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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Canadian oil could be headed south via railway tankers if pipeline rejected

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 23/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   More Canadian oil will flow through the United States regardless of whether the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline is ever built, says TransCanada’s CEO.
   Russ Girling’s comments followed the U.S. Senate defeating by one vote efforts to move ahead with the $8-billion project.
   The expansion of TransCanada’s U.S. pipeline network would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day to the Gulf Coast from the Alberta oil sands and the Bakken region in the U.S. northwest.
   Regardless of the fate of the XL pipeline, TransCanada continues “active negotiations” about shipping crude oil by rail, Girling said.
   Pipelines are the safest and most efficient mode of transport but rail transport is flexible and much quicker to implement without “the same regulatory hurdles as building pipe does,” he added.
   Regulatory and environmental concerns have delayed for six years the Keystone XL project that would cut across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.


   An insurance company is refusing to pay a Saskatchewan woman’s Hawaiian hospital bill of almost $1 million, saying that her pregnancy was a “pre-existing condition.”
   Jennifer Huculak, 30, of Humboldt went into premature labor while six months pregnant in Maui on a vacation with her husband Darren Kimmel.
   She was in a Honolulu hospital for six weeks and their daughter Reece for two months, running up a bill of $947,000.
   They had travel insurance from Blue Cross that rejected the claim, saying she is “excluded from coverage under the terms of her pre-existing condition provision” and the baby was not eligible.
   Hucalak, who said the family is considering filing for bankruptcy, said she wants other travelers to know they need to be careful when buying travel insurance.


    News in brief:
   - Walmart Canada has laid off 210 workers, mostly at its Toronto-area head office while the Royal Bank is restructuring and could cut 200 jobs. The Walmart layoffs were to create “a more efficient organizational structure.” The bank plans to end its international business in the Caribbean and other foreign private banking groups managed in Toronto, Montreal and the United States.
   - Canada’s annual inflation rate rose by 2.4 percent last month, spiked by higher food and shelter costs. Statistics Canada said the increase follows a 2.0-percent jump in September. Prices were higher in all provinces while Alberta rose the most at 3.0 percent followed by Ontario at 2.8 percent. British Columbia had the smallest gain at 1.1 percent.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 88.93 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1244 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,103 points and the TSX Venture index 791 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline is lower at $1.1407 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (Nov. 19) 5, 7, 20, 25, 36 and 46; bonus 24. (Nov. 15) 1, 3, 23, 35, 41 and 46; bonus 18. Lotto Max: (Nov. 14) 2, 5, 7, 13, 15, 30 and 38; bonus 27.


   Regional briefs:
   - It cost Ontario taxpayers $468 million for the Liberal government to reopen contracts for public school teachers last year, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk reported. It was a move by new Premier Kathleen Wynne to make peace with the teachers after bitter negotiations in which the government froze their pay and reduced banked sick days and pension benefits.
   - The Quebec government will be charging more for its public daycare program for children. Premier Philippe Couillard said payments will be based on family income. They will range from the current fee of $7.30 a day for family incomes of less than $50,000 a year to a maximum of $20 for $150,000 or more a year in income.
   - Manitoba plans to raise the speed limit to 110 kilometers an hour (68 mph) from 100 (62) on the Trans-Canada Highway from the Saskatchewan border to Winnipeg. In a speech opening the legislature, Premier Greg Selinger also said his government will end charging interest on university and college student loans and build a higher bridge at Morris to prevent flooding on the highway linking Winnipeg with the U.S.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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