Crude Observations


I believe it is well established at this moment in time that I, like many energy sector participants, am not terribly patient when it comes to infrastructure. I want my pipelines and I want them yesterday. It goes without saying that a strong regulatory approval process is required, environmental protections must be in place and proper consultations held. But it’s the waiting that kills you. And it’s not even. Why do some projects take so long and others seem to get approved in the blink of an eye?


It’s not a level playing field and it often makes no sense. Consider the currently under construction Heartland Petrochemical Complex, currently under construction by InterPipeline. This $3.5 billion project was conceived in 2015, received regulatory approval and a Final Investment Decision shortly thereafter, saw construction commence in 2018 and is expected to be in service by 2021. Don’t get me wrong, this is an impressive and necessary project and kudos to InterPipe for getting it done, but consider that in the same time frame, we have seen the Northern Gateway and Energy East projects shelved, and the Kinder Morgan TransMountain Expansion approved, delayed, challenged, purchased and delayed yet again.


The difference? Clearly it is the party that regulates and ultimately approves these projects. In the case of the expedited one – the government of Alberta – previous or current – that will act in an expedited manner to get things done. The other? A monolithic beast of conflicted economic and political priorities, rife with palace intrigue and environmental virtue signalling controlled by the inscrutable unknown that passes for deep thought inside the head of one Justin Trudeau.


It boggles the mind, this theatre of the absurd, the waiting, the existential angst, the uncertainty, the banality. It is both excruciating and exhausting. Yet it also allows us to learn about ourselves I guess, this introspective phase that we seem to be in.


Al least it has done so for me. And, as luck would have it, it has also allowed me to express my thoughts and learnings in the form of a (mostly stolen) play, which I will share with you today. Warning, it’s a tough read and there is no prize at the end.


I call it…


Waiting for Trudeau


Setting the scene


Oil Patch Joe is sitting on the ground near what appears to be a pipeline right of way in a wide open prairie field. The only thing visible nearby is a large tree. There are no leaves on the tree, but it is not readily apparent whether it is winter, spring or fall.


Oil Patch Joe looks like he is struggling to get a workboot off, but it isn’t working. Exhausted he gives up. Tries again, gives up again. At that moment Kenney appears.


Joe:                Nothing to be done.


Kenney:       I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying Kenney, be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle.


Joe:                I am glad to see you again. I would get up but I can’t.


Kenney:       That’s fine


Joe:                Where did you spend the night.


Kenney:       In Ottawa.


Joe:                Ugh. Did they beat you?


Kenney:       Of course they did. Not physically, but it was a vacuous intellectual bludgeoning.


Joe:                It’s not worth it.


Kenney:       (gloomily) It’s too much for one man. (Pause. Cheerfully.) On the other hand what’s the good of losing heart now, that’s what I say. We should have thought of it a million years ago, in the nineties


Joe:                Help me with my boot.


(both struggle with the boot but give up)


Kenney:       Boots must be taken off every day.



Joe, with a mammoth effort, manages to pull off a boot. He shakes it, looks inside, shakes it again and holds it upside down. Shakes it again, looks inside and puts it down.


Joe:                Nothing


Kenney:       Show me


Joe:                There’s nothing to show.


Kenney:       There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.


Joe:                I remember the maps of the Pipeline Route. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The Salish Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That’s where we’ll go, I used to say, that’s where we’ll go with our oil. We’ll swim. We’ll be happy.


Kenney:       You should have been a poet.


Joe:                I was. Isn’t that obvious?


Kenney:       Well?


Joe:                (spits) Charming spot. Inspiring prospects. Let’s dig.


Kenney:       We can’t


Joe:                Why not?


Kenney:       We’re waiting for Trudeau.


Joe:                Ah. You’re sure it was here?


Kenney:       What?


Joe:                Where we are to wait


Kenney:       He said by the tree. Do you see any others?


Joe:                What kind of tree is it?


Kenney:       I don’t know.


Joe:                He should be here


Kenney:       He didn’t say for sure he’d come


Joe:                And if he doesn’t come today?


Kenney:       Then we will come back tomorrow


Joe:                And then the day after tomorrow


Kenney:       Possibly


Joe:                And so on


Kenney:       Until he comes


Joe:                You are merciless. We weren’t here yesterday.


Kenney:       Yes we were. Don’t you recognize the place?


Joe:                Let’s stop talking for a minute (falls asleep)


Kenney;       Wake up


Joe:                What?


Kenney:       Nothing. I was bored.


Joe:                Can we leave?


Kenney:       Better to wait and see what he says


Joe:                Who?


Kenney:       Trudeau


Joe:                Ah


Kenney:       I’m curious to hear what he’ll offer. Then we’ll take it or leave it


Joe:                What exactly did we ask him for?


Kenney:       Were you not there?


Joe:                I wasn’t listening


Kenney:       Nothing definite


Joe:                A kind of prayer


Kenney:       Precisely


Joe:                A sort of supplication


Kenney:       Precisely


Joe:                And what did he reply?


Kenney:       That he’d have to think it over.In the quiet of his home. Consult his agents. His family. His friends. His books. His bank accounts. Before making a decision.


Joe:                It’s a normal thing


Kenney:       I think so.


Joe:                And us?


Kenney:       What?


Joe:                Where do we come in. Do we have no rights? No prerogative?


Kenney:       We got rid of them.


Joe:                Listen!


Kenney:       I hear nothing


Joe:                I thought it was him


Kenney:       Who?


Joe:                Trudeau


Kenney:       Oh. Do you want a carrot?


Joe:                That’s not a carrot, it’s a turnip. Give it to me. Are we tied down?


Kenney:       To who?


Joe:                Trudeau


Kenney:       Tied? To Trudeau? What an idea! No question of it. For the moment


Joe:                His name is Trudeau?


There is a cry in the distance. Kenney and Joe turn towards it and eventually two figures appear. The first appears to be on a leash and is carrying a gas can and a legal briefcase. The second is holding the leash and also has a whip.


Joe:                Why is he tied up? And who are you? Are you him?


Suzuki:          He is wicked. Who is him?


Kenney:       Are you Trudeau?


Suzuki:          (terrifying voice). I am Suzuki! (Silence.) Suzuki! (Silence.) Does that name mean nothing to you? (Silence.) I say does that name mean nothing to you?


Joe:                Bazooki?


Kennney:    Wookie?


Suzuki:          You are human beings none the less. (He puts on his glasses.) As far as one can see. (He takes off his glasses.) Of the same species as myself. Who is Trudeau?


Kenney:       Oh, he’s a … kind of acquaintance


Joe:                It was the waiting


Suzuki:          Waiting? You are waiting for Trudeau?


Joe:                We didn’t intend any harm


Suzuki:          Here, on my land?


Joe and Kenney circle the other individual for observation.


Kenney:       What ails him?


Joe:                Why won’t he put down the gas can?


Kenney:       Perhaps he’s a half-wit


Joe:                It’s a scandal, to treat a man like that. A scandal.


Suzuki:          Think twice before you do anything rash. Suppose you go now while it is still day, for there is no denying it is still day. (They all look up at the sky.) Good. (They stop looking at the sky.) What happens in that case –what happens in that case to your appointment with this . . . Trudope . . . Trudeau . . . Potato . . . anyhow you see who I mean, who has your future in his hands . . . (pause) . . . at least your immediate future?


Kenney:       Will night never come?


Suzuki:          Why it’s very natural, very natural. I myself in your situation, if I had an appointment with a Trudope . . . Potato . . . Trudeau . . . anyhow, you see who I mean, I’d wait till it was black night before I gave up.  I’d very much like to sit down, but I don’t quite know how to go about it.


Joe:                Can I be of assistance?


Suzuki:          Gentlemen, you have been … civil to me. Is there anything I can do, that’s what I ask myself, to cheer them up? I have given them bones, I have talked to them about this and that, I have explained the twilight, admittedly. But is it enough, that’s what tortures me, is it enough? Let the other speak!


Horgan:        I am Horgan Transmountain gas important lower mainland fuel prices carbon tax money laundering real estate prices too high gas prices too high refiners fault gouging turn off the taps legislation bad can’t get re-elected without support of green gong-show entitled intellectuals no projects to the north need more fuel but no pipeline expansion the whales are in danger so much sewage but tankers up and some from Washington don’t understand why prices are high it isn’t my fault need to ban tankers just not the ones we need and maybe some others but cruise ships are fine no more unconstitutional obstruction no more pipelines wait no jurisdiction drat I guess we can pretend but the pipe is coming so I guess maybe it’s for the best


Suzuki:          Well, we are leaving. Goodbye.


Suzukki and Horgan leave.


Joe:                We should go.


Kenney:       We can’t


Joe:                Why?


Kenney:       We are waiting


Joe:                For who


Kenney:       Trudeau.


Joe:                Ah!


A boy approaches.


Boy:               Excuse me.


Both:             Yes?


Boy:               I have  a message. A message from Mr. Trudeau


Kenney:       Do I know you?


Boy:               I have a message from Mr. Trudeau. He won’t come this evening, but surely will tomorrow. He wishes you to wait.


Kenney:       Alright, you may go.


Boy:               What shall I tell Mr. Trudeau?


Joe:                Tell him we will be waiting.


Boy leaves


Kenney:       Will he come?


Joe:                We should part


Kenney:       Yes we should


No one leaves – curtain falls.


End of Act 1!


Act 2


Scene set – exactly the same place, just the next day. Kenney and Joe do pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME THING IN ACT 2 THAT THEY DID IN ACT 1.


So, fast forward to the end of Act 2. Suzuki and Horgan have made a brief reappearance. There has been much discussion of nonsense, religion, metaphysics, the price of coffee, transactions that take forever and the like. So let’s just skip to the closing scene.


Boy enters


Boy:               Mister, Mister umm Benney…


Kenney:       Boy, do you still not recognize me


Boy:               Sorry, sir


Joe:                You have a message from Mr. Trudeau


Boy:               Yes


Kenney:       He won’t come this evening.


Boy:               Yes sir


Joe:                But he will come tomorrow


Boy:               Yes sir


Kenney:       What does he do, Mr Trudeau


Boy:               Nothing sir


Joe:                Does he have a beard?


Boy:               No sir




Boy:               What am I to tell Mr Trudeau sir?


Kenney:       Tell him . . . (he hesitates) . . . tell him you saw me and that . . . (he hesitates) . . . that you saw me.


The Boy leaves


Joe:                So he isn’t coming


Kenney:       No


Joe:                And now it is too late for today


Kenney:       Perhaps he will come tomorrow


Joe:                Perhaps. We should go.


Kenney:       Yes, let’s go.


No one moves.




Well, there you have it. The classic existentialist play, reimagined for our current pipeline predicament.


The more I think of it, the more apt it seems. Sad that this is what we have come too. The absurdity of it all.


Well I guess it’s time for me to go as well.


(note – I’m still here)


Prices as at May 10 (May 3), 2019 

  • The price of oil was up early this week then fell on renewed trade war fears
    • Storage posted an decrease
    • Production was down
    • The rig count in the US was down, slightly
  • Injections to storage were above expectations for gas. The market was unmoved
  • WTI Crude: $61.69 ($61.85)
  • Western Canada Select: $49.03 ($49.86)
  • AECO Spot *: $2.29 ($1.68)
  • NYMEX Gas: $2.600 ($2.532)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7427 ($0.7431)


  • As at May 3, 2019, US crude oil supplies were at 466.6 million barrels, an decrease of 4.0 million barrels from the previous week and 32.8 million barrels above last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage is 28.5 compared to 26.0 last year at this time.
    • Production was down for the week at 12.200 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 10.703 million barrels per day.
    • Imports fell from 7.414 million barrels to 6.693 million barrels per day compared to 7.323 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US fell to 2.322 million barrels per day from 2.611 million barrels per day last week compared to 1.877 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.421 million barrels a day, down from 3.600
    • Refinery inputs fell during the during the week to 16.405 million barrels per day
  • As at May 3, 2019, US natural gas in storage was 1.547 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is about 16% lower than the 5-year average and about 9% higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 85 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption was down 3% during the report week
    • Production for the week was flat. Imports from Canada increased 6% from the week before. Exports to Mexico were flat
    • LNG exports totaled 24.5 Bcf
  • As of May 10, 2019, the Canadian rig count was up 2 at 63 (AB – 42; BC – 15; SK – 2; MB – 0; Other – 4). Rig count for the same period last year was 79.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at May 10, 2019 is at 805, down 2 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States was flat 183.
    • 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 unchanged at 20.
    • 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 68%/32%


Trump Watch: Trade War! Trade War! Subpoenas! Trade War!

Kenney Watch (new!): Blue Ribbon Panel. Moderate amounts of grief for Cabinet appointments. Massive grief for appointing a carbon tax supporter (burn him at the stake!) to his advisory circle. I have heard that Jason Kenney actually took his first vacation in 20 years from 1 PM to 2:45 PM on Wednesday the 8th. But I could just as easily be wrong.

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