GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA EASES PRODUCTION CAPS
Tucked away in Coronation Park, near TELUS World of Science, the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium sat neglected for decades. Resembling a flying saucer (on purpose), the structure was designed by Canadian architectural icon Douglas Cardinal. It was built to commemorate the 1959 visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The first city planetarium in the country, the structure was well used, drawing 33,500 visitors a year at the peak of its popularity in 1967. But by the time the nearby science centre opened in 1983, planetariums were losing their lustre. The flying saucer in the park was shuttered, becoming little more than a curiosity. In 2017, Edmonton declared the planetarium a municipal heritage resource. Its capital budget by then had $7 million earmarked to restore the structure to its former glory. The project was entrusted to Architecture | Tkalcic Bengert, an Edmonton architectural firm acquired by APEGA permit holder Stantec in 2016. Since then, both the exterior and interior of the building have been refurbished. The hope is that visitors have a similar experience to what they would have had 59 years ago— while appreciating modern-day accessibility and energy- efficiency. The project began with the repair of the building’s crumbling dome, a massive undertaking that involved installing eight concrete sections—each weighing 5,500 lb.—onto the rooftop with a crane. Crews also salvaged original tiles, which were hand-cleaned and reinstalled on the exterior of the building. Inside, new drywall was hung and walls painted, and a new projector was installed in the planetarium theatre. A grand opening will take place sometime in 2020. Once complete, the property will provide additional educational, reception, and production space for its fancy neighbour, TELUS World of Science Edmonton (TWOSE). TWOSE is undergoing a makeover of its own. Infrastructure Canada just promised $8.65 million in new funding to support the fourth phase of a $40-million renovation dubbed the Aurora Project. Aurora is underway now, and phase four will include renovations of the Health Gallery and Science Garage, as well as the construction of a 929-square-metre interior space with a new lobby and Arctic Gallery. PLANETARIUM MAGIC RETURNS TO EDMONTON
The UCP is also easing curtailment caps for oil well operators, allowing producers to drill new conventional oil wells without concern for production limits. Existing wells, though, will remain bound by the caps. The timing of the cap lift is great. Wells drilled over winter will come online in late 2020 or early 2021, around the time Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement pipeline should be fully operational. Line 3 runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin. The Canadian arm of the replacement for the 1960s-era pipeline is ready to go, but the U.S. portion still faces regulatory hurdles. Completion promises some relief to oil and gas, the after a years of insufficient pipeline capacity in Alberta.
The Government of Alberta is allowing producers to exceed their production caps if they use train cars instead of the province’s at-capacity pipelines. The energy minister says the province had been inundated with requests for this option and, immediately after the announcement, many of them began rounding up rail cars. Suncor, for instance, has contracted rail cars to ship an additional 30,000 barrels a day, and other companies are expected to follow suit. In addition to helping move Alberta oil to market, the program will also help the UCP government divest itself of the oil-by-rail contracts acquired by the previous NDP government. (All this happened before a strike by CN Rail workers, which stalled many oil and gas shipments. A tentative agreement had been reached between CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, before The PEG was posted.) SUNCOR EXPANDS CLOUD PRESENCE WITH MICROSOFT PARTNERSHIP APEGA permit holder Suncor is partnering with Microsoft on projects that combine cloud computing, big data, and machine learning. The work is aimed at improving different aspects of the company’s business operations, such as employee procedures at the company’s Calgary headquarters, data collection at its oilsands projects, and operations at its network of Petro- Canada stations. The partnership is one of the ways Suncor hopes will get it to its goal of a $2-billion flow increase in incremental free funds by 2023. The company is also investing $1.4 billion in its Oil Sands Base Plant near Fort McMurray—Suncor’s largest oil sands project in northern Alberta—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent. The company is installing two cogeneration units fuelled by natural gas. They’ll replace three boilers fired by petroleum coke. The new units will produce steam for bitumen extraction and upgrading, along with electricity— including 800 megawatts that will be returned to the grid. The plant already contributes 450 megawatts.
WELCOME, EARTHLINGS From the outside at night, you’d be excused to believe the aliens had arrived (photo top). Inside, though, Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium was a friendly and informative place (photo bottom), with actual humans. - photos courtesy City of Edmonton
CLEANER COGEN COMING Construction has begun on two, natural-gas-fired cogeneration units at Suncor’s Oils Sands Base Plant.
36 | PEG WINTER 2019
WINTER 2019 PEG | 37
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