Energy investment could make Canada a world leader

Canada is falling behind in the competition for investment needed to spur innovations that can allow us to produce more energy with less impact.

Canada is falling behind in the fierce global competition for energy investment – the very investment that spurs the crucial innovation our growing world needs to produce more energy with less impact.

Tim McMillan is president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Energy-producing countries such as the United States and others – with lower environmental standards than Canada – are attracting more energy investment, while in Canada capital investment for energy is in decline.

And that means energy is being produced around the world under less robust environmental standards, which ultimately causes more global greenhouse gas emissions. It doesn’t make sense, environmentally or economically.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Governments in Canada could help industry to accelerate clean technology for our world-class oil and natural gas resources.

As we welcome business and government leaders from around the world to the GLOBE Forum and Innovation Expo 2018 to discuss sustainability and innovation, it’s important we share the extraordinary story of how Canada’s energy sector is spearheading technological advances in oil and natural gas to change the future for generations to come.

For more than 150 years, since the first commercial oil well in Ontario, Canada’s oil and natural gas industry has evolved and innovated. From that first oil well to today’s advances in horizontal drilling, sustainable practices and lower-carbon processes have made the Canadian energy industry a global leader in environmental performance.

Some of industry’s most noteworthy innovations include water resource hubs in northeastern British Columbia’s Montney formation that reduce the need for fresh water. Carbon capture and storage in Central Alberta is safely storing two million tonnes of carbon dioxide underground. In Canada’s oil sands, a unique partnership of companies called Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) has invested more than $1.33 billion to develop 936 distinct technologies to reduce the impacts on air, land and water.

As the world’s population grows, total energy demand will also increase. That energy will come from all sources, including oil and natural gas, hydro, nuclear and renewables. Currently there is no reasonable alternative to oil and natural gas for such applications as aviation and shipping fuel, industrial processes such as steel manufacturing, and petrochemical feedstocks. In addition, as emerging economies continue to grow, people around the world want more access to reliable, affordable energy.

We are constantly innovating the way we produce, move and use Canadian energy to provide the most sustainable barrel at the lowest cost for the long term.

We are showing the world how to have more energy with less environment impact. How? Innovation and technology. That is our global leadership opportunity.

Canada can become a reliable, responsible and affordable supplier of energy for the world. This will not only benefit global citizens, but all Canadians as well. In 2017 the industry employed 530,000 people, generated $160 billion in federal gross domestic product, and nearly $20 billion in government revenues across the country.

A strong energy sector ensures our nation’s prosperity, now and for the future. But a strong energy sector must attract capital to innovate and compete in the world.

So we need government to do its part to attract more capital to accelerate innovation in Canada’s oil and natural gas industry.

In its own report released December 2017, Investing in a Resilient Canadian Economy, the Government of Canada calls for a comprehensive review of the country’s regulatory system and its burdens on industry. Nothing has been done to date.

Nor was there any mention of new action in the 2018 federal budget to help Canada’s energy sector attract capital and generate prosperity for Canadians.

Our industry wants to continue innovating to make Canadian oil and natural gas the world’s energy for tomorrow. With investment in innovation and technology from industry and government, our natural resources can be used for generations to come, at home and around the world, and be major contributor to Canada’s economic growth.

But it is imperative government works with industry to encourage and stimulate growth in innovation and technology.

Canada should be leading the world, not lagging behind.

This commentary was also published in the March 15 edition of the Vancouver Sun.