Energy and resources minister tours southwest Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Minister of Energy and Resources Bronwyn Eyre got a close-up look at the activities of the oil and gas sector in southwest Saskatchewan during a three-day tour of the region, Aug. 27-29.
Her tour concluded with a luncheon at the Living Sky Casino in Swift Current on Aug. 29 that was attended by representatives from the oil and gas sector as well as officials from different local authorities.
The tour was organized by Cypress Hills MLA Doug Steele, who was appointed in May as the legislative secretary to the minister of energy and resources. He suggested a tour of oil and gas facilities to the minister to give her an opportunity to talk to the people who are working in the sector.
“She was more than willing to do it and we talked to the companies and they made time for us,” he said. “We walked through specific batteries and we were at some rigs and different things to see what really goes on. ... When you experience something, it sticks with you. So that's what we wanted to accomplish and the people in the industry was so accommodating. We had some amazing tours and we got to see things.”
According to Eyre this tour was one of the first things she and Steele discussed after he was appointed as legislative secretary.
“So we took the first opportunity we could get and I was thrilled to come,” she said. “It was a packed schedule. ... It was really just about listening to people on the ground, seeing field operations, which we did extensively.”
The tour group, which included Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley, visited facilities of Whitecap Resources in the Gull Lake area and of Crescent Point Energy in the Shaunavon area, as well as the Chinook Power Station natural gas facility currently under construction near Swift Current.
During the tour the group had meetings with representatives from North American Helium, WellTraxx and Diamond Energy Services. They also had discussions with a number of local authorities – the rural municipalities of White Valley and Frontier, the towns of Eastend and Shaunavon, and the City of Swift Current.
Issues raised during the tour included market access and pipelines, a carbon tax, and the competitive benefit for Alberta businesses that are not paying PST. Local authorities referred to issues such as taxation, road use agreements and the decommissioning of orphan wells.
Eyre became the minister of energy and resources when Premier Scott Moe appointed his new cabinet in February. Her portfolio was previously part of a broader ministry of economy, which has now been split into separate ministries for energy and resources as well as export and trade development.
“I think that's a good thing and a positive thing in terms of the regulatory framework and oversight and so on,” she said. “One of the things that I hear a lot is how well regarded Saskatchewan regulators are in energy and resources – they're very transparent, they're very easy to pick up the phone to, it's not a bureaucratic maze. So on that side of things I hear very positive feedback on the regulatory side and just the administrative side of the file and the ministry.”
Eyre noted during her speech at the luncheon in Swift Current that investments by oil and gas companies in the southwest are helping to support the quality of life of residents in communities across the region. Provincially oil and gas production is responsible for an estimated 15 per cent of Saskatchewan's GDP.
“The oil and gas sector continues to represent a major source of economic strength for our province and we can look forward to more success in this very resilient sector, which our government is so, so proud of,” she said. “We'll always be proud of the men and women who work in our oil and gas sector, who tell me every chance they get, they're tired of being seen by critics, by the federal government, as liabilities. You are not that, they are not that. Quite the opposite to us. We understand that resource development will always have a meaningful role in the future of Saskatchewan.”
She referred to the Fraser Institute's 2017 annual global petroleum survey, which ranked Saskatchewan seventh out of 97 jurisdictions in the world for overall attractiveness to oil and gas investment. Eyre felt the efforts of the provincial government to attract investments in this sector is hampered by the federal government's policies and regulatory measures.
“Bottom line, it's important that we work together to address the challenges we face that we can create an even more successful future for our resource industries,” she said.
Cypress Hills MLA Doug Steele, who is also the legislative secretary to the minister of energy and resources, responds to a question from an audience member during a luncheon in Swift Current, Aug. 29. Standing next to him is Minister of Energy and Resources Bronwyn Eyre.