Fight or Flight

What Canada needs to do to cap­ture the en­ergy mar­ket

Alberta Oil - - LAST WORD -

LATELY THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK

about Canada be­ing too heav­ily de­pen­dent on the en­ergy in­dus­try, along with a fair bit of scoff­ing at the idea that we should want to be­come an en­ergy su­per­power.

But why would we not want to be an en­ergy su­per­power? En­ergy is crit­i­cal to our way of life and it’s only go­ing to get more im­por­tant, es­pe­cially as we try to fig­ure out how to square our de­mands for en­ergy with the im­pacts of cli­mate change. The world uses a lot of en­ergy to­day, and it is go­ing to use more go­ing for­ward.

The In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency pub­lished a re­port be­fore the De­cem­ber 2015 cli­mate con­fer­ence in Paris, which showed that global en­ergy de­mand is go­ing to in­crease 30 per­cent by 2040. In the same re­port, they pre­dicted that in­vest­ment in the global en­ergy sec­tor will be $68 tril­lion from 2015 to 2040.

Thirty-seven per­cent of this in­vest­ment will be in oil and gas, 29 per­cent in power and 32 per­cent in ef­fi­ciency. If we want to con­tinue to pro­vide a great place to live and to im­mi­grate to, we would be fool­ish not to chase this op­por­tu­nity.

Canada is per­fectly po­si­tioned to cap­ture this mar­ket. We have an abun­dance of nat­u­ral re­sources and we would be re­miss not to use them re­spon­si­bly for the ben­e­fit of our­selves and our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. We have a well-ed­u­cated so­ci­ety, which puts us in good stead for both fig­ur­ing out the most eco­nom­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able ways of pro­duc­ing en­ergy, and cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­prov­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

Fi­nally, and most im­por­tantly, we are a very sta­ble coun­try. By and large, ups and downs in the en­ergy mar­kets are at­trib­ut­able to crit­i­cal en­ergy sup­plies be­ing lo­cated in un­sta­ble ar­eas. We should be a sup­plier of choice.

What do we need to do in order to cap­i­tal­ize on the mar­ket?

Di­ver­sify our prod­ucts: We have lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties. We are among the top 10 coun­tries in the world in oil, ura­nium and coal re­serves, top 20 in nat­u­ral gas re­serves, and top five in po­ten­tial for gen­er­at­ing wind and hy­dro­elec­tric power. We also have the long­est coast­line in the world, which should put us in good shape to pro­duce ti­dal en­ergy when this tech­nol­ogy ad­vances fur­ther. Canada should be able to of­fer up the most com­plete pack­age of en­ergy prod­ucts any­where.

Di­ver­sify our mar­kets: Right now our only mar­ket (out­side of our own do­mes­tic one) is the United States, and this is a big weak­ness. Our re­cent Key­stone XL ex­pe­ri­ence speaks to the per­ils of hav­ing one cus­tomer, es­pe­cially one who is close to be­ing the top oil pro­ducer in the world. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama re­fused Key­stone XL on the ba­sis that it didn’t “serve the na­tional in­ter­ests” of the U.S. Bot­tom line, this was pre­dictable, and at the end of the day, prob­a­bly a ra­tio­nal de­ci­sion for an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent to make.

The fact is that the United States sim­ply does not need the 832,000 b/d of Cana­dian oil that Key­stone XL was to trans­port. That rep­re­sents only a small per­cent­age (ap­prox­i­mately 4 per­cent) of the oil that they con­sume, and they have plenty of other op­tions to make up the dif­fer­ence.

Make our prod­ucts more mar­ketable: How can we en­cour­age other mar­kets to buy Cana­dian? Get the price down and re­duce emis­sions. Our goal should be to have the low­est-cost en­ergy, with the low­est car­bon footprint. This will re­quire in­vest­ment in re­search and ed­u­ca­tion.

Don’t for­get about adapt­ing to cli­mate change: There is prob­a­bly lit­tle abil­ity to re­verse what has hap­pened al­ready, and I think every­one be­lieves that more is likely to oc­cur be­fore we get our emis­sions un­der con­trol. At the same time, we should re­mem­ber that nat­u­ral forces have con­trib­uted to cli­mate change over his­tory, and will un­doubt­edly con­tinue to do so. So our abil­ity to main­tain a sus­tain­able so­ci­ety needs to in­clude both learn­ing how to adapt to a chang­ing cli­mate, as well as emit­ting fewer green­house gases into the at­mos­phere.

So, times may be tough right now, but th­ese are the times when lead­ers are made. Let’s take the blin­ders off, rec­og­nize the plethora of en­ergy as­sets that we have, de­velop them re­spon­si­bly and get them to mar­ket.

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