Letter in Cochrane Eagle by rancher Nielle Hawkwood: People are ignoring reality

People are ignoring reality by Nielle Hawkwood, March 21, 2019, Cochrane Eagle

Having read recent letters in the Cochrane Eagle, I feel that I must respond to the continuous messages from the corporate whine cellar. Writers seem to be entirely unaware of events in the world around them. A few updates are required:

  1. Climate change is real and it is here. There is no remaining excuse for inaction. The cost of changing our ways of supplying energy pale in comparison to the cost of dealing with the effects of climate change.
  2. The boom times in the oil and gas industry are not returning. Companies are unemploying people and employing technology for the sake of increased efficiency.
  3. Government is not to blame for the fact that investors are leaving the oil patch. They see the writing on the wall and are investing in renewable energy.
  4. The Alberta Government has done everything the oil patch has asked for: a one-stop shop for approvals, continued subsidies in the form of embarrassingly low royalties and taxes on industry, and the purchase of old pipelines no one else wants along with rail cars which will increase the glut of traffic on our rail lines and further impede the movement of agricultural products.
  5. The lifeblood of our province is not the oil and gas industry. This industry is leaving hundreds of billions of dollars in liabilities for us to try to pay, including rising costs of health care for those affected by the toxins spread into our environment through industry activities. The lifeblood of our province is and always will be the agriculture industry, which is being seriously affected by the use of fracking in our most productive agricultural areas. The devastation left behind by this activity has led to its banning in a growing number of countries, states and provinces worldwide. The governor of New York State referred to its “extreme risks to public health at all stages of operations” and the Government of Victoria in Australia referred to its reasons for a ban as: “Protection of public health and the reputation of the agriculture industry.” Growing concern over the earthquakes triggered by fracking is just the tip of the iceberg.
  6. Socialism is not the great evil that it is portrayed to be. The most successful nations in the world in terms of human health and happiness as well as wealth are the socialist Scandinavian countries. In contrast, the U.S. has unsolved problems related to its determined capitalism: widespread violence, social unrest and pollution.

We need to join with the young people who see their future as dark, and demand the change we all must embrace to ensure that they have a future in our province and our world.

Nielle Hawkwood

Refer also to:

Canada Pension Plan intentionally making $Billion Bad investments in fracking?

Meet Alberta’s Radioactive Ranchers: Nielle and Howard Hawkwood. Timing is everything. Why did AIMCo (ATB/Heritage Fund connected) announce $200 Million (bailout?) investment in “Quite leveraged” Calfrac on same day NDP Rural Caucus try to get Nielle Hawkwood’s frac ban resolution on floor of NDP’s Annual Convention?

Big oil, big fracing, big problems? The Hawkwoods frac’d in the Lochend: health problems, dead cattle and earthquakes causing property damage

Will Encana Spawn’s Greed Kill Your Frac Job? Cutting Workers to Fatten Investors, Making Workers Wonder over the Holidays. Nasty, in True Encana/Cenovus Form

Encana bets against frac jobs

Jobs Jobs Jobs & Frac Prosperity for All? Buyer to close Sanjel’s Calgary headquarters due to ‘miserable’ demand for its services

Trican, 10th Largest US Frac Fleet Sold For 38 Cents On The Dollar

Trican lays off 137 workers in Odessa, how many in Alberta?

Frac’ing creates job jobs jobs? Frac Quake Shaker Repsol laying off 30 per cent of Canadian staff

Layoffs begin at Encana

Halliburton Cuts 8% of North American Jobs in Frack Slowdown

Halliburton Cuts Fracking Jobs, Gear in US, Canada

Stunning Fact: NY Creates 4 Times As Many Jobs As PA Without 1 Shale Well

 to onemansopinion

“I’m sticking with the current model and will argue to regulate the hell out of industry.”

Industry is admittedly “de-manning” the “current model,” so you can kiss the jobs goodbye.

“Representatives of Canada’s oil and gas industry like to talk about jobs and all the people they employ. In particular, Tim McMillan, who represents all the oil and gas industry as CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, seems to talk about jobs at every opportunity. Jobs his industry has created. Jobs supposedly at risk from government policy.

And yet oil companies are working hard to eliminate work done by actual people.

There’s even a term for it, popularized by Cenovus Energy executive-VP Kiron McFadyen : ‘de-man’ the sector to achieve ‘zero manning.’In other words, Cenovus and other companies want to get rid of as many employees as possible in order to maximize profits.”



… In March, meanwhile, Digital Oil & Gas cast automation as one of several lifeboats that could extend the operating life of the tar sands/oil sands.

‘Despite the relatively few jobs in oil and gas, the industry is still designed around people, and the presence of people in a dangerous industry drives a high overhead cost in safety, training, equipment configuration, and housing, and the work force commands high salaries as a result,’ the industry blog stated. With time, equipment, plant, and vehicles all on the way to being automated, ‘anything with a chair in it today (and anyone whose job is to sit in that chair) is on a sunset path.’ The blog adds that ‘taking people out of the office is another de-manning goal,’ courtesy of robotic process automation technology that mimics human keystrokes.” https://theenergymix.com/2017/06/27/execs-look-to-de-manning-to-take-work-force-out-of-the-tar-sandsoil-sands/


… ‘We’re seeing changes around, is there a better way of doing this? Is there a better way of organizing how we get work done?’ said Lance Mortlock, EY’s Canadian oil and gas strategy services leader. With options like robotics and process automation on the table, he added, fossil executives are looking at ‘different ways that you can do work—better, faster, cheaper—with fewer people involved.’” https://theenergymix.com/2017/02/24/fossils-move-toward-jobless-recovery-as-oil-prices-inch-higher/

“Precision coming closer to de-manning directional drilling

Directional drilling technology is one of the foundations of North America’s current oil and gas abundance, enabling both hydraulic fracturing for conventional wells and in situ reservoir drainage in the oilsands.

… By next year Precision Drilling expects to have achieved a major change in the way that directional wells are drilled, enabling de-manning of the process using intelligent algorithms and digital infrastructure.

The company’s directional guidance system (DGS) creates a coordinated workflow between the rig driller and a remote directional driller, the company said in a presentation given at its annual investor day in Houston this week. And that can be taken even further, the company says, extracting the directional driller from the process.”


“Fracking Robots in the Works as Halliburton Digitizes Oil Field

Rack up one more thing robots can be used for: Fracking for oil.

Bots already are used to vacuum floors, build cars and do heart surgery. Now, Halliburton Co. wants to add fracking to the to-do list.”


“Tens of thousands of oil and gas workers laid off during the downturn have been waiting for the patch to get back on its feet, but many of the jobs could be gone for good.

… Take shale drilling, where just a few years ago you could find 30 rig hands operating diesel pumps, using headsets to synchronize the throttle and pressure needed to break apart the rock formations and free the trapped crude.

Today, that job can be done by two people sitting inside a control van, monitoring the automated, electrified systems, said Mark Salkeld, head of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

… Looking ahead, Salkeld said he sees a continued push towards robotics with a crew of two or less, both for costs and increased safety.

He said that future is already arriving, having recently seen a new type of automated rig online.

‘It was a video of this massive, automotive assembly-line type, Star Wars-type robot, that was picking up the pipe, drilling it, and there wasn’t a person in sight.’”


“Oil’s New Technology Spells End of Boom for Roughnecks – One of the last industries where blue-collar laborers can earn high salaries is being transformed as artificial intelligence and automation replace workers

… U.S. production has topped record levels, hitting 10.9 million barrels a day in the last week of June, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, compared with its high of 9.6 million in 2015. But as of May, nationwide oil and gas employment is down 21% since 2014, according to state and federal data compiled by Karr Ingham, an economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, an industry group.”


“Union outcry as automation eats up 400 oilsands jobs – and it’s just the beginning”


In 2016 the Houston Chronicle was already documenting signs of automation’s impending effect.

‘These new rigs, using sophisticated software and robotics, could reduce the number of people working in the oil patch by up to 40 percent over the next few years.’

Scott Santens, writing in the online publication Medium, spells out these trends in a 2017 article titled, ‘The Real Story of Automation Beginning with One Simple Chart.’

The one simple chart, which can be seen here, shows that while the oil industry has experienced a recent boom in the number of drilling rigs, the number of employees has remained flat. Santens goes on to predict that ‘of the 440,000 jobs lost in the global downturn, as many as 220,000 of those jobs may never come back.’ The industry is getting closer to 24/7 unmanned every day.

However, while good for profits, this is bad for workers and thus is a problem for the industry’s public relations efforts. [Enter Kenney’s (aka CAPP’s) war room] The oil and gas industry historically has pushed new fossil fuel developments as a source of high-paying, blue collar jobs.

Now, many of those jobs are disappearing, and in an era when President Trump’s energy plan is proclaiming how many jobs the shale industry will bring, declining workforce numbers are not a point the industry is seeking to publicize.

James West, an energy analyst for investment bank Evercore ISI, explained to Bloomberg how the industry was likely to spin the impending reductions in the oil and gas industry workforce.

‘They’ll more likely brag about the automation rather than these head counts,’ said West.

… Another panelist, Robert Clarke, research director for energy analysts Wood Mackenzie, recounted conversations he had with industry executives about future production and the workforce:

‘I sit with a lot of executive teams and I simply ask them, “You’re talking about doubling production, does that mean doubling headcount?” They politely respond, “No, that means halving headcount.”‘

The fracking industry, despite its growth and promise, has not reached profitability and to do so these companies are going to have to start removing what Ingram described, in response to a question about automation replacing labor, as ‘structural inefficiencies.’

‘There are large structural inefficiencies to be extracted from this industry that will drive a nice cost advantage situation … ‘ Ingram said. ‘Looking forward to it.’ [Canadians concerned about pollution or greedy, mostly foreign investors, killing jobs?]

High-paid industry executives and Wall Street analysts are ‘looking forward to’ improving the economics of fracking, but in a move that will cost many blue collar workers their jobs.

The oil and gas industry appears primed to follow in the footsteps of the coal industry, where automation has been eating away jobs for decades. While the executives at the top of these firms will continue to prosper, many of the workers — or ‘structural inefficiencies’ — are quickly becoming the latest casualties to advancing technology.”


April 4, 2019 USA – “Layoffs hit highest level for a first quarter since 2009: report

… ‘Companies appear to be streamlining and updating their processes, and workforce reductions are increasingly becoming a part of these decisions. Consumer behavior and advances in technology are driving many of these cuts,’ Andrew Challenger, vice president of the outplacement firm, said in a statement.

‘Another major driver of the uptick in job cuts is economic uncertainty and fears of an upcoming downturn. Companies are reacting to market conditions as much as consumer demand,’ he added.

Auto manufacturers led the layoffs with 15,887 jobs cut. Energy companies followed, with 10,548.

‘Both Auto and Energy companies are pivoting in response to advances in technology and consumer demand for more efficiency. Companies in these sectors are attempting to attract talent who can compete with tech companies, like Apple and Tesla, which are beginning to compete in this space,’ said Challenger.”


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