Archive for March 2011

It’s Opening Day!   Leave a comment

Again, as the title suggests…

Today is the first day of the 2011 major league baseball season.

That is all.  We’ll return to your regularly-scheduled blogging tomorrow.

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Posted March 31, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

A follow-up on Monday’s oilpatch labor crunch article   Leave a comment

For those of you hanging on my every original word… sorry.  This is going to be a quick cut-and-paste job, courtesy of the Calgary Herald.  The reason – I have to prepare for a birthday party this evening, as my lovely and talented daughter turns six today.

As the title indicates, this IS a follow-up on the oilpatch article I brought to your attention Monday.  As the article states, there is a huge concern that those people winding down their career in the oil and gas industry need to be replaced, and not just by the average Joe.  People must be trained and motivated and eager to learn.  And as it relates to what I’m currently presenting to prospective land investors, well, Red Deer is a major hub in the industry.  People want work, people move to where the work is.

Copied for your consideration, the bolding is mine.

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Severe labour crunch forecast for oilpatch as workers retire

By Dina O’Meara, Calgary Herald    March 30, 2011 11:12 AM

CALGARY — Alberta could see jobs in the oilpatch double over the next decade if commodity prices stay the strong course, leading to a labour crunch rivalling that of the last boom cycle, according to an industry council.

The shortage in skilled workers already is being felt and will continue to happen across the Canadian oilpatch regardless of commodity prices and activity levels in the oil and gas industry, a report released Tuesday by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada warned.

“We are headed toward a severe labour shortage, regardless of future energy prices and industry activity,” said chief executive Cheryl Knight.

“Our industries will need to be prepared to face a labour shortage more severe than what we experienced in 2007.”

In Alberta, which accounts for at least three-quarters of Canada’s oilpatch jobs, about 102,300 positions would open in a high-price scenario, up from 57,850 positions in 2009.

The report, The Decade Ahead 2010-2020, forecasts a labour force three times the size of Airdrie, or approximately 130,000 workers, will be needed to fill new jobs and keep pace with retirements.

A major driver in the forecast worker shortage is Canada’s aging workforce which will see about 30 per cent of the current workforce retire over the next decade.

“Even in the worse scenario when energy prices and industry activity are low, we will need to hire at least 39,000 workers to replace those who are retiring,” Knight said. “If industry expands in a high price scenario, we will need to find 130,000 workers to fill new positions.”

The oilpatch already is seeing shortages in skill sets such as geology, engineering and geophysical expertise, as well as on-the-ground field workers.

The service sector — drilling, services, geophysical contracting — is the industry’s highest employer, employing 83,000 workers including 9,000 drilling rig workers, and will be hardest hit by the labour crunch, an industry spokesman added.

Many oilfield workers fled the industry when commodity prices crashed three years ago, and are hard to bring back to the industry fold, said Brian Jones, chief executive of Stoneham Drilling.

“Because of our critical role, labour shortages affecting us will ripple through the rest of the industry,” Jones said. “Access to labour and skills determine the unit of production of the petroleum industry. “

The services sector may need to hire as many as 72,000 workers over the next 10 years,”he said. Jones noted it takes the average rig worker about 10 years to accumulate enough skills and experience to become a rig manager.

The council sees demand for workers skilled in new technologies associated with unconventional oil and gas exploration and production, as well as increased call for employed such as water and environmental management technicians, steam engineers and fracking operators, Knight said.

“Attracting workers with the right skills is “essential to sustain growth in the industry,” said Jennifer Koury, vice-president corporate services with drilling concern EnerPlus.

“Everyone remembers that in 2007 severe labour shortages put serious limits on our industry and it cost us in the industry dearly,” she said. “The (report) has show us that the industry will soon be entering another severe labour shortage and we need to be prepared.

A shrinking labour market will drive up costs and make the industry less competitive, added Gary Leach, executive director of the Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada.

“If you don’t have a trained workers in key choke points, and we’re already seeing that, it’s going to affect the development of all sorts of big projects,” Leach said.

“Vacancies in those kind of key skill sets are already causing problems with companies to advance their projects. And if they can’t move those projects ahead, it’s going to cost our economy.”

One of the challenges in attracting people within Canada to the oilpatch is it is seen as a sunset industry which will be replaced by other forms of energy some day, and “that is not the case, certainly not in this century,” Leach said.

“Young Canadians need to know it is a sunrise industry in terms of good-paying jobs in great, lifetime careers.”

Posted March 30, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

You want some buffalo wings? Sorry, I don’t eat buffalo.   1 comment

I love chicken wings.

It’s true.  Every week, when the M&M Meats e-flier shows up in my inbox, I check every page to see if the wings are on sale.  I usually go out with one of my neighbors at least once a month to a local establishment for the wings.  Spicy, hot, barbecue, it’s all good.  I love wings.

Several years ago, me and a couple of friends took our collective love of chicken wings to another level.  We’d go to Harry’s Pub – sorry, it’s not there anymore – and order the hot, or the barbecue, or the salt and pepper wings, and down them by the dozen.  Then we stumbled upon a wonderful, magical idea: we asked the chef to mix the sauces for us, and like a true pro, he did.  Now we enjoyed hot barbecue wings, or hot honey garlic… we were trailblazers, darn it, ordering items that did not appear on a mere menu.  It might have been the best place that we ever visited on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I moved about as far away from Harry’s while staying within the city limits as possible, and I just couldn’t justify the round-trip.

My friends and I were also semi-competitive wing eaters.  I haven’t been to Hooters in a long, long time – really, I haven’t – but I think my picture is still in there.  When they held their grand opening, we represented the Calgary Cannons in a wing-eating contest against other teams of four.  I think there were actual players from the Flames there, and I also remember thinking that there was no way we could topple the behemoths from the Stampeders, but in the end, we stood triumphant.  Writing about it now makes me want to see if our photo is still displayed on the way in.

There was also the time we entered a wing-eating contest at Red Devil – also, long since closed – along with seven other teams.  I remember that number well, because the next week we competed, there were only four teams left… and the next week, two of those teams dropped out, too.  They were pretty good wings, too.  The challenge, however, was this: the wings got progressively hotter each week, making eating them faster than your opponents a painful (but delicious experience).  I still recall that the first batch of wings were spicy, the second batch was less so… so then they overcompensated the next two weeks.  The last week of competition was brutal.  Sheer agony.  No one wanted to be the first one to throw in the napkin, but we were all looking at each other hoping that someone else would.  We just couldn’t finish the platter… and I ate a litre of ice cream to cool myself down.

I recently found a website that I honestly thought about starting myself years ago, but never did.  (I’m quite sure many, many others did too.)  Back then, my friends always wanted to know where the deals were, and what flavors they served… stuff like that.  At www.hotwings.ca, they’ve undertaken this monumental task, and I plan on consulting this site frequently.  Anything that helps me get my poultry fix is alright by me.

Hotwings

P.S.  If they want me to take this picture down, I will.  Just let me know.

Posted March 29, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

If Mars needs moms, then Alberta needs moms, dads, and everybody else   Leave a comment

We still have a ton of ice out front.  And I say that literally.  We’ve called the city twice to get it broken up so that it drains away from our house; also, so that we can actually pull in and out of the driveway without sinking the car into Lake MacAskill.  This hasn’t been one of my favorite winters.  The snow started in November, and it never went away. It’s March 28th, and it’s still falling.

I spotted this in the Calgary Herald (link here), and it’s one of the best ones I’ve read lately.  I am always looking for news – fact, not opinion – that help me determine if my investment in Red Deer property is fundamentally sound.  I want to know if the raw land I’ve invested in shows promise in terms of medium-range development and subsequent profit on exit; I also want to provide information on this project to anyone that might be interested in adding land to their investment portfolio as well.  Write to me or call me if you want information on ANY Belterra project, please, and I’ll be happy to get it to you.  I’ll lay out a few basic points below that you might find relevant to the article, then read the Herald article (all bolding mine) and form your own opinion on the material presented therein.  Happy Monday!

  • Red Deer is currently the third largest city in Alberta.
  • It is a major oil and gas servicing city, located between Calgary and Edmonton.
  • The local government annexed 3,000 hectares of land from the surrounding county in October 2009.
  • The city has a planning initiative in place, anticipating a population of 300,000 in the next 40 to 70 years.

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Labour shortage in oilpatch current reality

Competition for workers between conventional and oilsands operations expected to heat up 

By Dina O’Meara, Calgary Herald March 25, 2011

CALGARY –  Labour shortages aren’t looming in the Alberta oilpatch, they are already here, said the head of the Petroleum Human Resources Council.

As oil and natural gas liquids activity ramps up on the back of strong prices, conventional operations are having to compete not only with like-industries such as construction, but with unconventional projects — the oilsands.

Our shortage, just based on activity alone, is now, in 2011,” said Cheryl Knight Thursday at an Economic Society of Canada presentation.

In 2009 the oil and gas industry directly employed 172,000 people in operations, most in out in the field in the services sector, Knight said, at the Chamber of Commerce. Drilling and servicing rigs, or exploration and production, drew the next largest segment of workers, with the oilsands trailing third.

But in terms of sheer magnitude, the key growth sector industry is in the oilsands, she said.

Job opportunities in the oilsands are expected to double by 2020, growing more than 24,000 positions from 12,000 to 13,000.

“As oilsands companies increasingly contract to the service sector for their maintenance contracting we see increased stress on the services sector,” she said to the audience. “There are going to be challenges for oil and gas producers, both on the conventional and the oilsands sides to access the service sector workers that they need.”

Skilled workers fled the oil and gas industry when commodity prices crashed in 2008, heading toward industries and more stable jobs. Attracting them back and keeping them is a challenge most companies have been struggling and planning for.

Activity in Alberta’s oilsands has surged on the back of strong oil prices, with almost $170 billion worth of projects currently underway or proposed in the region.

Topping the council’s list of occupations in the oilpatch was heavy equipment operator, followed by steam and non-steam operators, supervisors for oil and gas drilling, rig crews, millwrights and machinists.

Already this year Cenovus Energy Inc. plans to boost its staff by 400 employees, bringing its payroll up to 4,000.

Half of the new hires will work downtown, the other half in the field, primarily the company’s oilsands projects Foster Creek and Christina Lake, said spokeswoman Rhona DelFrari.

While the energy company has been successful in filling vacancies, Cenovus is well aware competition for qualified workers already is hot, she said.

“We have to be competitive to attract people in the field,” she said. “And one way we do are competitive is with our camps.”

Workers in the know find out which camps, where companies provide temporary accommodation, offer what perks and often chose the job based on them. At Cenovus’ Christina Lake camp, employees can take advantage of state-of-art gyms, cinema rooms, a music space with instruments supplied for impromptu jams, and their own dedicated rooms.

“The oilsands win at the end of the day because they have so much more to offer,” said Mark Salkeld, president of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

The service sector expects to add 19,000 jobs over the next eight years, and Salkeld anticipates conventional oil and gas drilling operations will have to wrestle with oilsands projects for people.

“Within our own province we are going to have that struggle in the industry for conventional requirements versus oilsands,” he said. “Where the oilsands advantage lies is that it’s a year-round operation, allowing nice, consistent shift work at decent pay.”

In contrast, work on conventional oil and gas rigs is seasonal — with the busy season being winter — and generally in remote areas with few amenities.

The industry as a whole will need another 40,000 people in the next decade, Salkeld said.

The oilsands is in a better position than the conventional side of the oilpatch because the work isn’t necessarily industry-specific, industry insider said.

Posted March 28, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

Here are even MORE people I know!   Leave a comment

In the past, I’ve mentioned that I belong to a group called BNI (Business Network International).  My particular Calgary-based chapter, BNI Optimum, consists of various businesspeople and entrepreneurs that each represent a different industry.  For example, there is only one realtor.  One chef.  One dentist… and so on and so forth.  We do not allow two “similar” people into the group because we want to maximize the number of good referrals for each member – or to put it another way, we don’t want to split referrals between two equally deserving individuals.

I’ve used this space to mention the various industries our membership group represents.  I’ve even made mention of it in my newsletter, around my cul-de-sac, and probably even the odd e-mail or two.  And I’m devoted to helping my friends at Optimum by giving them good, solid referrals (and hoping that they do the same for me).  However, it occurred to me that I know other people from other walks of life, too.  Maybe if I’m able to give them a hand, the karma will come around to me at some point in time.  I’d like that.  Good karma is good.

And bad karma is BAD.

For example, one of my closest friends is a one-man store; he sells a variety of nutritional, household, and body and bath products online.  AND he’s also a yoga instructor.

I know several people in the shipping, logistics, and courier industry.  They can do local, same-day shipping, and they can do national and international shipping with various major carriers.

Another friend of mine is a sales rep for one of western Canada’s largest natural foods companies.

My brother-in-law sells fractional aircraft ownership.

A few years ago, one of my friends brought a business franchise to Calgary that provides personal home-based health care to seniors.

I know doctors and dentists and lawyers (that last category simply being a by-product of a prior business relationship – it’s not as if I constantly need a team of lawyers or anything, really, I don’t…); I know cupcake makers and pub managers and theatre marketing experts.  I’m not bragging – we ALL know lots of people, I bet.  We refer family and friends to other people we know and trust all the time.  If you think there is someone I should meet, or talk to, by all means, tell me.  And if you’re wondering if I know anybody that help you, simply ASK me.  The worst thing that could possibly happen is that I don’t have an immediate answer for you.

But you never know – maybe I might.

Crowd-of-people-2

Posted March 23, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

Alberta’s full of untapped energy – all KINDS of energy!   Leave a comment

Hello all.  It was a long and relatively unproductive day yesterday, but things are much better now.  As I scoured the media today for interesting news – unrelated to movie trailers or the fact that major league baseball starts for real next week – I came across two interesting articles.  One is quite similar to one I mentioned earlier this month, pertaining to the increased drilling activity in Alberta.  I will include the link here, and copy the text below. To summarize even before you read, the province’s most important industry – arguably, I suppose – is picking up its pace.

Sunny 2011 outlook for Alberta drilling

Province off to strong start with 400 active rigs

By Journal Staff, edmontonjournal.com March 21, 2011

EDMONTON — Drilling activity has had its strongest start this year since 2007, according to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC).

Through the first twelve weeks of 2011, there is projected to be an average of 400 active drilling rigs in Alberta, up from approximately 300 last year and only 220 in 2009. During the week of March 15, there were 395 drilling rigs active out of a total rig count of 576.

Earlier this month, CAODC noted that the number of active rigs in Western Canada jumped to 74 per cent of an available fleet of 787 rigs, rising from 66 per cent in January. The association had predicted a 60-per-cent rig utilization rate for the first three months of the year.

By comparison, in 2010 the average utilization rate during the first quarter was 54 per cent off a fleet of about 805 rigs.

The first quarter of the year is the most important and busiest time for conventional oil and gas exploration in Alberta, when frozen ground makes it possible to move large drilling rigs.

“During the middle of the last decade, natural gas was responsible for most of the conventional energy activity in Alberta. However, due to pricing, oil is responsible for the current surge,” said ATB Financial economist Dan Sumner in a commentary Monday.

From 2003-2006, less than a quarter of the wells drilled in Alberta were oil wells, but in 2010 the proportion rose to 48 per cent. In 2011 there is a good chance oil wells will account for over half the wells drilled.

“Considering oil prices remain strong, land sales have been high, and financing conditions are favourable, drilling activity should be fairly robust in 2011,” Sumner added.

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Now, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, living in Alberta… but it can get pretty windy sometimes.  This is prairie country.  There isn’t a whole lot of natural, geographic scenery to impede hurricane-like gusts, so when the wind decides to blow, it can howl.  Thus, you would think someone would find a way to monetize this phenomena, if for no other reason then to offer an alternative to fossil fuel consumption.  The next article discusses such a proposal, and I hope it is able to find its way off the drawing board.

Country’s biggest wind farm planned for Alberta

By MARKUS ERMISCH, Calgary Sun   March 10, 2011 1:35pm

Southern Alberta could become home to the country’s largest wind energy project provided the company behind the ambitious plan finds the necessary cash.

Calgary-based Greengate Power Corp just got the regulatory nod to build a wind farm capable of generating 300 megawatts of power in Vulcan County, roughly 165 kilometres southeast of Calgary. Once built, 166 turbines will dot 200 square kilometres of farming and grazing land and feed green power into the provincial grid by 2013.

That’s the plan.

What’s still missing, however, now that the final regulatory hurdle has been cleared and farmers are satisfied with the lease and royalty terms, is a final tally of how much it will all cost, and where the money will come from.

“We’re still in the process of finalizing our project budget,” said CEO Dan Balaban, noting the company is finalizing the finance arrangements, which may include asking the government for money.

“It’s possible,” he said. “But currently there is little to no funding available at all for renewable energy projects in Canada.”

Two other projects the company is working on are advancing without “any direct government funding,” Balaban said.

Wind power is the fastest growing source of power in the world. Three-bladed wind turbines are becoming an increasingly common site on hilltops, plains or anchored in bodies of water. And growing fossil fuel prices and higher environmental costs for conventional power generation are making renewables increasingly cheaper, in relative terms.

Windy Alberta could benefit from that and become one of North America’s top renewables producers — if only the government were to adopt the right policies, Balaban said.

“If we had a policy in this province, like a renewables portfolio standard that specifically encourages the development of renewable energy, I think we would see an explosion of growth in our industry in this province,” B
alaban said. “Alberta could quickly become North America’s leader in renewable energy.”

A renewables portfolio standard is a government regulation requiring that a certain percentage of the power consumed must come from renewables. In California, for example, 20% of the consumed power must come from renewables.

“It’s a policy that would make a lot of sense in Alberta,” Balaban said.

 

Posted March 22, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

So… what comic book movie interests YOU most this summer?   1 comment

I’m coasting into the weekend, gang.  It’s a sunny, cool Friday afternoon, and I’m thinking about the various comic book movies I want to see this summer.  While I don’t read them like I used to, I DO know pretty much all the origin stories… so if the studios get them wrong, or change them too much, I get grumpy.  Based on these four trailers, what do YOU want to see most?

Thor – May 6:

 

X-Men: First Class – June 3:

 

Green Lantern – June 17:

 

Captain America: The First Avenger – July 22 (TV commercial only):

Posted March 18, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

Alberta economy set to grow in 2012, too!   Leave a comment

Ah, back to the website.  I sent out the first edition of MacAskill’s Monthly Mailer yesterday, and if you want a copy of this soon-to-be-historical electronic document, let me know.  I will e-mail it to you free of charge.

I had a BBI (Business Building Interview) with Colette today, one of the many members of the BNI Optimum chapter.  She IS the most pregnant member, though, and because she is soon to be a mommy, she is looking for just the right person to sell her Original Basket Boutique franchise to.  If you’re that person, or know somebody interested in becoming their own boss, I will introduce you to her.

Now I’m off to another meeting of sorts, the monthly get-together of the Calgary Business Professionals Group.  Looks like plenty of people will be there, and aside from the fact that I’m going against traffic to get there (eventually – I’m not typing this while I drive), it’ll be a good event.  If it can top the last event, where refreshments were served at dental stations, then I’d be doubly impressed.

So because I’m leaving shortly, I’ll quickly cut-and-paste an article from today’s Calgary Herald for you.  More promising news about the Albertan economy, and during a time when Belterra will be that much further along in its pre-development work for its various Albertan projects.  I will be back again before the end of the week.

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Alberta economic growth to lead country in 2012

 GDP to grow 3.2% next year

 

By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald March 16, 2011

CALGARY – Alberta’s economic growth will lead the nation in 2012, says a new report released Wednesday by TD Economics.

The report forecasts GDP growth of 3.2 per cent for the province in 2012 with the national average at 2.5 per cent.

For this year, TD Economics predicts Alberta’s economic growth to be 4.2 per cent, behind Newfoundland and Labrador at 4.7 per cent and Saskatchewan at 4.3 per cent.

At the national level, economic growth for Canada this year is expected to be 3.0 per cent.

Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial in Calgary, said the TD forecast is in the same range with what many other economists have been saying recently.

“It’s in the realm of what we’re expecting and it shows that things have improved a lot in the last four months particularly,” he said, adding that energy prices are the key to the provincial economic growth.

“We’ve had high oil prices for quite a while now. That’s going to underpin investment in the oilsands and these kind of decisions take a while . . . Now they’ve been steadily higher it’s going to filter through.”

Sumner said Alberta has been slow to see recovery in the labour market although it has picked up in the last two months.

“But in 2010 as a whole employment actually fell. It was down 0.4 per cent. In 2011, we’re expecting to see pretty strong employment growth. Employment is typically considered a lagging indicator. GDP growth happens first. Then employment happens after,” said Sumner.

TD Economics said the estimated GDP growth in Alberta for 2010 is 3.0 per cent following a 4.5 per cent decline in 2009. It said the annual average per cent growth from 1995 to 2008 in the province was 3.1 per cent.

In other economic indicators, TD said employment would rise 3.0 per cent this year and by 2.0 per cent in 2012 in Alberta with the employment rate falling to 5.9 per cent in 2011 from 6.5 per cent in 2010. In 2012, the unemployment rate will fall to 5.6 per cent, said TD.

The TD report also forecast retail sales to grow 4.9 per cent this year and by 4.4 per cent in 2012 in Alberta.

Alberta housing starts are forecast to fall by 14.3 per cent this year followed by a 6.5 per cent increase the next year while existing home sales should drop by 1.5 per cent in 2011 and another 8.0 per cent in 2012.

And TD is forecasting average house prices in the province to grow by 1.3 per cent this year and by another 0.8 per cent next year.

Craig Alexander, chief economist for TD Bank Group, said that over the next 12-18 months, the overall pace of the Canadian economic expansion is likely to moderate, as interest rates rise and domestic spending cools.

The report says prospects for resource exports remain relatively bright. Although prices for key commodities may be prone to a moderate pullback in the near term, as demand is disrupted in earthquake-ravaged Japan and monetary authorities in China and other emerging markets work to fight against inflation risks, prices will remain supportive to national income growth, said the report.

“Our outlook assumes that oil prices will average US$95-100 per barrel throughout this year and next, which at that level would deliver a modest net benefit to Canada’s overall economy,” said the report.

“There is a significant geopolitical risk in the premium of oil prices at the moment. Markets have priced in a supply disruption beyond just Libya, but crude oil prices will fall if that does not materialize,” said Alexander. “However, given the high level of uncertainty around how Middle Eastern developments will unfold, crude oil prices remain a wild card for the outlook.”

The TD report said there is no shortage of risks that could materialize over the next few years and negatively impact the economic path. They include high household debt, “excessive valuation in housing markets”, rising inflation in emerging markets, spreading unrest in the Middle East, European government financial woes, and a U.S. recovery reliant on monetary and fiscal stimulus

Posted March 16, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

Alberta economy growing in 2011   Leave a comment

A short one today, kids…I’m working on a newsletter, and it’s taking me forever to format the darn thing.  My goal is to get it done before I do anything else on here.

Cut-and-pasted from the Calgary Herald, and here’s the link.  I’ve bolded a couple of points that I particularly liked.  Have a good weekend.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Alberta economy set for solid growth in 2011: RBC report

4.3% hike in GDP forecast for this year 

By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald – March 11, 2011


CALGARY – Alberta’s economy will grow by 4.3 per cent this year – the best since 2006 – elevating the province to a top-three status among provinces for real GDP growth, says a report by RBC Economics.

This comes from after a 3.3 per cent economic gain in 2010 following a 4.5 per cent decline in 2009.

The latest Provincial Outlook report also forecast growth of 3.8 per cent for the province in 2012.

An improved labour market will be one of the many benefits spreading from renewed strength in Alberta’s oilsands, where the ramping up of capital investment will be a catalyst for stronger activity in many parts of the provincial economy,” said the report.

“Looking farther afield to 2012, the economic picture is expected to be quite similar to this year in Alberta, with energy-related spending and rising non-conventional oil production continuing to drive growth.”

Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist for RBC, said he expects employment creation to gain traction in Alberta “and this will be an important piece of the provincial growth puzzle that was missing last year.”

The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 5.8 per cent this year and to 5.5 per cent in 2012 from 6.5 per cent in 2010.

Alberta was one of only two provinces where employment fell in 2010.

In January 21,600 new jobs were created in the province, marking the largest monthly employment gains since 2006 in Alberta.

“Although the burst of new jobs is not likely to be repeated, we believe that improved job prospects will attract more people to move to Alberta, and boost consumer spending and demand for housing,” said Wright.

RBC is forecasting nearly 50,000 net new jobs in 2011, the highest total since 2007.

“With China and other emerging economies driving global energy demand higher and crude oil supply facing disruptions in the Middle East, there will continue to be a strong focus on developing Alberta’s oilsands capacity,” said Wright. “This will allow certain investment megaprojects to move ahead and increase Alberta’s non-conventional crude oil production.”

RBC’s forecast has Saskatchewan topping all provinces in 2011 with 4.9 per cent economic growth followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at 4.5 per cent and then Alberta. In 2012, Saskatchewan is forecast again to lead the country at 4.3 per cent growth followed by Alberta.

Posted March 11, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

Don’t throw away your old stuff, kids.   Leave a comment

I never had this comic book, and at this price, I probably never will.  This is taken from the Newsarama website, copied below in full:

________________________________________________________________________________

AMAZING FANTASY #15 SELLS FOR $1.1 MILLION

Author Jill Pantozzi – March 9, 2001

The comic book in which Spider-Man made his first appearance went for an amazing $1.1 million in a transaction Monday night. That’s gonna buy a lot of web shooters.

Amazing Fantasy #15, written by Stan Lee , with a cover by Jack Kirby and interior art by Steve Ditko, was originally published in 1962 and sold to many for just 12 cents. (Sales for the issue were some of the highest for Marvel at the time.) These days, they’re a little harder to come by. This particular comic was graded 9.6 or near-mint, plus, and was sold by ComicConnect.com from a private seller to an undisclosed buyer. Aren’t they always? WHO ARE THESE RICH GEEKS AND DOES ONE WANT TO HELP ME OUT WITH MY CAR INSURANCE?!

I digress.

The sale now makes Amazing Fantasy #15 the second most expensive comic ever behind Superman’s debut in Action Comics which went for $1.5 million last year. However, it is the most money ever shelled out for a Silver Age book.

Chief Executive and Founder of ComicConnect, Stephen Fishler, said in a statement Tuesday, “People have often wondered how much this near-perfect condition book would sell for, and today we found out.”

Amazingfantasy15

Posted March 9, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized