How critical is the need for new pipeline capacity in Canada? The short answer: it’s more critical than ever. But I’d rather let the numbers speak for themselves.
Global oil demand has grown by 12 million barrels per day since Keystone XL was first delayed. Meanwhile Canada – a heavily-regulated oil supplier known for its best practices in environment, health and safety – continues to lose infrastructure opportunities, and all the accompanying jobs, economic activities and royalties that normally power our much-envied standard of living and our Canadian way of life.
For the global pool of suppliers, a rise in oil and gas demand is generally viewed as a good thing – but not, strangely, if you’re a Canadian policy-maker. Over the past seven years, Canada has spent more than $120 billion on foreign oil imports. And it’s estimated we will have forfeited $92 billion to the U.S. by 2020 on heavy oil discounts – all because of a lack of infrastructure and global market access.
In spite of the enormous need for a solution to this lack of pipeline capacity, month after month and year after year, we just can’t seem to get there.
So, faced with this growing differential – the gap between what we could get on the global market if we had pipeline and tanker access, and what we actually get from our forced sole-customer arrangement in the U.S. – Canadians need to ask their policy-makers the following question.
What happens to our country’s highly-valued social programs, paid for in significant part by Alberta’s contribution of $611 billion to the federal government in transfers and equalization since 1960, if our sector continues to limp along without improved market access?
In other words, what does the nation do to fill the gap when a key economic engine is virtually sidelined?
Canada has seen more than $50 billion of asset sales and capital flight from the oil and gas sector by international companies since 2015. The other side of that same coin is that $55 billion of investment has shifted from Canadian infrastructure companies into the U.S. following the cancellation of Canadian projects.
We’ve also seen more than $150 billion of cancelled or stalled energy projects since 2015. Drilling activity in Alberta today is 43 per cent of 2014 levels, while in Texas the Permian Basin is back to 95 per cent of 2014 levels.
Here’s the bottom line: technology and innovation are at work in the Canadian energy sector, diminishing our environmental footprint while supporting individuals, families and communities – indigenous and non-indigenous – across the country. But we’ve fallen way behind on market access. And it’s hurting us.
How critical is the need for new pipeline capacity in Canada? For Canadians, it’s central to what makes us who we are.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder/spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer organization that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.