needs what should be considered ordinary upkeep for any industrial facility.

What we don’t know, however, is what exactly Hydro asked the consultant to study or if the report accurately describes the way the Holyrood plant must be used to provide an acceptable level of utility reliability.  It appears Hydro has guided their consultant to the wrong scenario. 

Monday 11 April 2022


Finance Minister Siobhan Coady delivered the 2022-23 Provincial Budget last week, enshrouded in the kind of rhetoric that suggests the Government is prudently managing our finances.

Let’s take a look at the 2022-23 Budget Estimates to see if what she is selling is in line with the reality that the PERT Report described only one year ago.

PERT stated: “The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is facing an unsustainable fiscal situation that requires immediate action. Spending is out of control and the Provincial Government is paying out far more than its revenue allows…This untenable situation must be addressed.” The Report also noted that “Cash deficits in the last five years have averaged $1.9 billion annually.” (P.10)

If, as Minister Coady suggests, she is close to Budget balance, how did Moya Greene get her stark analysis so wrong?

Thursday 7 April 2022


NL may have dodged one offshore bullet, but well-informed sources in the Nation’s capital advise that the public were given only one part of the story.

The Federal Cabinet has agreed, over objections from Environment Minister Steven Guibeault, to allow Bay du Nord to proceed. But so far unannounced is that Ottawa has extracted from Premier Andrew Furey an agreement that in return, no other offshore oil development licenses will be issued. Ottawa does not want to be seen doing the killing alone.

This compromise was the cost of the Fed’s $2 billion loan for “rate mitigation”. A more mature, savvy, politician would have told Ottawa to stuff it. Furey has agreed to the price.

The “noise” that you are hearing from local media, over the past few days, revolves around climate friendly wind power and hydrogen.

What you are hearing is a structured campaign giving the impression that your future is connected with these energy sources rather than oil – though the globe needs oil and we have some of the lowest carbon emitting stuff. It is a more important industry than many people, including our own, fully understand.

Monday 4 April 2022

WAITING, WAITING – for Bay du Nord Sanity to Break Out

Guest Post by Cabot Martin

Welcome, perhaps, to the age of Climate Change Sanity? 

My words, I fear, will not match danger of the hour or the honour of filling the highly regarded Uncle Gnarley Monday morning slot. Only last night, I was on the phone with the man himself, dodging and weaseling, trying to get out of it. 

But Uncle Gnarley, with his big white beard and all, is not to be trifled with and he soon laid down the law – 

“How can I run a Blog if you are going to get on like that, changing your mind at the last minute?” he asked sternly, after raining down fire and brimstone, or at least the threat of such. 

So I, whimpering , slung off in my chastised state to ponder with nothing more than a few fragments of an idea to work on. 

Of course, my present confused condition is totally Bay de Nord induced. 

Thursday 31 March 2022


Guest Post by PlanetNL 

PlanetNL42: Electrification at MUN + Broken LIL

A Formula For Political and Academic Stupidity

Government announcements issued on Friday afternoons are almost certainly bad news disguised as good.  Government will try to spin only the positives while the media and public must figure out the negatives.

So it was this past Friday when much enthusiasm was fawned over the planned conversion of Memorial University’s central heating plant from oil to electricity.  Provincial, Federal, and Memorial representatives lauded the emissions reduction that would result from 10.5 million liters less fuel consumption at Memorial. The $10.5M project will be funded 50/50 by Federal and Provincial programs specific to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  All that sounds great - there couldn’t possibly be any downside, could there?

Well, what if reducing 10.5 million liters of diesel consumption at Memorial requires the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station to burn 30 million more liters of heavy fuel oil, resulting in far worse provincial emissions and increased cost to ratepayers?  That’s the kind of info that does not get mentioned at these cheerleading events. 

Monday 28 March 2022


No matter which side of the issue you find yourself, one thing is clear: there has never been an occasion when the Government of Canada has told a Province to shut down a critical part of its economy, as the Prime Minister Trudeau is attempting, in the case of the offshore oil industry.

An arbitrary 40-day extentsion to the Bay du Nord decsion and a 90-day freeze on new land sales, the the Prime Minister has put a gun to Premier Andrew Furey's head. Furey has neither chastised the PM for his insult, admonished the GoC’s discard of the Atlantic Accord, or asserted our interests. The whole spectacle constitutes a new low point in Canadian and NL politics.

The public needs to be aware of how they are being undercut.

Wednesday 23 March 2022


There are only 21 days left. The Prime Minister will decide the future of the NL oil industry, our economic future.

The noise gets louder. 

Is it Andrew? Has he returned from Ottawa? The decision on Bay du Nord?

No, its NOIA changing its name.

They have found another ass to kiss.

But Bay du Nord?

Furey says: Prime Minister, thy will be done.

People think its (just) Bay du Nord, when at stake is the whole offshore oil industry; Bay du Nord just the beginning.

Monday 14 March 2022

Will Critical Minerals be a critical component of the future NL economy?

 Guest Post by Dr. Derek Wilton, PGeo.

Dr. Derek Wilton, PGeo. is an Honorary Research Professor, Earth Science, Memorial University, and Part-time Faculty Researcher College of the North Atlantic.

These are certainly fraught times. As bluesman Jimmy Rogers sang at the start of the last Cold War,  “World’s in a tangle”. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Covid-19 pandemic caused disastrous effects to human health and the global economy. 

Aside from the ravages of the illness itself, Covid exposed glaring weaknesses in global supply chains, not only in finished goods, but also in primary mineral commodities. Before Covid-19, and progressing unrelentingly through the pandemic, human-induced climate change has been causing serious, cascading, calamities. And locally of course, as this Blog has been delineating all too well, the provincial economy is in a mess with little but dark clouds on the horizon.

Thursday 10 March 2022

HOW TO SOLVE CANADA'S CO2 EMISSIONS PROBLEM (without cancelling Bay du Nord)

 Guest Post by Cabot Martin


The worldwide situation with respect to Climate Change is like a boat that is in danger of sinking because it has sprung a number of leaks – some big and some small. 

Faced with such a situation, the experienced Captain would order all hands to plug the biggest leaks first. 

On the energy generation side, the biggest hole in the boat by far is represented by the use of coal to generate electricity, particularly in China and India. In the latter two countries, the overwhelming role of coal for the generation of electricity even largely negates the benefits to be gained from use of electric cars as a solution! 

The use of coal must stop and fast, and the use of natural gas especially when converted to and transported as LNG is the only fast, much lower carbon, reasonably priced, way of doing that. 

Monday 7 March 2022


 Last week’s post by Ron Penney, a member of the negotiating team that hammered out the terms of the “Atlantic Accord” for the joint Federal/Provincial management of NL’s offshore oil and gas, ought to remind us of its importance and hard-fought origins.

It should raise concern, too, that a process that began under Premier Paul Davis, with an amendment to the Atlantic Accord Implementation Act (the slippery slope) in 2015, was compounded in 2019 when the Feds made changes to their environmental legislation, which the Ball Government refused to oppose, which effectively gave the GoC control over offshore environmental assessments. This was not the intent of the Accord.  When the Feds stop approving Development Plan Applications, what is the function of the C-NLOPB?

Monday 28 February 2022


Guest Post by Ron Penney

I’ve been following with increasing dismay what has been happening over the past number of years as the Federal Government has, through the guise of environmental protection, eroded the authority of the Offshore Petroleum Board created under the Atlantic Accord to jointly manage the oil and gas industry in the province. 

I was a member of the negotiating team which led to the Atlantic Accord, chaired by the late Cyril Abery, then Deputy Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs, reporting to Bill Marshall, the Minister responsible for the offshore negotiations, who in turn reported to the Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet, chaired by Premier Brian Peckford. 

These were a very difficult set of negotiations, particularly with the Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and initially led by the Minister of Natural Resources, Mark Lalonde, who was succeeded by Jean Chretien. Those negotiations were unsuccessful because they refused to meet our two demands: that we would should be given the same right to collect royalties as if the resource was on land, and that it be managed by an independent board composed of equal representation from both governments. 

Monday 14 February 2022


The new Hydro President, Jennifer Williams, is either threading very softly with a Furey Government afraid of taking decisions or has already succumbed to Nalcor’s long established culture of deception.

Because Ms. Williams is still new, we can only hope that her comments to CBC last week are matters of misspeak rather than signs of an evolving attitude. There is good reason to be concerned.

CEO Williams suggested to CBC that it is common for new utility infrastructure to experience “growing pains”.

The comment left the impression that those “growing pains” include the major problems currently plaguing the Muskrat Falls project, which are limiting production to around a third of capacity. After spending nearly $15 billion and years behind schedule, growing pains should constitute only the minor problems identified in a punch list audit during commissioning.

Monday 24 January 2022


We should be worried that GNL will double down as big problems persist and costs continue to rise on Soldier’s Pond and the LIL, all the way to Muskrat Falls. It seems destined to be a victim of the "sunk cost" fallacy which describes a tendency to sink more money into a scheme in which a large investment of time and money has already been made, regardless of whether the costs outweigh any benefits.

Last week’s post described the chief conclusion of the second Haldar and Associates report that the Labrador Island Link transmission line (LIL) is under-designed and may need salvaging as often as every six years.

The Report was ultimately conducted for Public Utilities Board which wanted more data to help forestall a repeat of the 2014 outage known as #DarkNL.

Monday 17 January 2022


 The recent release by the PUB of the second Haldar Associates Report represents a timely and sobering analysis of the findings of its investigation into, among other things, the reliability of the Labrador Island Link (LIL).

The NL public should not need to be reminded that last week marked the seventh anniversary of #DarkNL. That was a week in which many people, especially those living on the Avalon, came face to face with the worst consequences of public sector incompetence, a matter confirmed and chronicled by the Liberty Consulting Group for the Public Utilities Board (PUB). 

It also caused the downfall of an incompetent Premier. Sadly she was replaced, successively, with a bevy of incompetent successors.

Monday 10 January 2022


The Furey Administration’s decision to cut $20 million from funding for offshore seismic surveying, a program ostensibly intended to enhance bidding for explorations rights in the offshore oil sector, is the right one. Unfortunately, the decision is a pause rather than a cancellation.

The distinction is self-evident, but at issue is that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador really hasn’t spent five minutes on the broader public policy questions of how best to pare the expenses of the Government in pursuit of the balanced budget objective described in the PERT Report.

Cancellation, rather than pause, should have been an easy decision in this case, because more objective industry players, which do not include either OILco or NOIA, will remind that majors and supermajors - Suncor, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Chevron and others - are cash rich again, and more than capable of performing their own seismic programs. Global oil prices are replenishing their coffers, enabling them to pay down debt, buy back shares, and in some cases, double the dividends to their shareholders.

This issue should be viewed in conjunction with Government’s recent referral to the banking firm of Rothschild of an unconfirmed number of assets for valuation. Together, the decisions confirm that provincial public policy remains a haphazard, ill-defined, even kneejerk process.

Wednesday 5 January 2022


 Guest Post by Ron Penney


Like those of you who are of a certain age, I was very much looking forward to getting my booster shot, particularly with the advent of the omicron variant, which has proven to be much more contagious, although so far a much more benign variant. 

The evidence is that the two doses does not provide much protection from getting  the variant but does protect against hospitalization and fatal outcomes for those who are fully vaccinated. The booster shot gives much more protection from infection and lessens the severity of symptoms even more. 

The objective has to be to not overwhelm our hospitals, as they also experience the loss of health care workers who have to self isolate because of possible exposure. So far our hospitalizations are very low, but the experience of other jurisdictions demonstrates that this is unlikely to last. 

Monday 3 January 2022


Premier Furey’s year-end declaration that the “deficit must be tamed with broad action, not big bombshells” might sound encouraging if only we could point to any plan, even a “broad” one. But Furey has no such intention. He and his little band of insiders, Cabinet passively looking on, are focused on the sale of NL’s most valuable strategic assets. At any cost he isn’t prepared to impose on the Government — and the public — spending practices that reflect the more responsible behaviours employed in other provinces.

Following release of the PERT Report of Moya Greene and her advisory committee in May 2021, Furey commented that “this is the pivotal moment in our collective history… the problem is clearly laid out before us. We are not on a sustainable path.”

The statement reflected a fiscal circumstance which Greene defined as total provincial debt obligations of $46.3 billion, an abominable figure in a place occupied by only a half million people. Otherwise, the Government’s response was silence. Moya returned to London to be heard from no more.