Cracking The Tough Nuts
Canada’s energy industry faces some daunting challenges. It’s time to get creative about solving them
CANADIAN ENERGY IS AT A CROSSROADS—AND
in the crosshairs—on an array of big issues. How does the country get pipelines to tidewater? Why is it easier for provinces to sell power to a neighboring state than to the province next door? How do we get carbon out of the barrel? Will Canadian crude continue to be benchmarked by another country?
The industry has always relished a tough challenge, and has gone to some of the harshest environments on earth, both politically and geographically, to produce energy. Some of its most creative thinking and innovative technologies have come from seemingly insurmountable obstacles, such as separating bitumen from sand, or turning otherwise stranded natural gas into a useable liquid at 162 degrees below zero. This magazine proposes some big ideas to crack the toughest of those nuts. In “Sparking National Unity,” we explore the idea of building a national electricity grid that would allow provinces to benefit from trading energy across provincial borders as demand waxes and wanes across time zones. Provinces awash in surplus power could supply their neighboring territories instead of the U.S., saving Canadian taxpayers substantial investment dollars for more power infrastructure. Provinces with low-carbon power options, like hydro, could exchange energy or carbon credits with high-emissions plants elsewhere. “The World Needs A Canadian Oil Benchmark” weighs how a Canadian crude benchmark would accurately reflect the value of Canada’s oil output instead of always pricing it at a discount calculated across currencies and a border. “A Pipe To Share” considers whether public ownership of a bitumen-totidewater pipeline would give all comers a stake in—and skin in—the energy infrastructure game, achieving consensus and some muchneeded social license along the way. “Make Carbon Pay” raises the stakes on taking carbon out of the barrel to a new level: taking CO2 from the atmosphere rather than from smokestacks, and turning it into commercial products instead of burying it inertly in the ground.