Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Message to all Concerned Albertans

Today's letter is from Blaine Maller. This one I think has certainly travelled the farthest. Not only have I received feedback from all over Alberta, but also from other provinces, the United States and even Dubai.

It is an excellent example of why people should never think they can't make a difference; you can. You just need to step up to the plate.

February 9, 2009

To all Concerned Albertans,

I have made every effort to reach out to the Premier and the Energy Minister as well as my MLA and the PC Party and have come to the realization that the Premier is no friend of the oil and gas industry. Now many of you have already come to that conclusion but in my mind I wanted to do my homework and give him the benefit of the doubt and directly have him respond to the concerns that many of you have for the future of Alberta’s energy industry. It was unfathomable that the progressive conservative Premier would jeopardize the health of the energy industry. To me that would be irresponsible. Why would any Premier of Alberta put into question the viability of its major revenue stream?

Unfortunately I received a dose of politicking and re-learned a valuable lesson. Common sense has nothing to do with the PC party politics. My research has exposed what I believe is an anti-industry hidden agenda which began with the election of Mr. Stelmach as leader followed by the announcement of a royalty review, the appointment of the “Expert“ Royalty Review Panel and the presentation of their recommendations to the Premier. This was followed by the release of the NRF (New Royalty Framework) in October 2007 and implementation of the NRF in January 2009.

The recent announcement by Minister Knight of a new advisory panel comprised of Energy and Finance officials and CAPP and SEPAC is the result of the pressure that industry continues to put on the Premier and Minister as well as pressure from rural MLA’s whose towns and small cities and hamlets are feeling the brunt of the industry downturn. The Premier’s recent announcement of some form of relief for small and mid-cap oil and gas companies and tax incentives adds more confusion to the mix and short of the complete scrapping of the NRF, will have no effect short or long term on industry activity.

The unintended consequences have multiplied and the failure of the government to properly review, consult and forecast the effects of the NRF has come back to haunt them. Minister Knight told me that the royalty review panel experts would not be welcomed back to the new panel and that this government/industry review should have been done before the royalties were increased. This was recommended by many in the industry long before the royalty review panel was appointed. The government ignored these requests from industry.

The oil and gas industry was initially cautious and slow to respond publically to the announcement of the NRF, preferring to prepare submissions for the panel and appear before the panel and meet in private with the Energy Minister and Premier in an effort to convey the potential damage to the junior oil and gas sector and major oilsands projects. All this fell on deaf ears and the result is where we find ourselves today.

The industry was surprised and caught off guard by the magnitude of the royalty increases and the Premier dug in. And he remains dug in. He would not back down or back off. He was a man of his word and he promised the public their fair share. He embarked on a campaign that would discount and discredit the industry’s warnings and foretold consequences. “Big Oil” can afford it and that meant us all; start-ups, juniors mid-size and major oil and gas producers. Lost in all of this is the fact that the junior and mid-cap oil and gas sector accounts for +/- 70 % of the conventional oil and gas drilling activity in the Province.

These smaller companies are both public and private but rely solely on cash flow, occasional share issues and bank lines of credit to finance the exploration and development of their lands. These companies acquire leases and seismic, shoot seismic and interpret data, choose a location, acquire the surface rights of access, survey the wellsite and access road, license a well, drill it, complete it, tie it in and equip the well for production. The risk of success or failure is borne solely by the oil and gas companies and their shareholders; by and large Albertans but also includes investors from other provinces and countries.

Many senior energy executives have met privately with the Minister and Premier. The Premier and Energy Minister, while willing to listen, were unwilling to accept the representations of the industry and unwilling or unable to relate to our deep concerns for the health of the energy sector as a whole but more importantly the effects that all Albertans would realize if the NRF was not amended, cancelled or otherwise repealed, etc. It exposed the Premier as being an adversary to the industry as a whole. Everyone was “Big Oil” in his mind and he was going to call the shots. This despite what he says in public.

The special circumstances of the junior and mid-cap oil and gas companies and the role they play in the development of the remaining conventional oil and gas reserves in the Province was dismissed and ignored. The ever increasing costs of development in combination with diminishing production capability in a mature basin were dismissed. The material cost increases in regulatory compliance, delays in standard every day approvals, compliance with new regulations and environmental reviews and public consultations was also dismissed. No credit is given to companies for these sunk costs. They are the costs of doing business we were told. And the cost of doing business in Alberta had not so suddenly gone too far.

The removal of all drilling incentives including deep drilling incentives was dismissed as was the removal of the ARTC (Alberta Royalty Tax Credit) which allowed the deduction of Crown Royalties paid by the oil and gas companies from the corporation’s taxable income. This was implemented in the 70’s to counter a move by the federal government to eliminate tax deductions for royalties paid by oil and gas companies. The ARTC was used by small oil and gas companies as collateral for bank loans and accounted for 15-20% of their cash flow.

Every incentive to drill in Alberta has been taken away. And the assigned percentage of reserves that all oil companies held on Crown lands and that they held on their books prior to the NRF was drastically reduced when the NRF came into effect.

How does this affect the oil and gas companies?

Continue reading.

It is no secret that Blaine's letter has resulted in a boost to the Party, he said as much in his CBC interview a few weeks ago. It has prompted other Albertans to write similiar letters and to speak their mind. We must never be afraid of getting the facts out and helping other Albertans understand our current situation.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

Just a heads up to everyone.

We are planning a number of town hall meetings between now and the end of May.
Here is a quick run down.

April 9 – South Calgary
April 23 – Edmonton
May 7 – North Calgary
May 14 – Lethbridge
May 21 – Medicine Hat

As details are confirmed I will post them here, easiest place to find them will be on our web calendar of events.

We also have an event April 14 at the Petroleum Club which is filling fast.

Email me for more information.

Alberta Needs Your Help

Over the last few months I have enjoyed meeting and speaking to many Albertans. Many are contacting us for the first time and they have been motivated by letters they are reading.

This week I will be featuring the letters that are creating the buzz.
February 7, 2009

Friend and Fellow Albertan:

Because of low commodity prices, the worldwide credit crisis, and the policies of Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, our oil industry is going to have a long, tough year. Two are beyond our control. I’m writing about the third.

In the two years since Premier Stelmach announced the public royalty review process, we’ve all wondered what his agenda was. My investigations lead me to conclude he doesn’t understand or trust the oil industry. Many Tory MLA’s, particularly from northern and rural Alberta, share this view. Somehow, under his leadership, Stelmach has split our province on a north/south, anti-Calgary basis. There is no other possible explanation why he would ignore the mountain of expert advice and subject our industry to punitive royalty increases that will ultimately damage all Albertans.

Stelmach’s recent announcement that he’s going to somehow help junior oil companies without improving investment economics by reducing the Crown share proves once again he just doesn’t comprehend how the wealth-creation process works. His advisors, many political scientists and journalists, and many Albertans don’t understand it either. This is why the “us versus them” aspect of the royalty issue still permeates the public debate.

For 30 years in print and electronic media, I’ve been a vocal supporter of the oil industry. I continue today on a monthly basis in Oilweek and The Calgary Herald. Although I’ve been asked to go into politics many times, I’ve avoided it so I could remain independent as a journalist and commentator. However, the damage being inflicted by the Stelmach government on our company, our employees, our industry and our province is so great and so unnecessary that I have to get involved.

Therefore, I’ve joined a group of likeminded individuals in the Wildrose Alliance Party in a policy and fundraising capacity to create a viable alternative to the current government. I’ve concluded that the only pressure that this government understands is the loss of political power. Many Tories I know are very discouraged with the current leadership and claim that they can change their party from within. While this may be the case in a few years, Alberta can’t wait. Certainly many smaller E&P and service companies and their employees are out of time. We must act now.

As for Wildrose Alliance, what you see today is not the final product. We’re building a centrist, “big tent” party with broad appeal to Alberta’s diverse citizens. But our party will have the true small “c” conservative economic policies the Tories have abandoned. To view an overview I co-authored with party leader Paul Hinman and President Jeff Callaway, go the Wildrose Alliance website and click “Policy Presentation”. There will be many changes to Wildrose Alliance in the next few months.

But we need money to do the foundation work for a major public launch later this year. I’ve personally donated $5,000 in the past 12 months. In the best interests of our province, I’m asking you to make as large a donation as you’re comfortable with. Nothing is the wrong answer. There is no downside to helping. If we create a viable, centre-right alternative to the Tories our province needs, we’ll have a choice next election. If our actions cause the Tories to wake up and become responsive to the needs of working Albertans and its most important industry, then our efforts will be
rewarded much sooner.

I’m working on this a few hours a week because, like you, I have major obligations in ensuring our company emerges from this downturn with the least possible damage. To do this we laid off about 5% of our staff on February 2. Hopefully, it won’t get worse. But I also believe that my modest contribution of time and money to get the Alberta government back on the right path will ultimately help our company.

David L. Yager

David Yager a columnist with Oilweek and the Calgary Herald. He is also the CEO of an oil service company. You can find a printable PDF version of his letter at the Grassroots Oilworkers website.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Successful Edmonton Town Hall

I've just returned to Calgary from a very productive and enjoyable trip to our capital. I would like to thank Todd Loewen for organizing and hosting the town hall meeting in Edmonton last night. He managed to pull together this meeting on rather short notice. Despite the limited notice the event was attended by roughly 50+ people, with many new faces in the group, including a Federal MP.

Paul Hinman, leader of the Wildrose Alliance, covered a range of topics and those who were seeing him speak for the first time were very impressed and took the time to express this to us after the meeting. Those of us who have seen Paul speak numerous times in the past were also suitably impressed. We have witnessed him become a confident, animated and competent public speaker.

The speeches were followed by a Q & A session that lasted quite some time as interest in learning more about us was high. Global TV Edmonton also popped in to take some footage and had a brief interview with yours truly, as Paul was busy at the moment. I have learned today, that the piece was aired pretty much province wide.

I thought I would be the first to blog about this, but alas one of the attendees beat me to it.
Read his thoughts here at Buck75

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Edmonton Town Hall Meeting

A prairie fire has been burning in southern Alberta for a few weeks now and it's time to heat up Edmonton.

Listen for our radio ads running on 630 CHED today and tomorrow.

Whether you are a member of the Wildrose Alliance Party, a supporter of the party, or simply interested in learning more about what the party stands for, then you are cordially invited to attend this event.

Come to meet leader Paul Hinman, fellow party members and conservatives in the Edmonton area.
The theme of this meeting will be the state of Alberta's economy.
Questions about the party or the upcoming AGM in Calgary this June will be answered.
Drinks and light refreshments will also be served.
We hope to see you there!

Host: Wildrose Alliance Party of Northern Alberta
Date: Wednesday, March 25th at 7PM
Location: West Harvest Inn, Henday Room
Street: 17803 Stony Plain Road
City/Town: Edmonton, AB

For more information contact:
Todd Loewen

Friday, March 20, 2009

Evolution of email

It has been interesting to witness the evolution in the use of email over the years, in particular its impact on political movements. Two and half years ago, when I first started maintaining the records for the party, less than 35% of our members had an email address.

Communicating with letters through Canada Post was slow, costly and very labor intensive. Telephoning members meant having a large group of dedicated members. Today communications are done incredibly fast and at minimal cost.

Email is great; it never calls and interrupts your evening meal. If it is a topic you don’t care for, you can delete it rather than trying to explain to an overworked volunteer why you don’t want to hear their message.

Now more than 65% of our members hear from us on a regular basis via email. The rise is primarily being driven by new members. (And there have been a lot of them.) An incredible 90% of members who joined this year, have registered their email with us. Not to be undone, renewing members are hot on their heels at 80%.

Today I had a perfect example of just how fast this communication method is working for us. A press release was sent out just after 2 PM; by 2:10 I was already getting feedback via return email … this is before the original send had even hit my inbox!

So if you are member or just someone who is interested in what we have to say;
Email me!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Completing your online membership application.

The following will act as a reference to aid online registration.

If you are renewing and there ae no changes to your contact information, you can skip down to the fifth screenshot. ***

You can click on any of the screen shots to get an enlarged version for easier viewing.

The registration of members is comprised of two components.

1) Gathering of the pertinent contact information.
2) Processing the payment.

From our home screen click on "Join" on the left hand side of screen.

This will take you to a screen that describes the various ways you can obtain a membership. To proceed with online registration click on the sentence; "Click here to sign up online."

You will then be at the screen that captures your name, address, etc. You will select the term of your membership; 1, 3 or 5 years. You will also select how you will pay; online, mail in or by phone.
Hit submit when all fields are complete.

This will take you to this screen, which confirms your application has been recieved and outlines your options for submitting payment.
If you would like to complete your payment online, return to our home screen.

*** Renewing with no changes to contact info start here.

Enter the appropriate amount of your payment in the box. (1 year = $ 10.00, 3 year = $ 25.00, 5 year = $ 40.00) on the right hand side of page. Click: "Continue".

If you use PayPal and have your computer set to remember this; the following screen will appear. If not you will get the screen below.

Sign into your PayPal account to process a payment this way.

Alternatively you can click on "continue" under the "Don't have a PayPal Account".

For all credit card payments you will complete the following screen.

I hope this has been of assistance and if you are still having issues by all means, please call me at the office. 1-888-262-1888 or 403-769-0992 in Calgary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hello and welcome to my blog.

My name is Jane Morgan and in February I became the Executive Director for the Wildrose Alliance Party. In a nutshell I am responsible for the operational side of the party activities. If you want to know anything about the party, I am your first “go to” person.

Through this blog I will share what is happening at the Wildrose Alliance head office. I see this as being a component to our philosophy of being open and accountable.

The blog will be open for comments and feedback. They will be moderated, so please be patient if they do not appear right away. My responsibilities of answering calls and emails from members and constituencies will take precedence over blog moderation.

I will endeavor to publish most comments as I do not want to stifle people’s opinions, nor do I shy away from a good debate. However any which include private details of specific members will not be made public. Also try to keep the language clean, presumably we are all adults and should be able to find words to express our thoughts without resorting to swearing.

Other than leaving a comment here, you can also reach me via phone at 403.769.0992 or outside of Calgary toll free at 1.888.262.1888.


#3, 1303 – 44 Ave. NE
Calgary, AB
T2E 6L5