Crude Observations

Canada D’eh!

It’s time for my annual celebration of all things canucklehead, what with Canada’s National Holiday, the NHL season opener, just around the corner. What’s that? Oh, oops, sorry. What with Canada Day, just around the corner. Canada Day being the day that we discovered we could appropriate the practice developed by first nations of tapping into the sweet spring sap of maple trees and making a syrup out of it, or, put another way, drinking tree blood. What? Wrong again? Egads. OK. One last try. Canada Day, the day our nation was founded, after  24 some-odd men with varying degrees of vaguely hipsterish facial hair got together in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to start the protracted negotiation that ultimately led to the Queen proclaiming this contract that made this weird mishmash of a country possible. How very Canadian, n’est ce pas?


And, in the spirit of Canada Day and laziness engendered by what is the first long weekend of the holiday season, I am reproducing in modified form my annual Ode to Canada, not only for the benefit of any American and international readers who may be wondering just what the heck this country is all about, but also as a reminder to all of us to take a step back, think about what makes this country unique and special and appreciate that no matter how much strum und drang we create for ourselves, we’ve really got a sweet gig going here.


But, before I go there, a few housekeeping items, because there’s some important stuff going on this weekend.




This is it folks, the big showdown. Trump-Xi. The Hakkah in Osaka. It’s the meeting everyone is counting on to find out if this completely pointless and global economy crushing tariff war can finally start winding down or are we stuck with this for good. Interestingly, Trump has softened his stance against China somewhat in the last week and has, bizarrely, turned his attention to Vietnam, which of course isn’t suyubject to tariffs and is the next logical destination for low-cost sourcing. Proving yet again that tariffs are dumb, self-defeating and in a globally connected economy, don’t bring industries “back home”, instead just chase them to ever lower cost producing regions. You would think Trump’s crack economic advisory team of Peter Navarro and his cat would know this, but I guess they skipped those classes in economics school. As a sideline to the Wham-Bam in Japan grudge match, we have Canada politely waiting on the sidelines wondering when a giant portion of our export economy can stop being held hostage because we are making a Chinese billionaire stay in her West Vancouver mansion – oh the hardship. Trump says he will press our case, but I rather suspect that is low priority. My expectations for any significant developments out of the G20 are slim, but the entertainment level is high. Any gathering where the advance team of a participating country can be busted for smuggling 39 kilos of cocaine has got to have some pretty lively parties.


OPEC+ Meeting


This meeting should be pretty fun. That’s all I’m going to really say. Originally scheduled for last week, it was delayed, mainly I suspect to allow Mohammed Bin Salman to meet with Russia at the G20 to figure out in advance what the conclusion should be. The dilemma – continue the cuts enacted oh those many months ago, abandon them or cut even more. At the moment we are at a bit of a crossroads. The price of oil has been up and down as appearances of abundant supply and reckless production growth in the United States collide with a tariff induced global slowdown and attendant reduction in demand growth and cross paths with an increasingly unstable situation in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran, exacerbated by a seemingly without thought or plan sanctions regime against Iran by the United States, accompanied by a fair amount of bravado and bellicosity. In all reality, the market is probably tighter than many people think, but the signal needs to be delivered that the Saudis and OPEC+ remain committed to reducing global inventories or the price could easily fall into the 40’s.


Taken together, these two gatherings will set the direction of the global economy and the price of oil for the balance of the year. So they are kind of important.


All things considered – a status quo out of both should actually be considered a win.


Anyway, on to the true north strong and free.


As Canadians, we often describe ourselves as boring, polite, followers of the rule of law and respectful of authority. Of course we aren’t always like that since we did after all BURN DOWN the White House in 1814 except of course that wasn’t us, it was the British. And it wasn’t the White House, it was the presidential residence. But really, why split hairs – we did it and it’s pretty badass if you ask me.


ANYWAY, Canada right? Pretty dull, yet nonetheless a complex and puzzling place. It shouldn’t actually work, yet strangely it does…


Some history…


As a country and nation, we are not forged in the hot contest of bloody revolution and trial by fire experienced by our much larger southern neighbour or the result of some geographic accident of tribal movements across a continent like much of the rest of the world, but Canada is nevertheless unique.


Canada as a nation is a meticulously assembled patchwork of distinct geographic areas and populations, brought together through polite and deferential negotiation. The articles of Confederation that came to being in 1867 were motivated as much through a desire to form a nation as to establish a bulwark against the emerging industrial powerhouse that the United States was becoming after the end of the US Civil War. A “thanks but no thanks” economic and political union.


The initial members of this union were of course the Maritime provinces, Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) soon to be followed by British Columbia and the “middle” – Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and, interestingly, Newfoundland on April Fool’s Day in 1949. Ironically, it was the promise of a massive infrastructure project to the coast that was required to bribe BC to come on board. If you think of Canada as a cow, imagine that the West feeds the cow, the centre milks the cow and the east? You tell me. This might actually help make sense of why the dairy industry is so protected.


One of the defining features of Canada is the spirit of compromise that allowed it to be formed in the first place. I can think of no other place in the world where a fiery and proud Francophone culture like Quebec coexists with the stiff upper lip blandness of the British/Anglo Saxon heritage of Ontario and the Maritimes while continually getting poked in the eye by brash upstarts from the frontier in the West. It’s a goofy marriage of convenience that should never have worked yet somehow does.


Where does it come from? It comes from the people and the origin story. It comes from a bunch of guys in a room saying hey, I bet if we tie all these things together, it’ll be funny.


And from these humble beginnings we get the remarkable thing that is Canada today.


So what is Canada today? I bet a lot of you would like to know. Heck, I’d like to know!


Well, if Canada were a person, we would say that Canada is compassionate. Canada is polite. Canada is firm. Canada is inventive. Canada is welcoming. Canada is pragmatic. Canada has a wickedly sarcastic sense of humour. A lot of Canada plays hockey. Canada has snow. And yes, Canada has some nasty baggage it is dealing with.


Chief among this baggage, let’s be realistic almost exclusively, is Canada’s legacy of colonialism and mistreatment of its indigenous populations. This history that we share in many ways with our southern neighbours is one which we are incrementally but painfully trying to deal with as a nation. It isn’t easy and a large part of our future will be defined by how we deal with these ongoing issues, but in this, as in many things Canadian, I have confidence in resolution. Why? Because it’s what we do. Want proof? Well even as I write, there is a massive rewriting of the relationship between First Nations and the rest of Canada as First Nations come to the realization of the massive economic power they actually wield. This is especially true in resource rich Western Canada, And with this realization is coming ownership, investment, employment and, over the long term sovereign wealth, and self-sufficiency. And all of this is being encouraged, supported and in some cases funded by the private sector and provincial and federal governments. Think First Nations ownership of TransMountain is a great initiative? Take a look around – that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


This aside (or even included for what country is without original sin), we have much to be proud of and (aside from the mostly lousy weather, who’s kidding who) Canada remains one of the best countries in the world in which to live and a land of innumerable and occasionally remarkable accomplishments, invention and natural bounty.


So, as is common in most of these pro-Canada celebratory missives, in no particular order some of Canada’s most significant contributions to the world at large and defining characteristics include:


Canadian inventions/creations of significance include the zipper. Not only that how about peanut butter, insulin, the telephone, basketball (sorry USA), the pacemaker, bagged milk, POUTINE, the paint roller, the Wonderbra, the retractable beer carton handle, plexiglass, IMAX, standard time, snowmobiling, ham and pineapple pizza (hawaian), the lightbulb, the Bloody Caesar (try it), , the caulking gun, lacrosse, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit and SUPERMAN!!!!!


Geographically and resource-wise, Canada is the second largest country in the world, has the 3rd largest reserves of oil and the 10th largest reserves of natural gas. At 348 million hectares, we have 9% of the world’s forest land or an area 4 times the size of Texas. Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium and has the largest reserves. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash. Canada is the 5th largest producer of gold, in the top 5 in diamond production and in the top 10 for virtually any other metal you can think of or find in a high school text book.


On the food and agriculture front, Canada is the 5th largest agricultural exporter in the world, and the agriculture and agri-food industry employs 2.2 million Canadians. We produce about 80% of the world’s maple syrup, we are the world’s largest exporter and among the largest producers of flaxseed, canola, pulses and durum wheat. We are the world’s largest producer of Poutine, which is grown in micro-farms in the Eastern Townships of Quebec


On the cultural side, yes we did produce Celine Dion, Nickelback, Justin Bieber, Samantha Bee, Drake and Jim Carrey and we collectively have apologized for that repeatedly. However, we are also responsible for such cultural icons as Neil Young, Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynolds, Leonard Cohen, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdam, Kiefer Sutherland, Mike Myers and Seth Rogen among others, not to mention media heavyweights like Morley Safer, David Frum and Peter Jennings. And who could forget the crown prince of Canadians hogging the spotlight south of the border – that’s right, James T. Kirk or as we know him, William “f-ing” Shatner or, sadly, the Shat.


And, of course, there’s hockey. ‘nuff said.


But we’re not just food, natural resources, entertainers, stick swingers and creators of both remarkably and questionably useful inventions. Canada is much more than that.


We are a country with world-leading innovation across virtually all industries – from finance to biotech to engineering. We are a society and a nation built on immigration. We don’t actually care where you are from, we are more interested in what you bring.


We are inclusive and welcoming. We are governed by a fundamental belief in human rights, social justice and progressive ideals. Equality of all people and equal access to rights and liberties is fundamental to who we are. And we will fight for it.


One thing Canada isn’t? We aren’t a pushover. We don’t like to be pushed around and no matter our internal differences, we can set them aside if we feel slighted. And if it’s about hockey it’s even worse. We don’t like our character questioned and if anyone is going to insult our political leaders, it’s going to be us dammit! I suppose that’s pretty much the story for most countries, but a bit less expected from prim and proper Canadians.


Along that vein, we are a peace-loving nation, but Canada has nonetheless participated in most of the major conflicts of modern history because it was the right thing to do and our armed forces are recognized for their valour and skill. We don’t brag about it, we kinda just do it. But we appreciate the pat on the back we occasionally get.


Some people will say we are defined by our approach to health care. And notwithstanding that universal health care isn’t unique to Canada, it is hard to argue with that. While often maligned and mocked here and abroad for some of its widely known inefficiencies, our Canadian health care system is a fundamental projection of the Canadian progressive spirit, a fully funded single payer system that recognizes that universal access to affordable health care is a right. Can it be better? Sure. Can it be worse? I don’t know, is there a readily available example of a broken private health care system with runaway costs handy? The point is, as a country we decided that we would take care of each other’s health. And it works.


As Canadians, I believe we are among the luckiest people in the world because we get to live in the best country in the world.


We elect governments that sit on either side of the ideological divide, but never so far in either direction as to really screw it up. Each party has its bozos, morons and stars and somehow we make it through. Our checks and balances work and no one is in a hurry to grab hold of all of it and be the ultimate boss – the job just doesn’t pay that much.


We are important enough in the world to be part of the G7 and unimportant enough to have debates about whether the prime minister should have a playground at his summer retreat and whether parody twitter accounts pose a national threat. Honestly, this is some of the stuff we argue about. It’s actually ridiculous. We may not throw people out of restaurants for being on one side of the aisle or the other, but buy a $14 orange juice and watch the career suicide clock tick down to zero. How awesome is that? It’s downright liberating!


We are a society that can have its Prime Minister walk down the street participating in a Pride Parade or attending a Championship celebration (We the North! Take that NBA) attended by 1.5 million people WITH HIS KIDS and have no visible security presence. Like the leaders or not, this type of openness and safety and normalness towards our political leaders feels unique relative to pretty much anywhere in the world.


Looking to the future, it is hard not to believe that Canada has some of the greatest opportunities for economic and social advancement of any country in the world.


And China and US trade tiffs? Pipeline delays? These too shall pass. We know what we have and we know what people want. It’ll all work out. One party may pass a law that goes to the extreme in one direction, another may choose to reverse that direction, at the end of the day, it’ll be tested, the bad parts will be fixed or swept under the rug and we’ll move on. It’s the way we do things.


Where am I going with this? Not some “post-national” absurd navel gazing, instead some very practical  and very Canadian “this is the way things are” pragmatism. It’s hard to miss the Canadian opportunity.


We have oil and stuff. Our country generally rocks. We’ve been there before, we’ll be there again. Give it your worst. It’ll work out fine eh.


Bob’s your uncle.


Prices as at June 28 (June 21), 2019

  • Finally oil prices rally!
    • Storage posted a decrease week over week
    • Production was down marginally and remains higher than last year this at this time
    • The rig count in the US and Alberta improved slightly while the rig count in Saskatchewan was down.
    • Natural gas storage was down, but remains higher than this point last year
  • WTI Crude: $58.06 ($57.61)
  • Western Canada Select: $44.02 ($43.85)
  • AECO Spot : $1.29 ($0.86)
  • NYMEX Gas: $2.328 ($2.19)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7650 ($0.7544)


  • As at June 21, 2019, US crude oil supplies were at 469.6 million barrels, a decrease of 12.8 million barrels from the previous week and 52.9 million barrels above last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage is 27.4 compared to 23.7 last year at this time.
    • Production was down for the week at 12.250 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 10.900 million barrels per day.
    • Imports fell to 7.415 million barrels from 7.467 million barrels per day compared to 8.261 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US rose to 3.770 million barrels per day from 3.422 million barrels per day last week compared to 3.000 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.219 million barrels a day, down from 3.688
    • Refinery inputs rose during the during the week to 17.151 million barrels per day
  • As at June 26, 2019, US natural gas in storage was 2.301 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is about 7% lower than the 5-year average and about 9% higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 98 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption rose by 4% during the report week
    • Production for the week was flat week over week. Imports from Canada decreased 2% from the week before. Exports to Mexico were flat
    • LNG exports totaled 28.0 Bcf
  • As of June 21, 2019, the Canadian rig count was up 5 at 124 (AB – 69; BC – 13; SK – 37; MB – 3; Other – 2). Rig count for the same period last year was 172.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at June 28, 2019 is at 793, up 4 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States was down 4 at 173.
    • Peak rig count before the downturn was November 11, 2014 at 356 (note the actual peak gas rig count was 1,606 on August 29, 2008)
  • Offshore rig count was up 2 to 26.
    • Offshore peak rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55

US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 80%/20%, in Canada the split is 67%/33%

Trump Watch: Not my type. G20.

Kenney Watch (new!)Bill whatever – there’s some anger being directed at our fearless leader.

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