Crude Observations

Happy Tariff Day, eh?

Alright, this week represents yet another opportunity to celebrate a birthday, although this time it is Canada’s birthday (really darling, you don’t look a day over 151). Accordingly, in true patriotic fashion and fully of the mind to exploit the tariff driven nationalist fervour (take that American yogurt!) that we seem to be experiencing, I am going to lazily reduce, reuse and recycle a number of columns written on previous Canada Days into one truly magnificent ode to our wonderful and quirky country.


Let me say upfront that I am hopeful that enough American readers are impressed by how awesome we are to call up President Trump and ask him to kindly remove all those nasty tariffs, if you please and sorry. Otherwise, on top of the tariffs we are implementing on Canada Day (take that bourbon!), we are fully prepared to slap a carbon tax on all those coal exports that HAVE TO go through Vancouver. And if that doesn’t work, then an export duty on electricity sales from Ontario to New York! And if that doesn’t work then maybe we’ll stop building you that free bridge in Detroit. Sorry again. But we’re really, really mad. Well mostly. Some of us kinda see the point but… stop it, eh? Sheesh. Sorry.


Really though, that’s probably about as tough as Canada can get in this particular fight. Take that American maple syrup! What? Arg. Grr.


Anyway, since the purpose here is to show Americans how nice and non-national security threatening we are, 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, who’s splitting hairs – it’s just the basis for national security tariffs, right?


ANYWAY, Canada right? Pretty dull, yet nonetheless a remarkable construct.


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.


At any rate, 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? We have a lot of American readers and I am sure they 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, 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.


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 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.


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!


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 tariffs? This too shall pass. We know what we have and we know what people want. It’ll all work out. Once the monumental impact of our crippling 10% tariffs on ketchup and mustard start working – take that condiment freaks!


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 29, 2018 (Jun 22, 2018)

  • The price of oil rallied massively during the week on a small OPEC supply increase and a big drop in inventories
    • Storage posted a big decrease
    • Production was flat
    • The rig count in the US was down
  • After a larger than expected injection, natural gas gave up some ground then rallied thru the end of the week…


  • WTI Crude: $74.15 ($65.58)
  • Nymex Gas: $2.925 ($2.954)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.76130 ($ 0.7542)



  • As at June 22, 2018, US crude oil supplies were at 416.6 million barrels, a decrease of 9.9 million barrels from the previous week and 92.6 million barrels below last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage was 23.7 behind last year’s 29.7.
    • Production stayed the same for the week at 10.900 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 9.250 million barrels per day. The constant production this week came from a decrease in Alaskan production and an increase in Lower 48.
    • Imports rose from 8.242 million barrels a day to 8.356 compared to 8.016 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US rose to 3.000 million barrels a day from 2.374 last week and 0.528 a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.247 million barrels a day, up from 3.571
    • Refinery inputs were up during the week at 17.8 million barrels a day
  • As at June 22, 2018, US natural gas in storage was 2.0074 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is 20% lower than the 5-year average and about 26% less than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 66 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption was up 1% during the report week
    • Production for the week was up 1%. Imports from Canada were down 3% compared to the week before. Exports to Mexico were down 2% compared to the week before.
    • LNG exports totalled 21.8 Bcf.
  • Slowly but surely… As of June 29 the Canadian rig count was 172. Rig count for the same period last year was actually higher.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at June 29, 2018 was at 858, down 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 1 at 187.
    • 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 1 at 19
    • Offshore rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55
  • US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 80%/20%, in Canada the split is 62%/38%


  • In an early birthday ift to Canada. the Minnesota Utilities Commission surprised most observers by voting 5-0 that the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement was needed and furthered this positive news by also voting 3-2 in favour of Enbridge’s preferred route.
  • Stephen Harper resurfaced from the bat cave and is planning on visiting the White House on July 2. Problem is, he didn’t tell Trudeau et al so some noises are out of joint
  • OPEC agreed to increase output by 1,000,000 barrels per day. Basically Saudi Arabia, but who’s paying attention to that!
  • If you’re at all paying attention, LNG is coming
  • Tariffs, retaliatory tariffs
  • Trump Watch: New justice! Travel Ban! Child separation on the back burner! Red Hen – so last week.
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