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Delays at Sturgeon Refinery add to Alberta heavy oil price discount woes

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A new refinery touted as part of the solution to Alberta’s oversupply of heavy oil likely won’t begin processing oilsands bitumen until year-end, several months later than expected.

That means 80,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen that would have been delivered to the $9.7-billion Sturgeon Refinery near Edmonton is instead joining the queue to be placed on overcrowded pipelines leaving the province.

Multiple equipment failures have prevented the expected mid-2018 startup of the part of the refinery designed to break down heavy, sticky bitumen into an upgraded oil that can then be converted into consumer products, said Ian MacGregor, CEO of co-owner North West Refining Inc.

“I think we’re going to be running on bitumen by the end of the year,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

‘We’ll find other problems’

“It will take awhile to come up to full capacity because, as we put bitumen into it, we’ll find other problems.”

The refinery contains some 7,000 pieces of equipment, each worth $100,000 or more, and getting them all to operate in concert is taking more time than expected, MacGregor said.

The latest setback involves a heat exchanger that was apparently damaged during installation, he said.

The refinery is designed to process 50,000 barrels per day of bitumen and return some 30,000 bpd of diluent to the Alberta market.

Freeing up 80,000 bpd of pipeline space would help tighten discounts on Western Canadian Select bitumen blend versus New York-traded West Texas Intermediate that have widened to as much as US$52 per barrel recently, said analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital.

“I think right now the gap is about 200,000 barrels a day so it’s sizable. It’s not half of it but it’s getting close to half,” he said.

WCS discounts are expected to fall to about US$25 per barrel in the first quarter of 2019, he said, due to factors including voluntary production cuts by Alberta producers, increases in crude-by-rail exports and the end of maintenance shutdowns at U.S. refineries that process Canadian crude.

Plant producing diesel from synthetic crude

Sturgeon, the first new refinery built in Alberta in more than 30 years, has been producing diesel from synthetic crude upgraded at an Alberta oilsands mine for the past 11 months.

MacGregor said the operation is benefiting financially as high price discounts on stranded Alberta heavy oil have also begun to affect light oil and synthetic oil, leading to its feedstock costing as much as US$30 per barrel less than usual.

He says the refinery is currently producing between 35,000 and 40,000 barrels per day of diesel.

“If the numbers stay like this, they’re going to be astounding when we’re running on bitumen,” he said.

In spite of that, he said he thinks it “makes sense” for the Alberta government to impose industry-wide production cuts, as suggested by producer Cenovus Energy Inc., to better align output with pipeline space to boost prices and protect its royalty stream.

The refinery is a joint venture of North West Refining and oilsands producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., which is to provide 25 per cent of its bitumen feedstock.

The rest is to come from the government-owned Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission, which can collect royalties in the form of bitumen.

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The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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