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Alberta’s OPEC-style cuts draw down oil backlog, analysis firm says

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Concerns with the fallout from Alberta’s OPEC-style cuts may persist, but an energy data analysis firm says the mandatory oil curtailment appears to be drawing down crude inventories.

The province this month imposed an 8.7-per-cent oil-production cut on industry, or roughly 325,000 barrels a day, in order to clear a huge backlog of crude that was punishing Alberta oil prices.

Government officials haven’t released statistical updates on the effectiveness of the strategy, but a senior oil analyst at Genscape Inc. said its research indicates the curtailment is working as intended so far.

“We are seeing it through January 19th roughly in line with what the government has stated as their goals to draw down inventories,” Mike Walls said in an interview.

“For the most part, we saw significant builds [in inventories] basically throughout 2018, and now we are starting to see draws. So I can say that they are having an impact already.”

Premier Rachel Notley has pointed to the narrowing gap between Canadian and American benchmark oil prices as evidence of the impact of the government’s strategy. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

On Twitter Friday, Genscape said inventories in Western Canada fell 603,000 barrels to 34 million barrels for the week ending Jan. 18, pointing to it as “further evidence that Alberta production cuts continue to impact the market.”

The privately held U.S.-based firm uses both public data and proprietary research to gather information for clients on storage hubs, pipeline flows and crude-by-rail shipments in Western Canada.

The province did not confirm Genscape’s figures. The government gets its data from a third party and the information is not publicly available.

“We’re currently reviewing how much has been drawn down from all storage levels across Alberta,” government spokesperson Mike McKinnon said in an e-mail. “More information, including the next steps, will be available soon.” 

Alberta is matching its production levels to what its estimated export capacity is while also encouraging a drawdown in storage levels. For January and February, this production limit is 3.6 million barrels a day of raw crude and bitumen, which is slightly lower than the province’s estimated export capacity.

Premier Rachel Notley has pointed to the narrowing gap between Canadian and American benchmark oil prices as evidence of the impact of the government’s strategy.

Peter Tertzakian, executive director of the ARC Energy Research Institute, said he believes the province’s policy is working. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

On Friday, the difference was under $10 US a barrel. In the fall, it spiked to over $50.

Energy economist Peter Tertzakian, executive director of the ARC Energy Research Institute, said he believes the policy is working and that the price is a good gauge. 

“The differential has rebounded,” said Tertzakian.

“I’m optimistic we’re through the worst of it and hopefully we won’t need government intervention in the future. But the extraordinary action that they took at that time was appropriate.

“We were facing catastrophic layoffs had the situation gone on for several more weeks. I believe that was averted. Now, the situation is still not healthy, but I believe the government prevented something far worse from happening.”

Alberta announced in early December that it would temporarily impose production cuts on the industry in 2019.

The decision followed calls from some oil company CEOs — and United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney — for the province to enact a mandatory curtailment to bolster prices, improve cash flow and stem job losses.

But opponents of the policy — including Suncor, Husky Energy and Imperial Oil — said the market was working and that taking such a step could have implications for future investment in Alberta.

Hundreds of oil tank cars are waiting to be loaded at a terminal near the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. For January and February, Alberta’s production limit is 3.6 million barrels a day of raw crude and bitumen, which is slightly lower than the province’s estimated export capacity. (Dave Rae/CBC)

Conference Board of Canada chief economist Pedro Antunes wrote this month that intervening in industry production plans “could hurt the province’s attractiveness for future investment over the long term.” 

But he also said the near-term solution “will likely be effective in shoring up prices and heading off a decline in royalties and a larger pullback in activity in the oilfield services sector.”

Industry and government will also be mindful of any significant interruption to rail or pipeline movement, which could have major impacts on the effort to reduce the oil glut if they occurred. 

Kevin Birn, an oilsands analyst with IHS Markit, said Alberta’s curtailment policy is probably something that’s going to be judged over a longer period of time.

“Yes, differentials have narrowed and that’s a positive metric because the prices we saw prior to Christmas were unsustainable,” Birn said. “But curtailment needs to be measured over a longer period of time.”

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Window repair or replacement is the responsibility of the condo corporation

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If the windows in your condo are hazy, drafty, or have rotting frames, it’s an indicator that they need repairs or outright replacement.

However, under the Condominium Act, it is the responsibility of the condo’s board to carry out such changes as a replaced window is a common element.

“Under the Condominium Act, a declaration may alter the maintenance or repair obligations of unit owners and the corporation but cannot make unit owners responsible for repairs to the common elements,” said Gerry Hyman is a former president of the Canadian Condominium Institute and contributor for the Star.

“A declaration for a high-rise condominium invariably provides that the unit boundary is the interior surface of windows. That means that the entire window — whether it is a single pane or a double pane — is a common element. Necessary repairs or replacement of a broken pane is the obligation of the corporation.”

According to Consumer Reports, selecting an installing windows replacement can be very overwhelming for homeowners. Therefore, if you aren’t covered by your condo’s corporation, it would be necessary to hire professional hands.

Wood, vinyl and composite windows need to be tested on how they can withstand various natural elements. For wind resistance, a window can be very tight when it’s warm but get quite cold too—especially when it begins to leak a lot.

Whatever the case may be, the bottom line remains that replacement windows can save you heating and cooling costs, but it’s best not to expect drastic savings.

Additionally, while getting a new window might help you save on your electric and gas bills, due to their expensive cost, it may take a long time to offset their cost.

Mid-last-year, the government withdraw a $377 million Green Ontario program that provided subsidy on windows to installers and repairers. Window companies had to install energy-efficient windows in order to qualify for the government subsidy that pays for up to $500 of a $1,000 to $1,500 window.

Due to the largely generous subsidies from the government under the Green Ontario program, a lot of window dealers were fully booked for months—even after the program had ended.

“We’re fine with the program ending, we just need more time to satisfy consumers,” said Jason Neal, the executive director of the Siding and Window Dealer Association of Canada, the industry group representing window dealers in a report.

According to Neal, the Progressive Conservatives acted hastily, making massive changes with no prior notice.

“No notification was given to us by anyone,” he said, noting he learned about the change through one of his dealers.

“It’s created a ripple effect.If they had just given us notice we would have pushed that down the line from the manufacturer right into the dealer right down to the consumer.”

Neal noted that he wasn’t particularly sad to see the Green Ontario program end, as it was “the worst rebate program in the history of the window industry.”

“It’s been horrible,” he said. “$500 a window has created such hysteria.”

However, despite the program ending about a year ago, numerous homeowners have been contacting window dealers consistently with concerns that they might not be able to afford replacement windows without the government’s subsidy.

“I understand their concern,” said window dealer Chris George. “I would suggest they reach out to their local representative of the government in their riding and let them know about their concerns.”

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7 Vancouver Real Estate Buying Tips

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The real estate market in Vancouver is turning around for good for everyone looking to purchase a home.

Previously soaring prices are now beginning to ease up, making it a perfect time for buyers—with real estate agents already getting ready for a very busy spring and summer season.

However, before splashing cash on a new property, there are some very important tips you need to know to ensure you make the most of the buyer’s market.

Here are some few expert tips that would guide you when purchasing a home in the sometimes frustration Vancouver seller’s market.

  1. Get adequate financing

It is very important that before you make the move to purchase a property, you put into careful consideration your credit score.

Normally, home buyers with lower scores use the secondary mortgage market to finance their purchase, as they’re more likely to pay a higher interest rate.However, it is advisable to get loan approval long before purchasing the house. This way, you are fully aware of how much you are able to spend—but never be tempted to borrow the maximum amount of money available.

“What’s your mortgage payment that you’re comfortable with? And take into the fact the taxes you’re going to have to pay, if it’s a strata – what the maintenance fees are, if it’s a home what type of maintenance are you going to have to pay in the future?” said Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in a report.

Always be careful of the type of loan you secure and ensure that you can comfortably afford it over a long period of time.

  1. Get a real estate agent

Buying a property without professional help is a very risky move and can be likened to choosing to represent yourself in court without a lawyer. While you might trust your negotiation skills, only realtors are permitted to present offers directly.

Therefore, it is necessary to get a professional real estate agent in the area to represent you. So, screen a few agents and select the best one who has in-depth knowledge of the markets and has a great reputation.

“They’re there to protect you. They’re there to walk you through each step of the process,” Moore said.

  1. Sign up for automated alerts

Most—if not all—realtors have access to the Vancouver real estate board’s database which is updated approximately two days before the public MLS website.

Therefore, you can request from your realtor to sign you up for automatic real-time alerts of all new listings. Doing this gives you an edge as you’re among the very first to know about new properties.

  1. Do a thorough inspection

After receiving an alert for a new listing, it is necessary to push almost immediately for an inspection from your realtor. In this current market, buyers now have time to make an inspection.

Making a quick inspection eliminates any surprises—as there could be major maintenance or repair issues that could spring up. Therefore, you can now table your offer based on the outcome of the inspection, with clauses about claiming your damage deposit back if everything isn’t as was advertised.

Additionally, if you notice that renovations were done, you need to be sure that it was permitted work and carried out appropriately. Failing to do this would ultimately lead to further cost down the line and simultaneously affect the resale value.

  1. Have a back-up plan

There’s always the possibility that everything may not go as smoothly as you’d want. From the inspection being a failureto the property not living up to your expectations—or not being able to agree on the closing date that matches with your needs.

However, a professional real estate agent will definitely help you get past all of these things. If you plan on selling the property as you buy, you can table that and make it part of the deal.

“You’ve got an option, especially in a buyer’s market: you can put in an offer subject to selling your place. So maybe you want to have a place lined up,” Moore added.

Additionally, building contingencies into your buying plan is necessary. Things such as unexpected delays in closing the deal, closing cost and moving costs that could result in added living expenses if that’s your permanent home.

  1. Don’t fall for the buyer frenzy

The Vancouver market buying frenzy that caused a serious climb in the prices a couple of years ago has ended. Thus, it is important not to get caught up in bidding wars with properties that have been deliberately under-priced—with the hope of initiating multiple offers.

“Some of the sellers have been on the market for over a year and they’re eager to sell. So what I’m saying to consumers is: you have a lot of choices, you’re in the driver’s seat, let’s go out and take a look at what’s available,” said Moore.

  1. Never be wary of multiple offers

When purchasing a property, don’t be afraid of multiple offers as you have the same opportunity as anybody else.

Typically, there are just a few offers below the asking price: a couple priced fully, and two or three above the asking price—depending on how close the fair market value is from the asking price.

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Do you know what kind of condo you’re buying?

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(NC) Condominiums can come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to know that not all condos are created equal when it comes to warranty coverage.

Whether you’re buying a condominium townhouse, loft-style two-bedroom or a high-rise studio, they are all classified as condominiums if you own your unit while at the same time share access (and the associated fees) for facilities ranging from pools and parking garages to elevators and driveways, otherwise known as common elements.

The most common types of condos are standard condominiums and common elements condominiums. The determination of how a condominium project is designated happens during the planning stage when the builder proposes the project and the municipality approves it.

When you’re in the market to buy, you need to know how your chosen condo is classified because it affects the warranty coverage under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Standard condominiums have warranty coverage for units and common elements, but common elements condominiums only have unit coverage.

How could this affect you as the owner? If your condo complex has underground parking and, for example, there are problems with leaks or a faulty door, the condo designation will determine whether there’s warranty coverage.

If your unit is a standard condominium development, then the common elements warranty may cover the repairs. If it’s a common element condominium development, then repairs might have to be covered by the condo corporation’s insurance, which could impact your condo fees or require a special assessment on all the owners.

To avoid surprises, you should have a real estate lawyer review the Declaration and Description attached to your purchase agreement to be sure that you know the designation and boundaries of the unit you’re looking to purchase. Find more information on the types of condos and their coverage at tarion.com.

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