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Commentary: Market access and Canada's energy future

When it comes to market access and why new pipelines and LNG facilities are needed here in Canada, a key point to remember is that there is no such thing as status quo.

Increased production of both oil and natural gas south of the border means that our access to the U.S. market—our historic dominant primary customer—is under threat. As has been noted in a few places, our best customer is now also our greatest competitor.

This leave us with a choice. We can choose a path of growth—building the infrastructure needed to reach global markets that need and want our products. Or we can forego a generational opportunity and deal with the consequences.

The federal approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion Proposal is a vital step in the right direction. It represents an opportunity for Canada to compete globally. In its latest forecast, the International Energy Agency predicts continued growth in oil and natural gas consumption through to 2040. Most of that growth will occur in China and India.

Today, China and India source their oil and natural gas from places like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Angola, Nigeria and Iraq. Meanwhile, Canada has some of the highest environmental and safety standards in the world. We face our challenges head on, and we invest in innovation and continuous performance improvement.

Canada can and should play an increasing role in becoming a supplier of choice to countries like China and India and their growing economies. By providing increased access to tidewater and the Pacific Rim, the Trans Mountain Expansion will enable Canadian producers to supply preferred fuels for the world’s energy future, while at the same time supporting Canada’s long-term economic growth and prosperity.

"As we have learned from other experiences, government approval is not the same as shovels in the ground."

However, as we have learned from other experiences, government approval is not the same as shovels in the ground. There is still much work to do. While the pipeline proponents work to meet the conditions for their respective project approvals, we will continue having important energy discussions with people across the country—so that Canadians have the facts and context to make informed choices regarding Canada’s energy future. 

A key part of those discussions involves the ever-growing Canada’s Energy Citizens community. Thanks must go to the almost 20,000 energy citizens who wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in support of Trans Mountain, and the many others who have joined in petitions, events and conversations—both social media and dinner table. As the voice of every-day Canadians, they support market access more effectively than CEOs and politicians, and their voice will be essential as we move forward on energy projects in the future.

In my own travels, which take me from one end of the country to the other, I meet hundreds of people who recognize the value a thriving Canadian oil and gas industry represents to Canada’s economy, innovation and prosperity. It is truly inspiring to know the depth of support that we have on the ground and in every region of the country.


Tim McMillan
President and CEO
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers