REPORT: Carr, McKenna, etc: Energy & #Econ4Tmro, CGY

In partnership with The Pearson Centre, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce hosted Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr, and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, for a dynamic discussion on how our innovation and infrastructure choices in oil and gas today will be important factors in shaping our country’s energy future tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
11:30 am – 1:45 pm
The Fairmont Palliser

Ministers Carr and McKenna shared insights on the federal government’s plan to address the issues facing the sector, and outline the Canadian government’s innovation plan and climate change targets that will help strengthen Canada’s energy industry.

Following the Minister, a panel of policy and industry experts, moderated by Iris Evans, former Alberta Minister, weighed in on the current challenges facing the energy industry. The group also discussed the opportunities for government and industry to work together to ensure Canada’s energy future is strong.

Panelists included:

· Brenda Kenny, VP, Climate Change Emissions Management Committee

· Ian MacGregor, Chair, Northwest Upgrader and Refinery

· Audrey Mascarhenas, President and CEO, Questor Technologies

______________________________________________________________________________________
REPORT
“Energy Policy and the Economy for Tomorrow”

Report prepared by Cheryl Knight, President, Cheryl Knight & Associates Ltd., Calgary

How our innovation and infrastructure choices in oil and gas today will be important factors shaping our country’s energy future tomorrow

Table of contents

1. Report of the event
2. Recommendations summary
3. Commentary by Tim MacMillan, CAPP
4. Commentary by Joe Dion, Frog Lake Energy Resources
5. Matt Grant, Associate, BD&P LLP
6. Roxanna Benoit, Enbridge
7. Mike Crichton

1. THE REPORT

The Pearson Centre for Public Policy, in partnership with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, hosted Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr and Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna who provided opening remarks prior to a panel discussion. The panel was moderated by Iris Evans, former Alberta Minister. Three panelist experts commented on different aspects of the oil and gas development and offered perspectives on the opportunities for government and industry to work together towards a strong and sustainable energy future.

This report provides an overview of speakers’ key points as well as commentary offered by attendees.

Adam Legge, CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce thanked all those in attendance including the Ministers, panelists, special guests and sponsors and provided introductory comments. Mr. Legge reinforced the importance of good process backed by good science to support decisions in front of the Federal Government and affirmed the Chamber’s support. At the same time, he expressed what many in the audience were no doubt thinking that “we’re all frustrated today by what happened in Montreal yesterday.” The NEB had just cancelled Energy East hearings in Montreal.

Andrew Cardozo, President, Pearson Centre provided an overview of the role and objectives of the Pearson Centre and recognized the organization’s Advisory Board including the Chair, Sandra Pupatello. The Pearson Centre addresses complex issues by bringing together a diverse group of subject matter experts on selected topics, as well as those affected by them, to share their ideas. The event in Calgary, attended by over 300 people, is part of the #Econ4Tmro series and aimed to address important opportunities and challenges of the Canadian economy. Mr. Cardozo positioned the luncheon topic with the reflection that “the energy sector’s success was key to the success of the country and today’s meeting would focus on both economic development and environmental sustainability with respect to natural resource development.”

Keynote Speakers:

Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna
Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr,

Panel Moderator:

Iris Evans, former Alberta Minister

Panelists:

Brenda Kenny, VP, Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation
Ian MacGregor, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, North West Upgrading
Audrey Mascarenhas, President and CEO, Questor Technology Inc.

Opening Remarks:

Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment

Before introducing Minister Carr, Minister McKenna recognized the value of bringing together key decision-makers and people of different political affiliations. She affirmed both her respect for the resiliency of Albertans and understanding of how challenging it is in Alberta today. She added that the Federal Government was well aware that “the success of Alberta impacts how well Canada can do as a nation”. She summed up the day’s discussion theme by stressing that “the economy and the environment go together and we need to show how serious we are about tackling climate change to get our resources to market.” Finally, Minister McKenna confirmed the government’s commitment to working closely with the Alberta government in every federal portfolio.

In introducing Minister Car, Minister McKenna reflected on the importance of working closely with him and stated that their joint announcement in January of the principles and plans for environmental assessment processes for major projects is “the first part of a broader strategy to demonstrate to Canadians and to the world that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.”

Hon. Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources

Minister Carr opened his address by framing the dilemma of billions of dollars of investment in major projects with a “major challenge to create principles, processes and clear timelines to provide greater certainty to investors.” He offered the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project, as an example and stated there would be a Federal Government decision by December 19. He further indicated that current consultations are aimed to improve indigenous involvement in the prospective project and assessments are intended to examine potential greenhouse gas emissions. He stated that, in the past with the Northern Gateway project, government was found not to have done their job properly. With the Federal Government’s revised review processes, it will ensure environmental protections, which will in turn help companies achieve social license for energy projects.

Minister Carr stressed that consultations have to be conducted more meaningfully and must surpass a higher bar to ensure Canadians see that any resulting decisions are good ones and acknowledged that no decision will make everyone happy. “As we transition to a lower carbon emission environment the role of government is to work towards a cleaner environment and healthy economy over time.” He highlighted the importance of working with leaders and innovators to create wealth. While innovation plays a critical role in determining how fast we’ll get there and where we’ll end up, he emphasized that, as a key driver of wealth, the energy sector must “demonstrate respect for indigenous people, preserving the land, air and water and building relationships” before we can build anything.

The goal, as stated by Minister Carr, is that we need to sustainably move natural resources to market within a new era of federalism not practiced by the past governments. Federal, provincial and municipal relations along with a Canadian Energy Strategy and involvement of the non-governmental sector are believed to be the impetus for change.

Panel Discussion:

Iris Evans thanked the Pearson Centre for their efforts to offer non-partisan opportunities to discuss issues of importance to the economy of Canada. She kicked off the panel discussion with a challenge to the panelists to offer their “big picture” thoughts on the economy and government of tomorrow and how to create a more sustainable energy sector.

Brenda Kenny observed that while many folks are struggling, most business leaders understand their own financial interests must factor in both stakeholder and climate interests. “We’re missing a clear view of integrated strategies both in government and industry and an understanding of the urgency – we’re at a turning point with our energy systems and momentum is important”. Ms. Kenny cited a recent poll that highlights the challenge and the direction dialogue needs to take. She said it was shocking to her to see that 50% of Canadians believe we will be off of oil and gas usage within 10 years. This sets the tone and the critical need to move the dialogue towards understanding that fossil fuels and low emissions are needed to create jobs, capital investment and reduce trade deficits. “Clean technology challenges are not an ‘either/or’ discussion and this mindset is stalling us as an industry”. She pointed out that our systems need to better integrate clean technology coupled with downstream production to harness innovation. In addition, we need to stand up and say we’re involved and aggressive in clean production and continue to work on that outcome across the country.

Ian MacGregor pointed out that we have one-third of the world’s oil in Canada’s oil sands and that, although it can last 5,000 years, it’s not worth very much. It’s the “worst kind of oil” because producing it creates high amounts of CO2. According to Mr. McGregor, we need to figure out how to make our oil higher value and, as well, reduce our shipping problems. By shipping unrefined oil it takes 2 barrels of oil to get 1 barrel to market. Instead, if we put refined products into a pipeline it’s worth 2.5 times that of raw bitumen. Mr. MacGregor’s North West Upgrading facility provides value by refining heavy oil into a product we can ship. In addition, the facility has a carbon capture and storage system to provide CO2 at a reasonable cost that is useable in enhanced oil recovery. “By incorporating carbon capture into the refining process we can make diesel fuel that’s 7% lower in CO2 intensity than refined heavy oil produced in the US. We are building the CO2 capture system today that can reduce emissions equivalent to taking every car in Alberta off the roads”.

Audrey Mascarenhas opened her remarks by saying we need to find a way to win the hearts and minds of Canadians. “People are concerned about our emissions and what they breathe.” Canada has set a target to produce 45% less methane by 2025 because it’s 25 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. “If you actually cleanly combust methane you can reduced GHG emissions 9 fold and that gets Alberta and Canada well on the way to our targets.” Ms. Mascarenhas indicated there were additional benefits if we can get Canada to be a leader around cost-effectively reducing emissions and dealing with social license issues. Since 1999, Questor Technology has been working on methane reduction globally and in the US. She sees further opportunities by supporting a growing number of “clean tech” companies across Canada that can help diversify our economy and are today creating jobs and exports.

Suggestions from Panelists:

In closing the panel discussion, Ms. Evans asked each of the panelist to comment on what diversification looks like to them and their views on the next steps to get there.

Brenda Kenny echoed the belief that we are on the cusp of a major transition and that industry is well placed with new know-how, technology and innovation and should continue to openly seek new solutions and opportunities to reduce emissions, demonstrating to Canadians that we are sincere in our efforts.

Audrey Mascarenha suggested looking at the easy things first, taking steps to get to our journey and looking at the low hanging fruit such as reducing methane production.

Ian MacGregor was optimistic that this lower price situation creates a rich environment for diversification. “We live in an amazingly adaptive place and we’re presently in full evolution mode – people are thinking right now of ways to make low value things into higher value products that we can get out of town in a lower CO2 world!”

Closing Remarks:

Minister Carr concurred with the panelists that our optimism is well placed if we listen to the ideas we’ve heard. He further stated that the Federal Government’s role was to set the policy framework to support the scale, pace and depth of the transition led by business. He closed by saying that Canada has a trading issue and is looking to deepen relationships in China and India and that “the world is shrinking which creates increased opportunities to use our natural and intellectual endowments to emerge as a leader.”

Adam Legge wrapped up the session by re-emphasizing the importance of having good process in place to create increased certainty. He suggested that we have a “common view to take an ‘and’ approach to pursue bigger rather than competing opportunities leading to profit and success in renewable and non-renewable development”.

Further Reflections from Attendees Following the Session:

Sustaining this economic prosperity creates the opportunity to invest in the innovation needed for a more sustainable environment. Through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, industry has invested more than $1.3 billion to develop and share more than 800 environmental innovations. These are technologies to cut water use, accelerate land reclamation, process tailings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Tim McMillan, CEO,
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Canada’s First Nations have a vital role to play in developing the potential of the country. While often accused of being opposed to natural resource development, the reality is that First Nations have significant exposure to the success of resource development and want resource development to be successful. They also want and have a right to play a role in that resource development.
Joe Dion, CEO
Frog Lake Energy Resources
I was encouraged that the Federal Ministers used their joint appearance in Calgary to reiterate an oft-recited message of the Trudeau Government: the economy and the environment are two sides of the same coin. In the face of Alberta’s continued recession, the Ministers sought to communicate the Federal Government’s awareness of and concern about the economic situation and the broad details and rationale behind a new pipeline approval process with transparent timelines. At the same time, they rightly spurred Alberta’s economic leadership to be aggressive and creative about innovation.
Matt Grant, Associate
BD&P LLP

As North America’s largest energy infrastructure company, Enbridge remains committed to delivering solutions. We will continue to engage policy leaders like the Pearson Centre, as well as government, industry and Indigenous and local community partners in order to help transition to a lower carbon economy.

Roxanna Benoit, Vice President of Public, Government, and Aboriginal Affairs
Enbridge

So are we good? Most of our investors have left, but two of our honourable guests have access to vaults soon to be filled with carbon pricing revenues. We don’t have a roadmap yet, but it is coming, meanwhile our innovators are gearing up, and no one thinks doing nothing is an option.
Mike Crichton
Thermal Operations Consulting

2. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

The following ideas were drawn from the speaker commentary and subsequent discussions with attendees.

• Processes developed by the Federal Government for energy industry policy-making require thoughtful consideration of strategic imperatives, solid science and a broad spectrum of voices and views.

• Look for ways that energy development can play a positive role in improving the future of Canada’s First Nations.

• Get our resources to tidewater so Canada’s natural resource industry can play a role in the global energy trade.

• Set the tone for discussions with Canadians to advance understanding of how fossil fuel development and reduced emissions are equally needed to create jobs, investment and economic prosperity.

• Support the growth of clean tech companies to help to cost-effectively reduce emissions, improve public confidence in energy development and diversify our economy.

3. COMMENTARY BY TIM McMILLAN
President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

We live in a growing world that will need all forms of energy. The International Energy Agency has forecast global energy demand to increase 32 per cent by 2040. More than a quarter of that growth will be met by oil. Global demand for natural gas is expected to increase by 50 per cent.

In China and India demand for oil is expected to increase by 10.8 million barrels. Together they represent about 84 per cent of the world’s demand growth for oil.

Canada is blessed with the energy the world needs, but we lack the infrastructure to connect it with emerging economies. We cannot yet export the energy the world needs nor yet offer cleaner alternatives, such as Canadian natural gas to make electricity instead of coal in places like China.

We need to be more resourceful with our resources – for a sustainable environment and a sustainable economy.

Today we have three major oil pipeline and several LNG projects in the approval process. If Canadian oil and gas could reach the coast, Canada could be part of the world’s energy growth.

That would be good news for Canadians, for the development of oil and gas energizes our economy. It stimulates dynamic careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, careers of the future.

It generates $17 billion a year in government revenues across Canada. This money is invested in our local communities and Canadian families. It’s used to fund services that we all use daily – roads, schools, social programs and hospitals to name a few.

Sustaining this economic prosperity creates the opportunity to invest in the innovation needed for a more sustainable environment.

Through Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, industry has invested more than $1.3 billion to develop and share more than 800 environmental innovations. These are technologies to cut water use, accelerate land reclamation, process tailings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Canadian resourcefulness found a way to take the oil out of the sand and the gas out of the rock. Canadian resourcefulness is working to find a way to take the carbon out of the barrel.

Considering all of this, Canada faces two paths.

One path leads to a sustainable energy future where Canada supplies oil and natural gas to people who need it, in Canada and abroad. We sustain economic prosperity for all Canadians through jobs, government revenues and innovation.

The other path leads to a world energy future without Canada. The world will grow, its energy needs met by other countries, many without the strong environmental and regulatory standard of Canada, and jobs and prosperity will be created offshore.

Together, governments and industry can find a balanced approach to ensure Canada delivers the world’s energy future, sustainably.

4. COMMENTARY BY JOE DION
CEO, Frog Lake Energy Resources

Canada’s First Nations have a vital role to play in developing the potential of the country. While often accused of being opposed to natural resource development, the reality is that First Nations have significant exposure to the success of resource development and want resource development to be successful. They also want and have a right to play a role in that resource development.

Many of Canada’s First Nations have not enjoyed the prosperity of resource development that other Canadians have. It is important that this change. These First Nations in many cases are located in rural areas where the resource development occurs. First Nations should not be viewed as an impediment to resource development but a partner to assist in that development.

In western Canada from SE Saskatchewan through NE British Columbia in an area called the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, the vast majority of Canada’s oil and gas exploration and production assets are located. In total about 4 mmbpd of oil production and 15 bcf/day of natural gas production occurs. In this area are also about 70 First Nations which have significant ties to the industry. First Nations collect royalties from production from these lands, they facilitate development by operators, they directly provide services to the industry, their membership also run companies that provide services and work in the industry, and in certain cases, they own an equity interest in the projects and companies that develop these resources.
The average First Nation in this area is more exposed to the success of oil and gas development than the average Canadian or even northeastern British Columbian, Saskatchewanian or Albertan. Given this exposure, it is vitally important to these First Nations (and all Canadians) that they receive a complete and fair price for the products produced from their lands. It is unacceptable that discounted prices are received because of a regional oversupply issue in this area. It is generally accepted that a full price will only be received when this oil has access to tidewater where it can efficiently be sold to the highest bidder around the world.

Canada as a relatively small nation has a great advantage in being located proximate to a large consuming and importing nation like the United States of America (USA). The USA will always be our best partner to sell our exported goods and services to but when the USA doesn’t need our products, we need to have access to other countries who do need our products and are prepared to give us a full price for them. This issue has arisen multiple times in our history with other products and now we are exposed to this problem with oil and natural gas.

Canada’s inland First Nations are committed to pursuing means to maximize the price for our products. The products can be moved to markets by truck, pipeline, rail or ship. It is likely some combination will be required in order to access premium markets (particularly if we need to get to tidewater and then move by ship to other countries). With trucking being 10 times as expensive as pipeline or rail and pipeline or rail being about 10 times as expensive as shipping, we want to minimize distance on trucking versus pipeline or rail and then minimize distance on pipeline or rail versus shipping in order to achieve maximum price. Ultimately we want to target markets for our products which are large, growing, and looking for new supply. Today that market is in Asia which, in addition to having two thirds of the world’s population, growing demand for hydrocarbons and relatively little local production, is relatively close to our western border.

In order to access these markets, it is imperative that we be respectful and considerate to other First Nations and other Canadians along the routes picked. The method of transportation has to be safe and protect the environment. We believe that this is doable. The national and provincial governments and regulatory bodies need to expeditiously move appropriate infrastructure development projects forward so we collectively can benefit from our economic activities. These agencies and corporate interests need to engage with First Nations to move these projects forward. There has been too much indecisiveness and administrative bungling on these matters and First Nations are suffering as much or more than other Canadians. This has to be done now for all our peoples!

Background: Frog Lake Energy Resources Corp.
Fifteen years ago Frog Lake First Nation (FLFN), knowing that its prosperity was tied to the success of oil development on its reserve and traditional lands made a bold move to become more involved and supportive of this development. Working with corporations which understood the importance of support and alignment with local First Nations, FLFN made investments in oil development and oil service businesses. Included among that development was taking working interest ownership in oil wells through wholly-owned Frog Lake Energy Resources Corp (FLERC) which is a great and successful example for First Nations of what can be done This investment has been very beneficial to FLFN and its membership which now generate a substantial amount for their revenue from oil activity rather than being reliant on government remittances. The Nation and its people have prospered over this time but area also acutely aware of the challenges facing oil companies in this marketplace (because we are one). We are blessed with a fabulous resource base but capturing its full potential requires working and collaboration with other Canadians. We are committed to doing that.

5. COMMENTARY BY MATT GRANT
Associate, Burnett, Duckworth & Palmer, LLP, Calgary

On August 30th, the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce co-hosted a very well-attended luncheon featuring the Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.

Pipelines were very much top of mind for attendees. The NEB had just cancelled Energy East hearings in Montreal. In widely reported remarks, Adam Legge, President of the Calgary Chamber, began the luncheon by stating, “We’re all frustrated today by what happened in Montreal yesterday.” He further expressed concern that the “fringe” had begun to unduly influence the review process.

While introducing Minister Carr, Minister McKenna stressed that the Federal Government was well aware of the hardships presently faced by many Calgarians, adding “We recognize that we only do well if every province does well”. Resiliency and innovation were the keynotes of her short remarks.

Minister Carr focused on selling the newly revamped pipeline review process, observing that the old process had resulted in zero kilometres of pipeline to tidewater. Carr clarified that unanimity wasn’t the goal of the process; broader social licence, however, was both possible and desirable. Carr also emphasized that the Federal Government had transparent and firm timelines in place in regards to decisions about pipelines. For example, he stated there would be a Federal Government decision on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal by December 19, 2016.

I was encouraged that the Federal Ministers used their joint appearance in Calgary to reiterate an oft-recited message of the Trudeau Government: the economy and the environment are two sides of the same coin. In the face of Alberta’s continued recession, the Ministers sought to communicate the Federal Government’s awareness of and concern about the economic situation and the broad details and rationale behind a new pipeline approval process with transparent timelines. At the same time, they rightly spurred Alberta’s economic leadership to be aggressive and creative about innovation.

6. COMMENTARY BY ROXANNE BENOIT
Vice President of Public, Government, and Aboriginal Affairs, Enbridge

The energy industry is on the cusp of a major transition as Canada moves toward a lower-carbon economy. This message was delivered by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr at the Energy Futures event co-hosted by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy.

The transition to a lower carbon future presents challenges and opportunities. Low commodity prices and the need for Canadian resources to reach growing global markets continue to limit growth opportunities. Despite this, industry is working to deliver clean energy solutions for consumers and to support a pan-Canadian framework that will address climate change and reduce GHG emissions. Importantly, this framework must leverage greater public consultation, including with local and Indigenous communities, and provide certainty for long term infrastructure investments.

This ambitious agenda will require partnerships across governments, industry, as well as Indigenous and local communities. Governments must ensure Canada has a regulatory framework that is rigorous, transparent and inclusive. This provides the certainty needed for industry to make long-term capital investments that create jobs, deliver clean energy to consumers, and help transition to a lower-carbon future.

Enbridge is well-positioned to help lead this change. We have invested over $5 billion in climate change and renewable energy projects since 2002 and plan to double these investments by 2019. As a company, we have reduced the GHG emissions of our Canadian operations by 20% from 1990 levels and, through our natural gas distribution business, we have helped land owners and small businesses avoid more than 18 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the last 10 years. Moving forward, we will continue working with our partners to ensure that Canada’s regulatory framework provides the investor certainty needed to build on these achievements.

Our recent announcement to combine with Spectra Energy will advance these commitments. Our companies already share the same purpose to deliver energy that fuels people’s quality of life and common values, including commitments to environmental stewardship and community engagement.

As North America’s largest energy infrastructure company, Enbridge remains committed to delivering solutions. We will continue to engage policy leaders like the Pearson Centre, as well as government, industry and Indigenous and local community partners in order to help transition to a lower carbon economy.

Thank you again to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the Pearson Centre for co-hosting this important dialogue on Canada’s Energy Future.

7. COMMENTARY BY MIKE CRICHTON
Thermal Operations Consulting

I had the privilege to attend an event bringing together oil and gas industry representatives, clean-tech innovation leaders and Canada’s Ministers for Natural Resources, Jim Carr, and Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. Executive Director Andrew Cardozo of the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy teamed up with Adam Legge CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, to organize the event as part of the Pearson Centre’s new initiative, #Econ4Tmro (Economy for Tomorrow).
Judging by the noise quality coming from the pre-event mix & mingle room the atmosphere was enthusiastic and positive, although I felt no sense of urgency for action.

Our moderator, Iris Evans, who served her country well over a distinguished career, got things started after the introductions. The panelists were Brenda Kenny, VP, Climate Change Emissions Management Committee, Ian MacGregor, Chair, Northwest Upgrader and Refinery, and Audrey Mascarenhas, President and CEO, Questor Technologies.

The speakers, panel and audience seemed to accept the proposition “significant changes are required to reduce GHG emissions”, that it will be across the country in all sectors of the economy, and of course in the oil and gas industry. I heard no dissent on the matter. Our speakers acknowledged good work already done towards lowering emissions, however it was more obvious all in the room expected there to be more work, much more.

That work would entail cooperation across most, if not all government departments, and with industry, and with Canadian voters. That particular climate change worthy of note, I suppose, because it has become remarkable by its absence. Thus we will get policies to set acceptably sustainable goals, limits and targets for emissions, of which we will likely find ourselves in violation. But we won’t achieve these goals without even more work to actually reduce the GHG emissions. This will partly be possible using proven, but yet to be fully applied, technologies about which we heard from Audrey Mascarenhas and Ian MacGregor. The remainder, 55% or more, by developing and applying innovative new technology to hopefully reduce emissions from existing oil sands investments. Any new investments are expected to be designed to more stringent emission standards, the incentive for which will be permission to ship in any new pipelines of the “if approved” variety, a tax on carbon emissions at both provincial and federal levels, and a social license to sell our oil into a highly competitive marketplace, one well populated with cut-throats and pickpockets as we have seen.

I was starting to feel a bit worried, but there was more. We were warned, by Brenda Kenny, a person of impeccable credentials and manners, that both government and industry leaders are missing a clear view of the critical importance of how to integrate the strategies required to make a successful transition, many of which depend on technologies we haven’t commercialized yet, and to make matters worse, perhaps they are also missing just how urgent it is to get things done.
The challenges before us seemed overwhelming, and I was reminded of the labours of Hercules which were chosen to defeat him. It seems our oil sands industry is less like Prometheus, condemned for eternity, chained to a mountain, and tortured daily for bringing fire to mortals, and more like Hercules in his battle with the many headed hydra, which grew two more heads every time he cut one of them off. It may be the popular oil patch expression “come back to bite us in the ass” came from this battle, the Hydra being well suited for that particular move. However, against all odds Hercules prevailed, and did so with the help of nephew Iolaus who’s job it was to cauterize the neck stumps after each decapitation. And that will be the partnership to get us out of the fix we are in, with the clean-tech industry playing the part of Iolaus. Of course the cauterization will take place with no GHG emissions whatsoever. To put it another way, David will take up a diplomatic role, and team up with Goliath.

We have reason for optimism. Alberta and Canada are fertile grounds for innovation, and have proved this already. I am encouraged by the number of brilliant people focussing their efforts on our oil sands industry to solve GHG emissions. Promising clean technologies are waiting in the wings (for commercialization), and there are several organizations at municipal, provincial and federal levels to connect industry clients to them. Some of our First Nations leaders have clearly told us they see a way forward that is sustainable on their terms and want to play a constructive role in our shared future.

So are we good? Most of our investors have left, but two of our honourable guests have access to vaults soon to be filled with carbon pricing revenues. We don’t have a roadmap yet, but it is coming, meanwhile our innovators are gearing up, and no one thinks doing nothing is an option.

We should heed Brenda’s warning, meet again soon and start talking specifics.

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