Sask. on board with Idaho National Laboratory’s Western Inland Energy Corridor; Wall government to “accelerate” uranium and nuclear opportunities
As news stories go it was a mere blip. On March 17 Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd and
A government news release said the MOU provides a mechanism for the government and INL to consider research and demonstration projects on a variety of energy sources and resources, including uranium, nuclear energy, heavy oil, oil shale and oil sands. The agreement also provides for potential collaboration on carbon dioxide capture and storage projects.
“Our government is committed to advancing an innovation agenda for
Established in 1949, Idaho National Laboratory has 3,800 staff in a number of complexes and testing facilities in southeastern
The news release did not include a backgrounder or copy of the agreement. The announcement generated one news article by the Saskatchewan News Network that was published in The StarPhoenix and Leader-Post the following day.
On March 27 a request was made to the Ministry of Energy and Resources under the province’s freedom of information legislation for a copy of the MOU and any backgrounders, briefing notes or memorandums relating to the agreement or announcement.
On April 30 the ministry granted the request in full, a rare, but welcome, occurrence for the usually secretive Saskatchewan Party government. The records released reveal some interesting information that was not included in the government news release or subsequent newspaper article.
While the news release did describe in general terms the purpose of the agreement it did not provide any information on its objectives. These include:
– The Parties plan to work in the long term interests of energy development.
– The Parties plan to work to further energy security between
– The Parties plan to seek to accelerate and enhance
– The Parties plan to examine further opportunities in unconventional resource development such as oil sands and oil shales.
– The Parties plan to share knowledge with respect to carbon capture and sequestration and work to advance research and technology development in carbon management.
Of particular interest are the plans to “accelerate and enhance” the province’s uranium activities. The wording is eerily reminiscent of the Saskatchewan Party’s 2007 election platform which said, “
There was absolutely no mention of building nuclear reactors or storing nuclear waste in the province but once in power that’s exactly what the Brad Wall government began to pursue. The lesson learned is that words like ‘enhance,’ ‘strengths’ and ‘opportunities’ mean something more than what you might initially think.
The MOU indicates that the agreement “shall be in force for a period of four years from the date of the third signature of ratification.” This means until March 17, 2013.
The MOU also shows that a Coordinating Committee, consisting of 2 individuals from each party, will be established to advance the objectives and purposes of the agreement. The Wall government has not disclosed the names of the committee members.
Another document, a March 12 memorandum from energy and resources deputy minister, Kent Campbell, to Ministers Boyd and Stewart, shows that 20 government officials were invited to attend the signing ceremony at Government House in Regina. The list included
An attachment to the memo prepared by Cam Pelzer, the ministry’s director of industrial policy with the resource and energy policy division, discloses for the first time that Energy and Resources officials “traveled to
On January 10 the Edmonton Journal reported on the cost of a similar trip that was taken by
The best is saved for last, though, when Pelzer notes: “INL officials encourage
And what is the Western Inland Energy Corridor? The INL describes it one document as “a promising hub for energy resources in urgent demand…stretching from northern
“This corridor contains world-class fossil energy reserves of coal, oil shale, and oilsands – that are complemented by real and potential renewable energy resources – including wind, hydropower, and bioenergy. The corridor also hosts world class uranium resources necessary for nuclear power generation.”
The INL says, “Developing these energy-rich resources will require the resolution of critical environmental and water resource issues. Intermingled with and further complicating these issues, are the ongoing infrastructure investments being made in the area, including the expansion of electric transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, and construction of new power plants.”
The organization states that it is looking to be “the region’s “go-to” powerhouse for energy security.” And it seems that
In a presentation to the 4th International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor (HTR) Technology on October 1, 2008, in Washington, D.C., Michael Hagood, the INL’s energy systems business lead, said “The United States faces an unprecedented threat to its energy security due to its dependence on foreign oil and gas, in particular transportation fuel derived from geopolitically unstable or “unfriendly” countries.
“This is a situation that diminishes our country’s strength, and given demand trends, will only worsen.
“In this context, carbon energy sources will continue to supply most of the world’s energy needs for the foreseeable future.”
Hagood said the Western Inland Energy Corridor can contribute significantly to
“The Canadian portion of corridor is of great importance to
“Innovative development, stewardship and environmental management approaches must be applied to secure these resources.”
Hagood also mentioned the two province’s “growing interest in nuclear energy integration.”
“There is growing interest in applying nuclear energy (heat) to the recovery and upgrading/conversion of critical unconventional fossil energy resources,” his said.
It’s been rumoured that this is perhaps the main reason why the Wall government is so eager to see up to two nuclear reactors built in
“The mission focused on reviewing the research priorities and expertise of the INL and understanding their efforts in the area of energy systems integration, including renewable, non-renewable and nuclear energy. Discussions centred on where
“The Inland Energy Corridor concept was explored. This is a region identified by the INL as stretching from
An ARC news release said one of the “many concepts the organizations will be evaluating is the potential application of current and future nuclear energy technology within the context of Alberta’s specific conditions and industry applications.”
“INL and ARC will collaboratively develop an advisory report covering various aspects of potential introduction of nuclear energy into
A year later, on March 29, 2009, the
According to the executive summary the report “is intended to be an unbiased compilation of the scientifically accepted information underpinning the issues associated with nuclear power. The information contained herein is based upon facts and data supplied by panel members and by the Alberta Research Council and the Idaho National Laboratory, who were commissioned by the panel to compile background information.”
The report neglects to mention that the INL is mandated to develop and promote nuclear options.
As luck would have it
The Alberta Economic Forum, billed as an investment conference, was held May 4-5 at the luxurious Grand Hotel Kempinski in
The participants included senior managers of oil companies, international and local, private and national; bankers (investment bankers, trade finance, private bankers, financial analysts, portfolio managers, credit departments) from European and Canadian banks; investment funds; governments; senior managers of the infrastructure sector (oil & gas transportation, refineries, power generation); law firms and consultants.
The keynote speaker was Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.
The event was organized by the Alberta Enterprise Group, an Edmonton-based right-wing lobby group established by
The group says it promotes balanced economic growth, efficient government services and open and accountable government practices. The organization, however, remains secretive not releasing any financial statements or a list of its members.
The average citizen had no hope in hell of enjoying the access to power that the forum offered participants. The bronze package, which included the two days of conferences and gala dinner, cost 2500 CHF ($2,600 CAD). The gold package went for 4550 CHF ($4,700 CAD) and included the conference, dinner and 3 nights at the hotel. Just to attend the conference for one day would’ve set someone back 1250 CHF ($1,300 CAD).
According to the event programme also in attendance were INL’s Michael Hagood and Enterprise Saskatchewan CEO Dale Botting. In fact,