Resource industries pledge to keep B.C. beautiful

Contributed to The Vancouver Sun
Tim McMillan
President and CEO
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
June 23, 2015
Anyone who has visited any of British Columbia’s environmental wonders – the Gulf Islands, the fjords on the northern coast, the North Thompson valley, Fort St. James on Stuart Lake, the sagebrush country around Kamloops, to name a few – knows why British Columbians are proud of their home.

The province’s beauty is supernatural and it makes perfect sense that protecting this environment is important to British Columbians. It’s important to the oil and natural gas industry, too, and that’s why we devote so much care and attention to environmental performance in the development, production and delivery of our products.

At the same time, British Columbians understand the significance of trade to B.C.’s and Canada’s economy. For example, B.C. is a major exporter of natural resources such as forestry products, coal and metals such as copper. British Columbians understand that our economic success as a country is closely linked to our ability sell our products to global markets.

Environmental protection and the economic benefits from producing and trading oil and natural gas can and must be achieved together. They are not mutually exclusive.
Canada has the third-largest oil reserves in the world and significant natural gas resources. In a world that will see energy demand rise 37 per cent by 2040 – driven in large part by countries in Asia – the global significance of Canada’s resources is evident: we have the energy the world needs.

Our ability to access markets, however, is constrained by a lack of pipeline capacity connecting the landlocked oil and natural gas to ports on the West and East coasts. Building the infrastructure to allow Canada to diversify its markets for oil and natural gas will allow our country to develop the full economic potential of our resources, safely and responsibly.

Our industry wants to see all commodities transported safely, and B.C. has been connected to oil and petroleum products from Alberta through pipelines that have operated safely for decades.

The Trans Mountain pipeline system, which ships crude oil and refined products from the Edmonton area to the Lower Mainland and, through the Kamloops terminal, to points in the Interior, went into service in 1953. Of the nearly 155,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel and heavy fuel oils British Columbians use every day, the majority comes from refined products or feedstock from Alberta. Most of the jet fuel used at Vancouver International Airport originates in Alberta.

Expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline and building Northern Gateway would add to the province’s existing pipeline infrastructure and allow growing Canadian oil production to reach global markets.

Our industry knows British Columbians, like all Canadians, will only accept additional infrastructure and tankers if it is demonstrated to be safe and regulatory oversight is in place. Oil and natural gas producers expect our transportation providers – pipelines, railways and marine tankers – to deliver safe and responsible services, and governments to set world-class standards. B.C.’s government just announced new regulatory requirements to further enhance the response to land-based spills in the province, while the federal government is moving ahead to enhance Canada’s already robust marine tanker safety systems in preparation for anticipated increases in oil and natural gas exports. 

For all of us, the goal is to handle our products safely at every stage.

For example, all tankers operating in B.C. waters must be double-hulled to reduce the risk of a spill in the event of an accident and are escorted into and out of port by tugs tethered to the tanker. A double hull means the vessels have two complete layers of watertight hull surface. Also, Port Metro Vancouver requires all tankers to be enclosed with a spill containment boom during all loading and unloading operations.

Developing and transporting oil and natural gas safely while improving environmental performance is what’s needed to maintain a strong industry that creates jobs and earns economic benefits for Canadians.

More than 600 B.C. companies across the province directly supply the oil industry with goods and services, including construction, engineering, transportation and waste treatment.

New and existing developments are forecast to contribute more than $100 billion to B.C.’s gross domestic product over the next 25 years and nearly $62 billion of employee compensation, according to the Canadian Energy Research Institute. Tax receipts are forecast to total nearly $25 billion, or $1 billion a year, over the same period.

Ensuring these benefits is what pipeline projects are all about. New and expanded pipelines and port facilities are needed to help position Canadian oil as the preferred supply to global energy markets while continuing to meet Canada’s domestic needs.

Accessing new markets and continuing the responsible development of Canada’s oil resources under one of the most robust regulatory regime in the world is a collective effort in which British Columbians and all Canadians can take great pride.

“Beautiful British Columbia,” the licence plate proudly proclaims. Our industry intends to keep it that way while helping create economic prosperity in B.C. and all of Canada.