Canada must look to global markets for oil, natural gas

Contributed to Winnipeg Free Press
Tim McMillan
President and CEO
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
August 25, 2016
Canada’s energy ministers wrapped up their meeting Tuesday in Winnipeg and agreed public trust is essential for a future that develops natural resources, creates jobs and transitions to a low-carbon economy.

As they move forward, they should have one question: how will Canadian technology and innovation deliver a clean energy future that includes oil and natural gas?

A critical part of that decision will be the choices made as early as this fall on new energy infrastructure to connect the nation’s energy with Canadians and the world — specifically, decisions about the future of liquefied natural gas and the next major oil pipeline.

Canada has the resources and resourcefulness to become the world’s energy supplier of choice. It has abundant oil and natural-gas reserves, innovative technologies and a commitment to sustainability.

Global demand for energy is expected to increase 32 per cent through 2040, and while all forms of energy will play important roles, more than a quarter of that total increase will be met by oil. The lion’s share of demand will come from China and India, as their combined consumption is expected to increase by more than 10.8 million barrels per day through the same timeframe.

Currently, Canada doesn’t ship any oil to either country.

As for natural gas, global demand is expected to increase almost 50 per cent by 2040, making it the fastest-growing fossil fuel. One-fifth of that demand will be met by liquefied natural gas or natural gas transported via pipelines.

In short, the world will need more energy produced in a responsible way.

Canada currently exports oil and natural gas to its only customer, the United States However, the U.S. is quickly becoming one of the largest producers in the world, meaning the No. 1 customer is now the No. 1 competitor.

During the meetings in Winnipeg, provincial and territorial leaders welcomed the federal government’s participation in Canada’s energy strategy.

The strategy clearly recognizes a role as an energy supplier of the future, stating, "With stable governments, a strong economy and significant energy resources, our country is well-positioned to meet local and international energy needs."

The Canadian Energy Strategy signatories are correct: Canada is well-positioned as a supplier of choice as one of the world’s largest producers of both oil and natural gas. It has the third-largest reserves of oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Over the last several years, Canada has developed a reputation as a place where energy projects are not completed or get delayed. As a result, capital investment is not coming to Canada. Less investment means fewer jobs.

Canadians should be proud of our stringent regulatory requirements and our commitment to strong environmental performance. But we should also strive to have an efficient and timely approval process.

We need to reach more customers by way of pipelines, rail and marine terminals. Without this essential infrastructure we will not be able to grow the energy sector for the prosperity of all Canadians.

Canada has three major oil pipelines at various stages in the approval process: Energy East, Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway. By approving these pipelines and enabling industry to invest more than $30 billion of private capital, governments are allowing Canadian energy to reach the people who need it. When it comes to natural gas, there are major export opportunities on Canada’s coasts through the development of several liquefied-natural-gas export projects.

The oil and natural gas resources may not be mobile, but the investor confidence and capital needed to develop them are; we need to attract and keep that capital in Canada.

Petroleum producers are supportive of the agreements made by federal, provincial and territorial leaders.

It is time for us to act.

Through continued innovation and technological efforts, Canada has the opportunity to provide safe, reliable and secure energy to international markets.

After all, it was Canadian resourcefulness that found a way to get the oil out of the sand and the natural gas out of the rock. It will be Canadian ingenuity that allows for a cleaner energy future with oil and gas.

In the spirit of the agreement made in Winnipeg this week, we ask Canada to commit to sensible choices that encourage the development of energy infrastructure needed to move energy to Canadians and to the world.

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