Lisa Baiton took the helm as president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers this May, arriving with 30 years experience working as a business advisor. She most recently served on the Global Leadership Team at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Baiton discusses with Energy Examined what inspired her to take on the new role, and her top priorities leading Canada’s national oil and natural gas industry association–including an emphasis on industry’s role as a solutions partner in reducing GHG emissions while working with allies around the world to provide energy security.
Leighton: Hello and welcome to another edition of the Energy Examined podcast, the podcast that discusses the issues facing Canada’s oil and natural gas sector with the insiders in the know. I’m Leighton Klassen. Today I’m joined by Lisa Baiton. She is the new president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), having begun her role in early May. Lisa joins CAPP with over 30 years’ experience working as a business advisor to federal and provincial governments. And most recently, she served on the Global Leadership Team at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Lisa, welcome to CAPP and welcome to the show.
Lisa: Thanks, Leighton. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Leighton: It’s great to have you. So, you’ve been in your role for about a month now. How would you describe the experience so far?
Lisa: Well, I like to tell my friends and family that my new cocktail of choice is Fire Hose. But I’m hoping by the time I’m done my first 100 days here at CAPP, that I can switch to a cocktail called Garden Hose.
Leighton: Well, I hope so, too. So, you moved from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to a national oil and gas industry association. What inspired you to take on this role?
Lisa: Oh, well, there’s a lot to that answer. Maybe I’ll start with stepping back a bit and just, you know, I would say the golden thread in my career has always been choosing roles that somehow contributed to the greater good. And, you know, I personally feel very passionately about the importance of the Canadian oil and gas industry, not only to Canada, but its role in the world. And we’re really seeing that now. But, you know, I grew up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and in a family that owned a small oilfield servicing company. So, I really understand at a granular level the importance of the industry to communities, to workers and to families. But most recently, I spent over a decade working for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which is, you know, one of the top ten retirement funds in the world. And importantly, it’s a fund that leaned into the energy transition over a decade ago and is committed to GHG reductions, but still sees the upstream oil and gas industry as an incredible source of alpha for Canadian beneficiaries and contributors. And they also see the industry as a critical piece of the puzzle in reducing GHG emissions, both domestically on a global scale. So, I think, you know, back to your question, I think the industry is in a great position to contribute to the greater good on major issues facing the world today in reducing GHG emissions and partnering with our allies around the world on energy security. And that’s why I’m here.
Leighton: Well, a lot of work to be done. A lot of exciting work. What are some of your top priorities?
Lisa: Well, let me start by saying that I understand that the last several years for our industry have historically been the hardest. And we’re emerging from that. And I think the world is changing rapidly. And the Canadian upstream industry is uniquely positioned to be secure suppliers of responsibly produced energy, as well as showcasing all the good work they’re doing as global leaders in GHG emissions reductions, particularly through the advancement of technology. So, in terms of my top priorities and my vision, you know, I think there is a lot of opportunity to focus the efforts of CAPP with respect to the innovation that is happening, to be a resource to governments globally in meeting NATO and climate change commitments. So, expect me and expect CAPP to be a collaborative force in helping governments achieve those goals.
Leighton: Okay. And now this pivot with CAPP, why is it so important right now?
Lisa: Well, again, you know, I would say the world is changing rapidly. You know, I think it’s probably worth breaking that down into three parts. You know, I think it’s important context to remember that the industry is just now emerging from one of the most difficult periods in its history where, you know, the companies in the industry faced existential threat. And quite frankly, a lot of them met it. And so, you know, that’s an important piece. The other important piece to talk about is COVID. You know, initially COVID kind-of piled on to that downturn when everybody was working from home. And then all of a sudden, you know, folks are going back to work and traveling again, and people are going back to the office. And that’s driving up energy demand. And then most recently, if you look at the geopolitical construct in the world, particularly post Russia and Ukraine, NATO allies working to pivot away from irresponsibly produced energy from countries like Russia has amplified the demand for energy even further. So, those are some of the rapidly changing geopolitical events that are happening. And again, just to restate, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for the upstream oil and gas industry to contribute both to, you know, NATO’s objectives for continental and global energy security and a safe, secure and responsibly produced supply of energy and at the same time, really working hard to reduce GHG emissions.
Leighton: So, we talked about some of the challenges, but let’s talk about some of the opportunities, in your opinion. What are some of those big opportunities that we have as an industry?
Lisa: Well, again, I think CAPP has an exceptionally powerful platform to bring to bear the expertise of more than 400,000 working Canadians who are responsible for about 80 per cent of Canada’s natural gas and oil. And I think, you know, a really key opportunity for us looking ahead, is how best we work with the members of CAPP to unlock that knowledge and in turn to work in collaboration with governments and with stakeholders and with other industry partners to support the innovation, to reduce GHG emissions and contribute to domestic and global climate change commitments, as well as to develop practical and operationally viable solutions on climate change. And then on energy security, you know, we’ve all witnessed how the current geopolitical context has brought energy security into sharp focus. And again, I think Canada has a material opportunity to seize here. You know, both in the support of energy security for Canada and, you know, for North American energy security and globally for our NATO allies. So, you know, I think we have a really terrific opportunity to demonstrate that we are the responsible producers of oil and gas. And we believe that that responsible supply should come from Canada.
Leighton: So, what would you say are the root causes of the energy security crisis the world is facing right now?
Lisa: Oh, that’s a tough question, right? And there’s a lot that could go into that. But let me try to break that down into three parts. First, I think context is really important here. And it’s really important to remember that the energy industry is just emerging now from its worst period in history. And that was compounded when COVID hit and everything shut down and demand for energy plummeted. Now, secondly, again, with COVID, you know, we’re seeing, you know, things opening up and everybody’s going back to work and traveling again. And that is causing a rapid increase in demand. You know, after a seven-year period when less money because of that downturn was invested in in the oil and gas industry. And then finally, you know, we’ve all witnessed how the current geopolitical context has brought energy security into sharp focus post the Russia invasion of Ukraine and the spike in energy demand, the spike in demand for good, responsibly produced energy from safe and secure suppliers. And so, I would say that’s the third piece.
Leighton: Okay. So, in your view, why is Canada’s role in helping with the energy security crisis so late?
Lisa: And I think Canada has an outsized opportunity to define a new path forward for our industry, our allies and our trading partners, whether it’s, you know, in the U.S. or Europe or U.K., you know, they’re all looking to Canada as a potential provider of safe, secure and responsibly produced energy. And I think the other thing to really think about here is that we need long-term solutions to achieve both the goals of climate change, GHG reductions, as well as establishing energy security for our NATO allies. And I think Canadian producers are uniquely positioned to be secure suppliers of that responsibly produced energy and also to work in in collaboration with Canadian and global governments on addressing global climate commitments. So, I think finally, probably late in the last point I would make, is that if we can successfully attract new global investment near the levels that we had before the last industry downturn, this next era could position Canada as a global energy power providing lower emission natural gas and oil around the world.
Leighton: So, you said one of the other biggest challenges is climate change. How does the industry play a role in meeting the government’s climate goals?
Lisa: Well, I think there’s an increasing recognition that the technological innovation that is happening within the upstream industry is really going to be critical to meeting Canadian and global climate change commitments. And I’m really delighted with that kind of increasing awareness. You know, for example, the Canadian industry is a leading investor in emissions reducing technology. You know, a good example of the great work that’s being done is in carbon capture, innovations like carbon capture not only help decarbonize industries in Canada, but it’s also available to any industry that might want to use it around the world.
Leighton: Okay. Well, it sounds like we have a lot of opportunity here in Canada. So, what does that bring to the table?
Lisa: Well, you know, as I said, you know, the upstream industry has a critical role to play on both climate change and on energy security and a terrific story to tell. And my job is to share that more broadly. But I also think there’s a lot of opportunity to focus the efforts of CAPP, with respect to the innovation that I talked about, to be a solution-oriented resource to governments in meeting both of those two global challenges. So again, expect CAPP to be a really collaborative force in helping governments achieve those goals.
Leighton: Well, it’s really exciting for CAPP. Now, as you look ahead, what are you most excited about for Canada’s oil natural gas industry?
Lisa: Well, I guess the silver lining in some of the major global challenges that we’re trying to tackle, both climate change and energy security, is that there’s this moment in time where people are really willing to take another look at the oil and gas industry and really reassess their views on it. You know, at a granular level, the importance of it to their daily lives, the importance of it in terms of ensuring our NATO allies have a safe, secure and responsibly sourced supply of energy. And also taking another look in and seeing all the terrific work that the industry is doing in terms of technological innovation to be a contributor to climate change solutions. So, you know, again, I’m really excited about that. And I just, you know, ask anyone I’m talking to, to be open to our story and take another look and allow me to change your mind if you have a different view and allow me to let you get loud and proud about what the Canadian industry is doing of importance for Canada and for the globe.
Leighton: Lots of work to be done and exciting times ahead. So, thanks very much for being on the show, Lisa. It was fun.
Lisa: Thanks for having me, Leighton. No problem. Again, sometime.
Leighton: We would definitely be up for that.
Lisa: Alright. Have a terrific day.
Leighton: Lisa Baiton is the president and CEO of CAPP. Stay tuned for our next Energy Examined podcast. And if you like this one, please share it with a friend and make sure you subscribe on whichever podcast you have. For more stories and interviews on Canada’s energy industry, check out our website, context.capp.ca. See you next time.