En­ergy and re­sources min­is­ter tours south­west Saskatchew­an

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

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.

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

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.

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