fbpx
Connect with us

Energy

WITTEVRONGEL: Regulatory quicksand holds back clean tech in Alberta

“Sitting on these abandoned and orphaned wells instead of repurposing them is a forgone opportunity, and a shameful waste.”

mm

Published

on

Guest column from Krystle Wittevrongel, Public Policy Analyst at the Montreal Economic Institute

With Alberta’s economy still sputtering and not expected to rebound until 2023, the knowledge that we are sitting on an enormous economic opportunity is music to the ears of most Albertans. The fact that this opportunity not only addresses current financial and environmental issues but also helps diversify the energy sector is a veritable symphony.

According to a recent report by Energy Futures Lab and the Canada West Foundation, repurposing some of the inactive and orphaned wells in the province could yield substantial benefits in this regard. 

Currently there are about 95,000 inactive and orphaned wells across Alberta, and recent attention has been focused on cleaning them up. In fact, just last year the federal government committed $1 billion to the province in a bid to create jobs and support environmental targets in this area.

We now know, however, that there is more that can be done with this dormant infrastructure. Many of these sites could be repurposed by energy entrepreneurs for alternative energy uses, including geothermal, micro-solar, hydrogen, recovery of lithium or other minerals, or carbon capture and storage. Alberta is well positioned to benefit from such development. 

For example, developing geothermal energy could help put geologists, reservoir engineers, drillers, and other oil patch workers back to work by sharing and expanding oil- and gas-related resources. Repurposing these inactive sites and returning them to productive use also furthers the goals of environmentalists, Indigenous groups, and taxpayers, while eliminating a portion of the difficult (and expensive) problem of aging oil and gas infrastructure. It really is a win-win. 

However, for years, energy entrepreneurs have been unable to capitalize on this opportunity to create jobs and help diversify the energy sector. To blame are inflexible regulations that do not allow for site repurposing, as well as a lack of clarity and collaboration among regulators. 

As noted in the aforementioned report, it took over five years for the RenuWell Project to navigate the regulatory hurdles involved in repurposing legacy oil and gas infrastructure for community solar power. This project invests in new lower-carbon technologies for exploration, cleaner extraction, and reduced long-term environmental impacts.   

Another project, Alberta No. 1, attempted to repurpose existing infrastructure to generate geothermal energy. Instead, their economic and timeline advantages evaporated, and the murkiness of the regulatory waters has left the project in limbo. Ironically, if they had decided to break new ground rather than minimizing environmental disturbance and repurposing, they would be in a better position today.

As such stories illustrate, Albertans continue to miss out on economic and environmental improvement opportunities. All the while, the sites sit effectively abandoned and untouched.

The Alberta Energy Regulator has already committed to reducing red tape in regulatory processes, so they are well positioned to seriously consider the recommendations put forward in the report. But while Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage has acknowledged that the government is working on a number of these priorities, firm leadership will be required. 

Sitting on these abandoned and orphaned wells instead of repurposing them is a forgone opportunity, and a shameful waste. To develop alternative energy sources and help foster economic recovery in Alberta, the barriers that have prevented energy entrepreneurs from taking advantage of relevant expertise and assets from the oil and gas industry need to be removed.

And for a provincial government committed to cutting red tape, here is a prime example of where we can reduce costs, speed up approvals, and make life easier for hard-working Albertans and their businesses.

Guest column from Krystle Wittevrongel, Public Policy Analyst at the Montreal Economic Institute

Continue Reading
2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Steven Ruthven

    May 9, 2021 at 6:11 pm

    Wow !! What a game changer of a story!!

    The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) is the door stop of energy regulation, in Alberta.

    AER has been growing for a long time, in Alberta, under successive political Energy Ministers & Premiers. I’ve heard people in the oil industry (Accountants) compare AER regulations to the Revenue Canada Tax Code.

    I very much doubt the Energy Minister Savage or Premier Kenney will work diligently on this file due to the other pressing issues taking up much of the Premier’s time.

    My two cents.

  2. Left Coast

    May 8, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    Carbon Capture has to be the dumbest idea ever . . . pumping Plant Food into the ground is insane.
    CO2 is NOT Carbon . . . Coal is Carbon !
    CO2 is a benign Gas that enables plants to grow, more CO2 = more production & Yield.

    Lots of Geothermal going on at the coast for decades . . . but have never seen a multi-million dollar oil rig used for that purpose.

    In the last year we have watch the Massive Green Energy FAILS in California & Texas . . . why would anyone want to emulate this insanity? Wind & Solar are Part-Time solutions to a full-time problem . . . if they can’t keep the Air conditions on in LA in the middle of summer . . . how will they keep Albertans from freezing in the winter?
    Imagine if LA had a few million electric cars . . . lol

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Energy

IEA recognizes Canadian oil industry as the environmental world leader

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives, recognized by the IEA as by far the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country.  

mm

Published

on

Canada is doing great but should take measures to continue its reputation as a preferred oil and gas supplier on the global market, says the International Energy Agency.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol is a big advocate for net zero targets, but still recognizes the reliance on oil and gas that will persist into the future.

He said he prefers oil supply to come from “good partners” like Canada, he told a press conference.

“Canada has been a cornerstone of global energy markets, a reliable partner for years,” said Birol.

“We will still need oil and gas for years to come… I prefer oil is produced by countries … like Canada (that) want to reduce the emissions of oil and gas.” 

The same IEA report included recommendations for Canada to incentivise moves away from oil production, yet the director still recognizes Canada’s contribution to the global market.

World oil consumption returned to pre-pandemic levels and natural gas demand surpassed levels pre-COVID-19 last year, according to IEA data.

Yet Canada only supplies 6% of the current world market.

Consumption of both oil and gas is expected to continue rising even as more renewable energy sources come online. 

A Russian-caused natural gas crisis in Europe has many looking to Canada as a great alternative.

“The world needs reliable partners,” said Birol, of the European situation.  

Canada is the fourth-largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and home to the third-largest oil reserves.

“This creates employment for Canadians and secure and reliable oil and gas for both domestic and global markets,” the IEA said.  

The IEA recommends that remaining competitive in global oil and gas markets requires further emission reductions, to ensure the sector remains a major driver of the Canadian economy beyond 2050.

Emission reduction has already been steadily implemented in Canada, analysts praised the oil and gas industry’s “strong track record” of reducing emissions intensity.

The oilsands by have decreased emissions by 32% since 1990 and further reductions of up to 27% are expected by 2030. 

Canadian oil and gas companies spend an average of $1 billion per year on clean energy technology, in addition to billions in environmental protection.  

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives, recognized by the IEA as the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country.  

“Canadian oil and natural gas producers are leveraging their improving environmental, social and governance performance and Canada’s stringent environmental regulations to build a global competitive advantage.”

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

Continue Reading

Energy

Oil price jump prompts additional $6 billion in investments

Oilsand investments alone are expected to increase to $11.6 billion in 2022, a 33% jump.

mm

Published

on

The largest oil and gas industry group in Canada says it’s expecting $32.8 billion in oil patch spending this year, a 22% jump from last year.

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) says the increased investment will help capitalize on the surge in crude oil prices, the growth will amount to an additional $6 billion this year.

Oilsand investments alone are expected to increase to $11.6 billion in 2022, a 33% jump.

As of Friday, the price of West Texas intermediate crude oil today is $87.05.

Tim McMillan, president of the CAPP, said the seven-year high price of oil doesn’t mean bad news, as companies are recording record cash flows and investment remains well below what it was in the boom years.

For example, in 2014 the Canadian industry captured 10% of total global upstream natural gas and oil investment, and the oil patch received record investment at $81 billion.

“Today we’re at $32 billion, and we’re only capturing about 6% of global investment,” said McMillan.

“We’ve lost ground to other oil and gas producers, which I think is problematic for a lot of reasons … and it leaves billions of dollars of investment that is going somewhere else, and not to Canada.”

Alberta is expected to be the leader among provinces in overall oil and gas capital spending, with upstream investment expected to increase 24% to $24.5 billion in 2022.

Over 80% of the industry’s new capital spending this year will be focused in Alberta, representing an additional $4.8 billion of investment into the province compared with 2021, according to CAPP.

Investment increase is also excepted in British Colombia, Saskatchewan and offshore production.

This means major recovery for the industry, as 2020 was harsh with global demand crashing and oil prices collapsing.

Global investment is on the down turn, as potential investors are discouraged by Canada’s history of cancelled pipeline projects, regulatory hurdles and negative government policy signals.

McMillan explained many now see Canada as a “difficult place to invest.”

“Rapid demand growth for oil and natural gas globally and strengthening commodity prices mean there is opportunity for Canada’s industry for decades to come,” said McMillan.

“To ensure a true recovery takes hold in Canada, government at all levels along with the industry must work together to create an environment where the natural gas and oil industry can thrive and attract investment back to Canada.”

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

Continue Reading

Energy

Energy report tells feds to incentivize moves away from oil

The IEA calls for the Canadian government to creating transparent changes to the oil and gas industry but incentivizing technology changes and creating emergency oil stocks.

mm

Published

on

A new report says Canada should further invest in clean in electricity and that our country is already among the cleanest energy production in the world.

The International Energy Analysis (IEA) came out with a report outlining recommendations for Canada’s energy future, including balanced decarbonization across the country.

That means higher coordination between federal, provincial and territorial levels to set clear targets for energy efficiency in buildings, transport and industry sectors.

The IEA calls for the Canadian government to create transparent changes to the oil and gas industry but incentivizing technology changes and creating emergency oil stocks.

Canada’s electricity system is one of the cleanest globally according to the IEA report, as 80% of supply is from non-emitting sources such as hydropower and nuclear power.

“Canada’s wealth of clean electricity and its innovative spirit can help drive a secure and affordable transformation of its energy system and help realize its ambitious goals,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“Equally important, Canada’s efforts to reduce emissions — of both carbon dioxide and methane — from its oil and gas production can help ensure its continued place as a reliable supplier of energy to the world.”

The report follows Environmental Minister Steven Guildbeault’s announcement for Canada to be ready to eliminate fossil fuels in 18 months, with zero-emission cars and stricter methane regulations.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole expressed concern on Twitter with the zero emission plans, calling attention to the need to invest in the oil sector rather than turn away from it.

Energy makes up over 10% of Canada’s GDP, being a major source of capital investment, export revenue and jobs, making the net-zero goals both a challenge and opportunity.

Since the last IEA review in 2015, Canada has made international and domestic commitments dedicated to transforming the energy sector, including a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40‑45% by 2030.

Canada is also a part of the United Nations zero-emission 2050 target that involves over 130 countries worldwide.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard.
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Share

Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

1,138 signatures

No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

**your signature**



The Western Standard will never accept government bailout money. By becoming a Western Standard member, you are supporting government bailout-free and proudly western media that is on your side. With your support, we can give Westerners a voice that doesn\'t need taxpayers money.

Share this with your friends:

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard New Media Corp.