Nobody should be surprised Justin Trudeau used the COP26 summit as a platform to announce an emissions cap targeting Western Canada’s oil and gas sector. Trudeau had campaigned on imposing a cap and the climate summit provided him an ideal international stage from which to announce it.
The Trudeau family’s disdain for the West is well established. Pierre Trudeau castrated the oil and gas sector with his National Energy Program back in the 1980s. When Western yokels became upset, he responded by literally giving Western protesters the middle finger when he later passed through the region. Justin Trudeau sees the prairies as nothing more than a fly-over country that bores him as he looks out the window of his Challenger jet en route to a solemn beach vacation. To see Justin carrying on his father’s legacy of assailing Western Canada’s energy sector is not shocking at all, or at least it shouldn’t be.
What is surprising is federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s complete silence.
Trudeau’s act of international virtue signalling at the expense of the West’s oil and gas sector provided O’Toole with an opportunity to demonstrate some leadership and backbone. A thoughtful and strong rebuttal to Trudeau’s short-sighted emissions cap could have established O’Toole as an opposition leader willing to take on a debate with Canada’s interest in mind. Instead, O’Toole is avoiding the issue at all costs and is focused on the issue of Canada’s flags being lowered while Remembrance Day approaches. Perhaps somebody should tell Erin it is possible to take on more than one issue at a time.
The flag issue is a pressing and emotional one but it is short-term. Trudeau likely will raise the flags shortly before Remembrance Day so they can be lowered symbolically, and will paint himself as a hero sensitive to both Canada’s First Nations community and veterans. O’Toole’s stance on the flags will be forgotten within weeks while the emission cap he let go unopposed could damage Canada’s economy for generations.
O’Toole is terrified of upsetting the precious voters within Quebec and southern Ontario. Indeed, the CPC is going to have to make serious inroads within Central Canada if they hope to win the next federal election. Opposing Trudeau’s proposed emissions cap on the oil and gas sector doesn’t have to mean sacrificing Central Canadian voters. The emissions cap is going to harm Canadians from coast to coast as inflation grows and energy poverty looms for us all. O’Toole could have been critical of Trudeau’s plan without being regionally divisive, but it would have taken time and effort to make the case that the plan is bad for all Canadians. O’Toole chose to try to hide from the issue rather than show leadership.
Energy security is going to be a pressing issue in the very near future. The fate of Enbridge’s Line 5 is very questionable. If it is shut down, both Ontario and Quebec will suffer immediately and dearly. Europe is currently increasing its coal consumption while Russia expands production of oil and gas in order to feed the ever-hungry energy consumers of India and China. President Joe Biden is begging OPEC to increase output due to skyrocketing energy prices. Even Norway is unapologetically increasing its oil exploration and production in order to meet world demand.
There is no better time than right now to point out Canada’s clean, ethical petrochemical products are available to fill North America’s growing energy needs. An emissions cap targeting oil and gas within Canada will chill investment and slow production. Energy demand isn’t going away, thus Canada will find itself importing more oil than ever from nations with terrible environmental and human rights standards. We will be paying a premium for oil while literally shutting in our local supplies. It is self-destructive and ludicrous. Why is O’Toole refusing to make this case?
Western Canada’s energy sector has been working to reduce emissions intensity for decades and with great success. Between 2008 and 2011 the emissions from a barrel of oil produced in the oilsands have been reduced by 22% and they continue to drop. Carbon capture and hydrogen technology have made incredible advances in reducing emissions thanks to research done by Canadian energy producers. We can increase energy output while still keeping emissions under control. O’Toole should be celebrating those accomplishments. Energy producers will hardly feel incentivized to continue investing in emission reduction technology if they can’t even get positive recognition for it, much less a fiscal reward.
O’Toole could have opposed Trudeau’s plans without taking regional sides. He could have been a force for Canadian unity as he made a case for the entire nation on the benefits of embracing our clean, ethical oil and gas sector. In his silence, O’Toole has fed regional division within Canada. Oil and gas-producing provinces rightly feel they have no allies on the federal front and are being left in the cold by the O’Toole. While Western Canada contributes heavily to the Conservative seat count, they still get the cold shoulder from the party leadership in times of need. It almost feels like our equalization payments.
Erin O’Toole had the chance to stand out as a leader willing to put it on the line for Canada. He could have taken the tough, but principled road in defending our oil and gas sector against Trudeau’s incursions. O’Toole decided to hide from the issue instead and Western Canada is going to pay dearly for his cowardice.
It’s time to stop supporting a party that won’t support us. Come to think of it, it’s getting near time to stop supporting a nation that won’t support us, but that’s fodder for a whole new column.
Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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