Pride and Re­spect

Alberta Oil - - EDITOR’S LOG - NICK WILSON nwil­son@albertaoilmagazine.com

I DON’T WANT TO GET SUCKED INTO

the ster­ile de­bate over the def­i­ni­tion of “clean en­ergy.” Any­one who’s seen a me­chan­i­cal bird loader on a wind farm scoop­ing up blade-maimed corpses by the hun­dreds knows that there’s no such thing as squeaky clean. And is an open­cast lithium mine any pret­tier than a bi­tu­men tail­ings pond? All en­ergy has a foot­print. And all power and fu­els are part of the global en­ergy mix.

The other con­ver­sa­tion I find point­less is the claim that re­new­able en­ergy is the en­emy of oil, and only ex­ists due to lib­eral-left gov­ern­ment med­dling in the mar­ket. If re­new­ables didn’t work, were too ex­pen­sive or were re­spon­si­ble for can­ning oil work­ers, En­bridge and Tran­sCanada wouldn’t be Canada’s lead­ing pro­duc­ers of wind power, Sun­cor wouldn’t be build­ing so­lar farms in Al­berta and Chevron wouldn’t in­vest in geo­ther­mal en­ergy across the globe.

What en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and oil pro­po­nents have in com­mon—and yes, even the loud­est voices on both sides do share beliefs—is the de­sire for clean wa­ter and clean air.

This is what oil­field op­er­a­tors do; con­tin­u­ally lower emis­sions and the amount of wa­ter and land used. They do it to save money and lighten their foot­print. Cut­ting costs and cut­ting emis­sions has be­come a mantra since the price of oil tanked, the cost of car­bon rose and the roy­al­ties regime re­warded re­duc­ing pro­duc­tion costs—cre­at­ing a pow­er­ful triple whammy. Be­ing both one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive pro­duc­ers and the global me­dia’s ground zero for cli­mate change is not a space any­one wants to be in when crude prices and oil-to-tide­wa­ter hopes are low. So our oil and ser­vice firms have done what they do best: in­no­vate.

Dan Wick­lum, CEO of Canada’s Oil Sands In­no­va­tion Al­liance, sees a car­bon neu­tral bar­rel of oil as not only de­sir­able but “inevitable.” The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Oil­well Drilling Con­trac­tors, led by Mark Scholz, has launched the “Oil Re­spect” cam­paign to fo­cus on the hard-work­ing guys and gals of the patch, who drink the same wa­ter and breathe the same air as do green pro­test­ers, and of­ten live in the com­mu­ni­ties whose en­vi­ron­ments they are all too of­ten ac­cused of pol­lut­ing.

Cody Battershill was so out­raged by oil sands op­po­nents’ dis­in­for­ma­tion that he founded Canada Ac­tion to push back. This NGO is fiercely proud of all Cana­dian nat­u­ral re­sources—wind, sun, land, wa­ter and oil—and our world-class track record in de­vel­op­ing them re­spon­si­bly. Canada boasts one of the world’s green­est oil re­finer­ies, cut­ting edge car­bon cap­ture tech­nol­ogy, so­lar sys­tems de­signed for Al­berta’s harsh cli­mate, meth­ane-grab­bing in­no­va­tions and lead­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal drilling tech­nol­ogy.

This oil sands edi­tion of­fers a voice to the many peo­ple work­ing in one of Canada’s great­est nat­u­ral resource sec­tors. What we hear and see in their words, work and wis­dom is some­thing that qui­etly oozes from the north­ern sands—pride and re­spect.

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