Bill C-51 and the Stasi State of Canada

This past weekend people across Canada took to the streets to express their disagreement with Bill C-51. Why are people upset?

What is Bill C-51?

Bill C-51
Bill C-51 protest

Bill C-51 creates a new crime of ‘advocating for or promoting terrorism’. By using the terms ‘advocating’ and ‘promoting’ the federal government is expanding the definition of illegal activity to something that is way beyond the scope of the Criminal Code.

The Criminal Code is very specific about the definition of terrorist activities; violent crimes such as hostage taking, seizure of aircraft, bombings, etc.

In 2001, after the events of 9/11, the government thought about enacting a new anti-terror law which would only allow ‘lawful’ protests. Many experts told the government that this would take away the ability for citizens to gather spontaneously. As a result, that amendment was struck down.

Now, in 2015, the federal government is once again pushing for a greater crackdown on citizens’ rights to express themselves by introducing Bill C-51.

Legal experts question the vague wording of Bill C-51 such as “unduly influencing a government in Canada by…unlawful means” and “interference with critical infrastructure” as the word ‘unlawful’ includes anything not officially sanctioned by the government. Interference could also include a peaceful rally with no violence or criminal activity involved or intended.

If Bill C-51 is passed, C.S.I.S. (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) could have the capacity to do the following and more:

  • remove web postings or sites it finds threatening*
  • drain bank accounts
  • engage in disinformation campaigns
  • bypass traditional police channels in order to detain suspects

*Recently, a community advocate for the protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline at Burnaby Mountain was faced with a SLAPP (strategic litigation against public participation) lawsuit because he posted dates of gatherings on his website. Such lawsuits would not be necessary in the future, because the government could remove the website and take action against the author.

Will this turn Canada into a Stasi State?

From 1949 to 1989, the Ministry for State Security in East Germany commonly known as the Stasi, spied on its citizens. They employed over 100,000 full time staff and used a vast network of citizens who spied on people using every way possible. The Stasi opened mail, monitored bank accounts, wire-tapped phone lines and bugged private living quarters. The result was over 40 million index cards and 100 miles of documents that detailed the activities of everyday people.

With the passing of Bill C-51, the Canadian government could easily turn Canada into a country where people are under intense surveillance and no longer free to express their opinions.

Profiling and Tracking Canadians

The internet has made profiling and tracking people so much easier and cheaper.

When you use your bank card,  text with your mobile phone,  log onto a computer, drive a vehicle, or even enter a store, you are leaving behind ‘data tracks’ and ‘data exhaust’. Even energy use data from ‘smart’ meters is being collected and analyzed. All this metadata can be easily combined to determine your habits, your social networks, and even your thought patterns.

For example, if a person anonymously rated half-a-dozen movies out of the top 500, it is possible for that person to be accurately identified 84% of the time, and if the date of the rating is available, almost 100% accurate.

Private Contractors and Other Groups

Entire industries have sprouted up analyzing, gathering, sorting, and reusing personal data. As storage costs keep going down the size and scale of data collection will only increase.

Now peoples’ data is being tracked by private companies beyond the government’s oversight. Edward Snowden was working for a private contractor with access to huge volumes of private information. There are hundreds of thousands of contract workers working with confidential data these days.

Who are they selling this information to? This is where abuse of power comes in.

Like the Stasi, the government can use societies and groups to physically track and follow ordinary citizens as they go about their daily activities. Citizens who irritate the petro-client are subject to heavy surveillance.

Are certain citizen groups assigned to physically follow people in Canada? Is it possible that these groups are under the direction of the RCMP and CSIS?  Who is paying for this? Are taxpayers’ dollars being used to fund this?

Living in a client petro-state

The problem is when Canadians are living in a client state, the client decides who and what is a problem.

All the information gathered can be very useful to the client to use for repression and to maintain power. In wartime this can have a horrible result.

Imagine if the Stasi had the information gathering abilities of today.  Back then there was no GPS, or mobile phones, and they did not know were people were at all times without physcially following them. They could not predict who was going to become a dissident without infiltrating social networks. Now information can be streamed into algorithmic models and people are being patrolled based on these findings.

In the old days the government was more specific on who they monitored. Now it is everyone. The U.S. government was collecting 1.7 billion emails and phone calls a day in 2010, according to the Washington Post. Imagine five years later.

Canada is becoming less and less of an independent country—culturally, economically, and politically. It is a client state. The energy resources in Canada are a key part of this integration.

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Nanaimo’s Watershed guardians sound alarm

Nanaimo’s watershed was a hot topic at last Monday’s Nanaimo council COW meeting. There were four speakers who made presentations regarding the Nanaimo watershed. These concerned citizens want to start a process to make the Nanaimo community drinking watershed a publicly owned and controlled asset.

Two speakers raised the following questions:

  • Could the City of Nanaimo find a way to purchase Nanaimo’s watershed?
  • Could the City of Nanaimo set up a ‘Nanaimo Watershed Board’?
  • What sub-surface activities are allowed to take place in Nanaimo’s watershed?

A petition was presented to council with over 1,300 names asking for the City of Nanaimo to take action to purchase the watershed.

Here are some of the highlights from the speakers’ presentations:

The new provincial Water Sustainability Act contains a section dealing with Watershed Governance. The regulations surrounding this section are in the process of being developed.

Due to the E & N Land Grant of the 1800’s, the land contained within Nanaimo’s watershed is, in fact, stolen land…. stolen from First Nations and is now being challenged by the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The ultimate goal is to ensure sufficient, clean fresh water now and into the future. Water is the foundation of both resilient communities and a robust economy.

How to protect Nanaimo’s drinking water

Three options are available to protect Nanaimo’s watershed and have clean drinking water for a growing population.

  • Purchase the lands around Jump Lake
  • Expropriate the entire watershed
  • Work towards a local watershed governance structure

The land within Nanaimo’s watershed is currently said to be owned by Island Timberlands and TimberWest Forestry Companies.  It is only because of the goodwill of these logging companies that water is available.

There is no agreement between the City of Nanaimo nor the Regional District of Nanaimo and the timber companies, for usage of or access to Nanaimo’s watershed.

This lack of foresight is of heightened concern as logging companies morph into development companies, having the ability to sell off watershed lands.

There are only two cities in British Columbia that own their watersheds:  Victoria and Vancouver.  Neither of these cities has had to install expensive water treatment plants at a huge cost to the taxpayers. Why is this?

The forests within the watersheds of both Victoria and Vancouver do not allow any trespass, human activity, development or industrial activity within them. The watershed lands have been brought back to their natural state.  Trees and undergrowth have established root systems that act as natural filters for clean drinking water.

When land is cleared  in watersheds, excess water rushes down hillsides taking the earth with it and contaminating drinking water. This is what Nanaimo experienced in December 2014 with a boil-water advisory.

New Water Filtration Plant

The City of Nanaimo is currently spending approximately $84 million on building a new water filtration plant to improve the quality drinking water. Would this have been necessary if the watershed was not disturbed? Why spend all this money when the watershed lands could be sold to whomever?

The City of Nanaimo plans to add a $100 million new water storage facility near Jump Lake.

The Vancouver Island Water Watch group recommends all stakeholders come together  and begin creating a Nanaimo Watershed Board in order to protect Nanaimo’s watershed.

What if Nanaimo’s watershed was sold? Where would citizens get their water?

Nanaimo's Watershed is 83,000 hectares or 341 square miles
Nanaimo’s Watershed is 83,000 hectares or 341 square miles

Two professional foresters  gave a presentation on behalf of the timber companies.

Councillor Pratt asked if they knew how much the watershed lands were worth. The reply was no idea and the land is not for sale.

Mayor and council discussed for approximately 45 minutes if they should set up a Nanaimo Watershed Board. The City Manager suggested that City staff could put together a report so Council would have more information to make a decision.

Lessons from Shawnigan Lake

The Shawnigan Lake watershed was originally owned by one owner.  The land was sold,  clear-cut, subdivided, and sold again. Now there are many landowners, engaged in many activities, including four mining operations. One owner has a permit from the Ministry of the Environment to fill a rock quarry with toxic contaminated soil. This contaminated soil dump is approximately 15 meters from Shawnigan creek, the main tributary to Shawnigan Lake, the drinking water supply for 12,000 people.

At question period a speaker from Shawnigan Lake spoke about their watershed problems.  The residents have launched a million dollar lawsuit to try and protect their water from toxic waste contaminating their drinking water. The speaker encouraged others to lobby the provincial government for watershed lands to be protected throughout the province.

Nanaimo Watershed after 20 years 1994-2014
Nanaimo Watershed after 20 years 1994-2014 clear cut logging slowly coming back

There are 20 sub-watersheds that make up the Nanaimo watershed which drains into the Nanaimo River system.

86% of the Nanaimo Watershed has been logged and second growth forest is gradually coming back.

Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable began in 2011. It was the start of a conversation but Councillor Yoachim commented that Snuneymuxw First Nation was not invited. Councillor Kipp replied that several email invitations were sent to the SFN but no one was available to participate. It was not clear at the council meeting as to what progress the roundtable had made.  Weyerhaeuser once owned the lands in Nanaimo’s watershed which were then sold to Island Timberlands. Apparently, the logging in the picture above was done under Weyerhaeuser ownership.

Brookfield Asset Management

Brookfield Asset Management, along with two Canadian institutional partners, established Island Timberlands in 2005 with lands from Weyerhaeuser’s coastal assets.

In 2008, Brookfield Asset Management, which owns 50 percent of Island Timberlands, sold its timber and power assets to a Bermuda-based partnership.

Island Timberlands has 14,000 hectares of Vancouver Island identified as “higher and better-use” properties that could be developed or sold. In the nine months ending September  30, 2007,  Island Timberlands  sold $14 million of those properties for a net gain of $7 million.

LNG and watersheds

With new LNG plants planned for Port Alberni and Campbell River could fracking in Vancouver Island watersheds become a reality?

Here is the Nanaimo Watershed video presentation that was made to City Council on Monday night.

LNG in BC: petro-state politics Part 3 – LNG Money

This is part 3 of a 3-part series based on a presentation by investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk to Squamish residents last year on LNG in BC.

Natural Gas is expensive in Asia and cheap here in BC.  So the plan is we are going to make a bunch of LNG money.

The problem is Asia owns the terminals and the fracking companies. What does BC have left?

Japanese and Korean firms are partners in several projects and the pricing for those projects will have to satisfy the Natural Gas buyers. Where is the revenue?  Here is the value chain:

  • Upstream: drilling/fracking for the gas
  • Midstream: liquefying the gas and shipping
  • Downstream: re-gasifying

Most of the money normally comes from royalties from the ‘upstream’ activity of drilling and fracking.

So far, Natural Gas revenue has dropped from approximately $1 billion in 2007 to less than $300 million in 2013 even though we are producing more gas than we did in 2007.

Why are we making less money now when we are producing more gas?

In the United States they collect the money up front for their fracking projects. But in BC we are NOT collecting the money up front. According to Cambridge Energy Investments this is the most risky way to go about it.

With non-renewable resources you want to collect the revenue up front because of price volatility and you never know what is going to happen next in the markets and in the world.

Prosperity Fund

BC made a promise to get $100 billion dollars in a ‘prosperity fund’ by 2034.

How is this possible? The plan is to tax Natural Gas after the companies have recovered their capital investment. The government proposes to tax it 1.5%.  Ultimately, BC will have a royalty tax rate lower than Australia for LNG.

LNG Tax breaks

Pressing Ottawa for tax breaks are the four major LNG firms.  What are the subsidies and incentives provided by BC?  How is the BC government actively facilitating investment for shale gas? BC has assured the following for LNG investors:

  • lower royalties
  • reduced regulations
  • road access
  • geoscience information
  • access to well sites

BC government assures cooperation from:

  • federal agencies
  • provincial agencies
  • prescriptive regulations
  • interest groups

Since 2004, the BC government has provided:

  • $840 million in royalty credits for roads and pipelines
  • 2,434 miles of roads
  • 1,304 miles of pipe

Which works out to approximately a $1 billion subsidy to shale gas sector.

Site C and LNG

LNG projects need a lot of energy to operate all of their natural gas wells, pipelines and LNG terminals which is the reason why the Site C Dam is being pressed forward at this time. The Site C dam will cost taxpayers a minimum of $8 billion. Premier Christy Clark’s advisor is Glen Morgan the CEO of Encana, who once was the chairman of SNC Lavalin, but left when it was discovered that there were accusations of graft and corruption.

How much LNG to export?

The NEB has approved LNG projects that would allow for 14 billion cubic feet a year. Is this too much to give away?

The NEB admits that Canada will become a net gas importer by 2017 and remain so thereafter. In its reference case, the NEB suggests Canada will have no more than 4.5 bcf/d (billion cubic feet a day) of export capacity by 2035.

LNG in Australia

Australia currently has three LNG terminals in operation. Another six LNG terminals are under construction and nine are proposed for a total of 18 LNG terminals.

The Agorgan project in Australia had cost overruns. The project was to cost $9 billion and ended up costing $50 billion.

The Natural Gas that they produced had a 14% CO2 content.

In Australia they never did any proper environmental studies, as industry pushed hard against it. People are now finding methane bubbling up in fields and in rivers, and with so much gas in well water that people can light their water on fire from the faucet.

Australia now exports 90% of its gas. It has caused the collapse of the manufacturing sector and the retail sector is paying through the nose for electricity. Australia is paying very high domestic prices for energy yet it is ‘gas rich’.

LNG in BC

The end result for BC is that your average homeowner will see energy prices skyrocket.  The BC government’s approach is invite all the foreign LNG experts to:

  • build LNG terminals in modules in Asia
  • use foreign labour to assemble the LNG terminals here in BC

In return, the BC government will provide:

  • infrastructure
  • water
  • very low tax and royalty rates

BC taxpayers are not active participants in this type of plan. BC residents have to think and act like owners of a resource.

“Slow Down: behave like an owner”  Peter Lougheed

“…every region in the U.S. which has had shale development provides a cautionary tale. Economic stabilty has proved elusive. Environmental degradation and peripheral costs, however have proved very real indeed.”  Deborah Rogers, Investment Banker

LNG in BC: petro-state politics Part 2 – fracking

This is part 2 of a 3-part series based on a presentation by investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk to Squamish residents last year on LNG in BC.

What is shale gas?

Shale rocks are generally dense and black-coloured, formed from mud deposited at the bottom of past oceans, now solidified into rock. This mud is rich in un-decayed organic matter. When heated, the organic matter is transformed into oil and gas. Typically, this oil and gas is trapped between layers of shale and cannot be recovered through conventional drilling methods.

Fracking: what is it?

A well is sunk, which travels vertically through the overlying strata. When it reaches the shale layer, it becomes necessary to drill horizontally.

Horizontal frack well diagram
Horizontal frack well diagram

Modern wells are capable of drilling over 10km horizontally: such wells are called ‘extended reach laterals’. Once the horizontal well is drilled, it must be hydraulically stimulated, or as it has become known, “fracked”. The fractures themselves can extend well beyond the target because of the unpredictable nature of the shale formations. The horizontal well is “fracked” in portions, stage by stage every few hundred meters or so, meaning that a 2km lateral well might need 10 to 20 stages. For each stage, the targeted section of the well is sealed off  and a chemical mixture is pumped down at high pressure.

The pressure of the water is sufficient to open up pre-existing fractures in the rock, and to create new ones. These fractures are important, because they provide a pathway for the gas to flow out of the shale rock and into the well. Once that is done, sand and gravel (proppant) are pushed into the fractures that have been created, literally ‘propping’ them open, ensuring that the gas can continue to flow.

The total fracking activity in the United States now uses about same energy as 11 nuclear power plants.  Not to mention the water, sand and chemicals required.

Hydraulic fracturing was first done in the 1950s, but wells were sunk straight down; horizontal wells were not in use until recently.

Fracking BC

In order to get the volume of Natural Gas needed to fill all these proposed LNG terminals,  vast areas will need to be fracked.  Essentially ¼ of the province will be fracked.

According to coal experts if five big LNG plants go ahead in BC then in order to keep those LNG terminals full it is going to require approximately 50,000 wells over the next 27 years.  Or about 3,000 wells started each year.

Nine trillion cubic feet (tcf) per year of natural gas production and exports is planned by 2020. That is equivalent to 2 million barrels of oil per day, roughly the current level of production in Alberta’s oilsands.  The current existing Canadian production is 5.3 tcf a year.

Pioneer of Fracking

United States is the pioneer of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and they are only recovering 10 to 20% of the resource. The problems they have encountered are:

  • pore spaces are 1000× smaller*
  • can’t control the direction, width and size of fracks
  • radioactive material
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • saline water
  • high CO2 content

*Compared to sandstones and limestones, shales tend to have lower porosity, making it harder for the oil and gas to move about through the shale. This means that it is harder to extract gas from shale than from conventional reservoirs where the fluids can flow more freely.

What do you do with all that CO2? In BC we are now venting it out into the atmosphere.  Australia is trying to bury it in the ground at great expense.

Shale gas wells have a rapid depletion rate of 80% whereas regular oil wells deplete at the rate of 20% to 30%.

Fracking operations are very complex. One problem in Northern BC is that companies are continually fracking into other companies’ fields. This is because of the horizontal wells.

A fracking project in Northeastern BC in the Horn River area had 16 wells sunk which required:

  • 417 million gallons of water
  • 78,400 tons of sand
  • 8 million gallons of fracking chemicals
  • 500 frack intervals
  • 10,000 foot laterals
  • 40,000 horsepower for fracking pumps

The fracking in northern BC uses 3× more water than other fracking sites.  Every year fracking in BC requires the same volume of water used by the City of Calgary.

Ground Water:

According to experts we don’t know where our aquifers are, how shallow they are, how big they are or how deep they are. We don’t know the water table elevation, we don’t know in which direction the ground water moves, we have no information.

The government of BC doesn’t even have a ground water monitoring program set up in the north where they are fracking now.

Last year the Minister of Natural Gas Rich Coleman tried to assure BC residents,

“the reality is we’ve been doing this for over 50 years, we’ve never had contamination from a drill, we’ve never had a drill stem leak or fail. We do it as well or better than anybody else in the world.”

Considering that there were no horizontal frack wells fifty years ago, isn’t that a misleading statement? There are only 6 monitoring wells for over 25,000 wells in the north. Who is tracking the contamination?

The more industry fracks shale formations the greater the risk to aquifers and ground water from methane leaks and contamination.

Methane gas gets into ground water. A study conducted by Duke University found that in  60 drinking water wells in Pennsylvania,  51 wells had 17 times higher methane and ethane content. This was because of leaky well casings, fracks had generated new fractures and or enlarged existing fracks which allowed the methane and ethane to escape into the water. They documented over 200 cases of ground water contamination.

Methane and CO2 venting:

On average 60% of aging wells leak methane gas.  Industry calls this “gas migration”. It is a big problem, expensive to fix and difficult to completely stop.

Currently, there are 27,000 wells and 10% of them are leaking methane, and are super emitters. The fumes and emissions from these wells are incredible.

The problem is the fractures are uncontrollable. Fractures can spread out in all directions and this causes a waste of energy, a waste of fluids and chemicals, and wells end up fracturing into each other. Ultimately, water tables get contaminated and chemicals can pool on the ground.

So far, the BC government has yet to do a study on the impacts of fracking and LNG on the environment.  This includes water, land, and air issues.  Squamish residents have a right to be concerned.

Part 3 coming soon.

LNG in BC: petro-state politics – 3 part series

What is happening with the LNG in BC?

British Columbia is counting on three LNG projects operating by 2020 in Prince Rupert, Squamish, and Port Alberni.

On Thursday, February 19th, Prime Minster Harper arrived in Surrey to announced 10 years of tax relief for the BC LNG industry, including a joint venture led by Malaysia’s state-owned PETRONAS.

When the BC government  unveiled its provincial LNG tax structure last October,  Petronas president Shamsul Azhar Abbas requested more incentives to do business in BC.

Meanwhile, in Squamish and West Vancouver open houses were recently held by the LNG industry to answer questions regarding the proposed new LNG Plant in Squamish.

This is a 3-part series based on a presentation by investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk to Squamish residents last year on LNG in BC. In his presentation, Nikiforuk covered the following points:

  • LNG overview
  • Who are the Players?
  • Fracking—what is it?
  • Economics— the money
  • Australia’s experience—10 years with LNG
  • Fracking of coal seams, what does this mean?

So far there are 15 proposals for LNG projects in BC.  This would change the direction of BC for the future.

LNG explained:

LNG has been around for about 50 years. The first LNG tanker was made in 1957. The technology back then to liquefy Natural Gas was too expensive so it didn’t really take off.

Basically you are taking gas and cooling it down so that it could fit in a quart of milk, for example. You have to use energy to cool it down.

Natural Gas is expensive. It costs between 7 and 10 times more to transport LNG than oil or coal. This is why most Natural Gas is consumed in its region of origin because it is too expensive to transport.

The challenges with Natural Gas are: liquefying, transporting and re-gasifying.

The LNG game:

It wasn’t until Qatar started putting Natural Gas on the market in 2002 that the market got heated up plus many other countries got in on the game.  There has been an explosive growth of Natural Gas extraction. Here are some of the major players in LNG in the world today:

  •  Australia
  •  Qatar
  •  Malaysia
  •  USA
  • Nigeria
  • Indonesia
  • Trinidad/Tobago
  • Algeria
  • Russia

BC is new to the LNG game. This is a very expensive game to get into.  One of the things that has changed is the price differentials around the world. Natural Gas prices are low in the United States due to the shale boom.  Prices in Asia are much higher.

So the idea is “why don’t we sell our cheap BC Natural Gas over in Asia and we can beat them at their prices?”

How are you going to pay for building these projects?

LNG projects are complex and costly. We know that hydro carbons are getting more expensive to capture. The fact that we have to go off shore and look for oil is another indicator that we are running into the age of extreme hydrocarbons. Extreme hydrocarbons means:

  • high capital
  • high energy output
  • high environmental costs
  • high complexity
  • high risk

One of the challenges is that building LNG infrastructure is getting more and more expensive. We have captured all the cheap stuff at the top. Now we are at the bottom. Industry is doubling what it is spending just to get the hydrocarbons out of the ground.

Out of the last 12 LNG projects, 10 went over budget, many by as much as 40% to 50%.

Now we are trying to crack open rock that is as tight as granite (that is what shale formations are like) in northern BC in the Montney Formation. So we have to use brute force to open the rocks.  This process involves using a fleet of engines to blast water, sand and chemicals at extremely high pressures 1 to 2 miles underground in order to break open the rock.

From 2000 to 2013 industry spending has grown from $400 billion to $900 billion to extract  hydrocarbons. Costs are growing more to extract but production is flat. Cost overruns are telling us something about the resource. Since 2000, liquefaction unit costs have tripled or even quadrupled in this time period.

Not all projects work out. Four out of every five oil and gas mega-projects fail.  So projects are sped up resulting in cutting corners which is a recipe for failure.

Who owns the LNG resource?

Minister of Natural Gas Rich Coleman, says it’s you the taxpayer:

“We are your partners in this. You need to know we’re going to make this a win for you. We know in our government… That profit is a very good word and profit means that everybody wins. And you need to win large enough for your large investments…we will beat Australia, we will beat them hands down.” Min. Natural Gas 2013.

Fracking Vancouver Island

Coal is found only in sedimentary rocks. The coalfields on Vancouver Island are:

  • Cowichan coalfield
  • Nanaimo coalfield
  • Alberni coalfield
  • Comox coalfield – active coal operation
  • Suquash coalfield
  • Quatsino Sound coalfield

Water quality concerns:
Imagine fracking Vancouver Island. What will that do to water quality on the Island?
“because of the shallow depth of many CBM (coalbed methane basins), the potential exists for a fracture growing out of zone and affecting freshwater aquifers. Schlumberger 2009

LNG terminal in Campbell River

Another proposal to turn an old pulp mill site to an LNG terminal is in Campbell River. Quicksilver Resources Inc. is a Texas based oil and gas company. Quicksilver’s main expertise is fracking coal. There are coal seams on Vancouver Island. They have been involved in fracking coal fields in Alberta over that last 10 years.

Why would you put an LNG terminal in Campbell River? Where is the Natural Gas going to come from? It will cost $4B to $5B to build an LNG plant.  Most likely, Quicksilver will go after Natural Gas reserves on Vancouver Island.

As an example, more than 20,000 wells have been drilled over the past 5 to 6 years in Quicksilver’s Alberta operation.

Who are the players?

1. Sukanto Tanoto is a billionaire tycoon with interests in palm oil, pulp, timber, oil and gas and is behind Woodfibre LNG in Squamish.

Tanoto owns the world’s largest pulp company, Royal Golden Eagle company. One of Tanoto’s companies is called APRIL, Asia-Pacific Resources International Ltd.  Nearly half of the deforestation in the Sumatran tiger habitat between 2009 and 2011 was in pulp concessions. APRIL group was responsible for a sixth of all forested tiger habitat loss over this period.

Giant palm oil branch of the Royal Golden Eagle International conglomerate of forestry, rubber and palm plantation companies, owned by the billionaire tycoon Sukanto Tanoto, was using a web of shell companies based in Road Town and other tax havens to enable its palm oil companies to evade tax. – Guardian May 10, 2014

In January 2013 it was reported that Indonesia’s Supreme Court ordered Tanoto’s company Asia Agri to pay more than US$390 million to the state for tax evasion. According to evidence contained in the 8,000 court papers, Asia Agri which employs 25,000 people across 14 subsidiaries and owns 165,000 hectares of plantations, was engaged in routine and systematic fraudulent accounting practices. They were setting up shell companies in the British Virgin Islands.

Pacific Oil and Gas is another division of Tanoto’s company. It is one of only two foreign owned companies allowed to invest in Chinese LNG infrastructure. For some strange reason this guy has a sweetheart deal with China and has the one LNG terminal in China. Very strange for a protectionist country.

2. Petronas: Petroliam National Berhad is a Malaysia state-owned company that’s been around for over 40 years with operations around the world. Petronas provides 40% of their government’s revenue.

Petronas reports directly to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, bypassing parliament. Therefore it has very low levels of transparency and accountability. They have major investments in BC and Alberta in the energy sector. They purchased various Canadian owned energy companies.

In 2013, two senior managers at PETRONAS were charged with graft and money laundering for $RM1 million.  As a result, EITI approached Petronas to adopt transparency standards. Petronas doesn’t want to sign onto transparency suggested through EITI standards.

Petronas, was “ready to call off” its project in BC amid delays in the approval process and the recent imposition of an LNG tax by the BC government and a “lack of appropriate incentives” Financial Times of London re Prince Rupert project.

Now with Stephen Harper’s recent announcement, it looks like PETRONAS has got their way.

3. SINOPEC is a Chinese state-owned mega-player in the LNG industry.

Part 2 coming soon…

Wellcox Lands Soil Contamination and Taxes

At this Monday night’s Nanaimo council meeting there are some interesting topics on the agenda for the public to follow:

1) council meeting times—do they stay the same or change?
2) 2015 property taxes
3) Wellcox Lands soil contamination study
4) 614 Lambert Ave from 1 lot to 10 lots

Nanaimo residential property taxes over next 5 years

20152016201720182019
1%1.5%4.5%2.5%1.8%

The taxes for 2015 have been reduced from 1.8% to 1%.  The suggested 2015 budget  items to cut are:

  • remove budget for 3 additional RCMP members · $326,000
  • reduce management consultant budget · $91,510
  • reduce staff training budget · $76, 490
  • reduce firefighters clothing budget · $25,000
  • increase aquatic centre fees · $75,000
  • eliminate parks recreation and environmental master plan · $75,000
  • reduce Linley Valley improvement project · $50,000
  • eliminate fire training reserve · $25,000

The total proposed budget cuts amount to $744,000.

If the fire hall on Hammond Bay Road goes ahead in 2015 then staffing costs will increase to $1 million per year.

Welllcox Lands
A detailed site investigation has been completed of the Wellcox Lands site contamination. A full presentaton will be given by the City’s real estate manager at the next council meeting.

Wellcox Lands Nanaimo
$200K in soil contamination studies planned for 2015 at Wellcox Lands Nanaimo

In March 2013, the City of Nanaimo purchased 26.7 acres (10.8 ha) of land at 1 Port Drive.

The area was originally filled in by the Vancouver Coal Mining Company. The coal mine stopped operation in 1953.  The land was sold to CP Rail who then developed the Wellcox  Yard for transportation and distribution of goods.

Seaspan Corporation occupies 15.5 acres, Island Corridor Foundation and Southern Rail occupy 2.53 acres.  The City terminated the lease to Island Pallet Solutions and demolished the buildings over the 1 acre site. Now the City has a tenative lease with Island Ferries for 2.35 acres. Also, 3  acres are set aside for a transportation hub.

Soil contamination
In 2009, a study was done by SNC Lavalin on the entire Wellcox Lands regarding the contamination hot spots. A budget of $210,000 has been set aside to continue soil testing and sampling groundwater for 2015.

Harewood Neighbourhood plan will gets some changes with the new subdivision at 614 Lambert Avenue. One lot is to be subdivided into ten small lots.  Many speakers have come to council before to express their concerns over small lot developments in Nanaimo with no provision made for boulevards or green spaces.


Update February 17, 2015: what happened at Nanaimo Council on Monday night:
Council and Committee of the Whole meetings will continue to be held on Monday nights. There was no motion to move the meetings to Thursdays during the day. Agendas for meetings are to be ready earlier at 12pm on Tuesday.

Vote on taxes is delayed until the next COW meeting. Councillors Kipp, Hong, Yoachim and Bestwick voted against the 1% tax increase this year as they wanted to see further tax cuts. The motion to pass the 1% tax increase failed as it was a tie vote 4 against and 4 supporting.

Councillor Kipp next put forward a motion for a 2% tax cut. This motion failed with a tie vote, 4 against and 4 supporting.

The Nanaimo Chamber representative gave a presentation to council and requested that they not raise commercial taxes from now until 2020.

In the City’s presentation to council on the Wellcox Lands it was mentioned site remediation could cost between $10 and $30 million to clean up the site depending on what was discovered. Council approved $210,000 for continued soil contamination studies.

Councillor Bestwick asked and received confirmation that a First Nations midden was found when the Island Pallet building and foundation was removed. Councillor Yoachim, a member of Snuneymuxw First Nation, made no comment regarding the discovery of the archaeological site.